We at Hip Hop Chronicle had the privilege to interview Los Angeles native rapper Dom Kennedy. During the interview Dom touches on subject such as his opinion on the hip hop game, maturing as a person and his upcoming album ‘The Yellow Album’. We’ve even got a little exclusive for you, check it out below:
What do you prefer putting out, mixtapes or albums and why? I approach my mixtapes like an album, there’s not much different to, I’m not an artist that has put out albums that went platinum but if I was I would still approach my projects the same way. A lot of artists are referring to their mixtapes to get people aware that their album is coming and they would put on it material that didn’t make their album…I’m not with that, whatever I put out, I wanna compete with shit that are in stores at least in terms of quality of music, this is one of the reason I called this project the yellow album, people gon get that from me, my fans deserve that from me.
A month ago you finished the ‘Dom Kennedy Tour’, how do you feel about the reception it received? It was dope, all the cities that we went to, it was 23 shows and you know a lot of people came to shows in a lot of new markets that I never hit before and it was great just to see fans come out at every places we been to, I did all projects, I tried to do like a best of everything that I put out and it was my first time really doing that, it was dope because it was very successful for sure. And as soon as the yellow album is coming out, we’re planning a European tour and I definitely wanna hit the UK right after the summer.
Do you prefer performing on stage or working in the studio? Both, they are really different, you know the settings of them and things are really different, if you don’t work hard in the studio your stage show wouldn’t be shit because no matter what people tell you about running around and be crazy on stage be the best entertainer, if your songs ain’t tight then it don’t really make no difference. My goal is always to have the best songs and those moments you interact with your fans are moments that come from the studio. Then after when I travel, I enjoy seeing what people know more, what people prefer, some places some people might like certain songs more and I’d be surprise a lot of the times, this is why I’m impatient to see how Europe respond now.
Everyone has been anticipating ‘The Yellow Album’ after the release of the ‘From The Westside with Love’ series. Was the process of making The Yellow Album different to rest? What the process really was this time was to find a sound and something that I can really call my own, to me it feels like my first album ever, and to me this is the first time where I’m like sure that everything that comes out after the yellow album people gon say that “it sound like a Dom Kennedy song” because the sounds has its own sound, nobody has ever did the shit that I’m doing, I can’t even compare it, it doesn’t sound like my last projects, the raps are me evolving to another level, but the actual music is something new, it’s just so forward.
Would you say that ‘The Yellow Album’ has a different sound from your previous work? Yeah definitely it’s not something paying homage to anything, sounding like anything except for my lifestyle, before everything that I had done I had felt like it just came ending running to a wall, rap is a classical art form now, so everybody really doing it with references or influenced by..before you could really challenge yourself and trying shit out, so I came with that approach, so to go for another 30years, somebody gonna have to go a direction people didn’t imagine before, just push the genre and create new moments
Are you able to tell us which artist will be appearing on the new album and how some of them came about? Yeah I can tell you, I got Too $hort on there, he came about because we reached out to him, it was more like a family connection and he wanted me to be on his album so we both reached out at the same time so it was just like “maaan it would be dope to have you on my shit too” and I guess I can tell you now, I got Rick Ross on there, it’s just years of being in contact, me being a fan of music for a while now and him just knowing me, we been in touch for several years, one time in the studio we was messing around, we just made a song, actually we made a couple of them but we just made that one song I’m using in the yellow album was just so dope to me, I just recorded it at his house actually and he just hopped on it because he was fucking with it, it’s just real like that so it was real easy.
When will the album be released? June 21st through my label OpM.
Since dropping ‘25TH Hour’ in 2008 and now dropping ‘The Yellow Album’ how would you say you have changed musically and as an artist? I just grew up “as a person” first and foremost, not as an artist, as a person, you know I’m my own man, I’m not here to pay homage to nobody or letting nobody else dictate what’s gon happen or what my career gon be like, I’m just here to leave my own legacy and working with the people that I wanna work with. Just aiming to being the best now is what changed, but now I ask myself do I want more, do you really think you can get more, and if you can’t that means you’re not doing enough. And that basically what it comes down to now, I just grew up as a person.
Over the past couple of years, people have started to sit up and take notice of you; do you feel added pressure now your music is reaching more and more people? No not at all, I look at it for what it is, and it’s just a blessed opportunity to do music and have people listen so I never look at it like pressure, pressure is like serious shit, this is not pressure, this is fun, this is a blessing. I just try to be true to myself first of all, regardless of trying to please this person or this person, my fans or even my dad or my mom, it’s like “what do you really wanna do?”, and “what would make you happy” and the yellow album answers that for me, I understand it’s not going to be for everybody but what is? if you’re making shit for everybody you’re not making shit for nobody and I’m definitely not making shit for nobody, I don’t make shit for kids because I’m not a kid, I’m not making shit for nerd because I’m not a nerd, I understand my stuff is not for everybody, what really matters to me is people that are fucking with it.
Early this year there was rumours about you signing with MMG that you managed to clear up. Have you had any other record labels approaching you? Pretty much a lot or almost all of them at some point, at this point it’s just about, it ain’t nothing but a dollar and dream, all business whatever you wanna call them is gonna come down to negotiations just basically about money, and then the dream part is me wanting to be my own business man with people around me, and now if the dream matched up the money I’ll be happy and we can make it happen but obviously so far it hasn’t. So I just keep going, as long as I do better than I did last year financially, it don’t really matter to me, because now it’s been proven, you can be a successful artist outside of a big structure and make good money.
After seeing the success of independent artist such as Mac Miller and the buzz that Kendrick Lamar managed to produce before he got signed to Aftermath/ Interscope. Do you think that going independent is better than signing with a major label early in an artist career? One thing I really learned and know about the game is you can’t never say that you can’t do something, everyday somebody will prove you wrong, there’s no real ways to do it, independently or get signed, what works for you might not works for the next person, and some people went both ways and went successful both ways, all that is just about what works for you, what make you shine and be you.
Which artist in the game right now would like to work with in the future, and why? I don’t really know, I enjoy working with other artists for sure but I enjoy even more working with producers, I like people that are masters at what they do, you can always find the next dope rapper etc but I feel like producers are the heartbeat of the rap game because find a new producer that will play you something that can change your whole outlook is just key. You can be a tight rapper but be on the corner your whole life, that won’t make good songs and even if you can make good songs don’t mean you gon make it. If you find a producer that touches people with the music, that it has a new feeling to it, I just like to find dope music and then put some words to it.
In under 5 words, how would describe the music scene in the west coast? ( he takes a little bit of time to think) On The Verge Of Greatness
What is your overall view of the hip hop industry at this currently moment in time? Right now we are where we are because the last generation had it so good, people was getting so much money and crazy budgets that, you can give somebody a million dollars advance and they wasn’t doing shit, now motherfuckers be paying for it, because the world changes and fans lost trust in the whole game, because people are putting out bullshit and still making a lot of money off of it, spending crazy budgets and putting out album that people was paying for but only would have only one or two songs , so people were like fuck it that shit should be free , I only like two songs, I don’t want the album no more, but when you see artists like Kanye West, they go platinum because the fans trust their visions, they know they’re going to get some quality shit so they don’t have problem spending it, you can’t say that for everybody anymore.
What do you think the future holds for Dom Kennedy? The future is real bright for Dom Kennedy , you know I figure that in a couple of year we gon be on top, I wanna see LA on top, I figured why not me, it’s not been so many times when a rapper from LA was on top, that’s kinda fucked besides maybe Ice cube in 92-93, we had our era’s and we had our times, hearing underground and up-coming now I wanna go from up-coming to multi platinum, I’m not here to be the underground hero, that’s really my mind set, I’m here to fuck up everybody’s plans, an all that because I wanna see LA wins. (he says it with a big smile on his face)
A big thank you to Max @MaximRobin & Archie