Artist: Dom Kennedy
Album: Get Home Safely
Label: THE OTHER PEOPLES MONEY COMPANY
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Dom Kennedy is a throwback rapper. To the fictionalized 1950s.
If Arthur Fonzarelli was transported to the West Coast and traded in his leather jacket and greaser boots for an L.A. Kings jersey, Jordans, and a Dodgers fitted with an overly-curved brim, he’d be Dom Kennedy.
Dom has developed an insular, yet widely-adored sound centered around the complexion of him being the incarnation of cool. His records are marked by conversational rap; laid-back, light-hearted cruising anthems interweaved with relatable tales of hook-ups past.
Kennedy, an independent artist out of Los Angeles’ Leimert Park who burst onto the scene in 2008 upon the release his 25th Hour debut project, has quietly been in this game for years. Last May, Dom rode the booming bassline of the DJ Dahi-crafted “My Type Of Party” to mainstream notoriety, setting the stage for The Yellow Album.
A free release which fittingly dropped on June 21, 2012, the first day of summer, The Yellow Album saw Dom team up with hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross, Freddie Gibbs, and Kendrick Lamar to create a diverse project that served as last year’s scintillating soundtrack for scorching temperature, successfully completing Kennedy’s transformation from local L.A. artist to national name.
Enter Get Home Safely, Dom Kennedy’s second retail album, and his first since the release of From The Westside With Love II in 2011. Get Home Safely sees Dom head back to L.A. to celebrate his success with only a select few. The way that he’d want to.
Everything about Get Home Safely is L.A., from the producers (The Futuristiks) and features, (Nipsey Hussle, Skeme, Krondon,and TeeFLii) down to the album’s artwork.
Dom may not take many things too seriously, but one thing he evidently holds onto tightly is his connection to his hometown, and a mandate to project as the unofficial voice for its inhabitants.
“But that’s a dream deferred/ And they don’t always come true/ 4 minutes ’til 4/ The bus ride after school/ If I make it to heaven/ I hope it comes with a view/ So I could see LA,” Dom spits on “After School,” over a faint, clouded sample that conveys the feeling of childhood nostalgia. The Futuristiks provide a steady hand in the production on Get Home Safely, with J Keys and Money Mike giving Dom the precise lackadaisical landscape he needs to operate. Kennedy’s ear for beats is still impeccable, even if he doesn’t possess the lyrical versatility to do much with them.
Dom’s signature stagnated delivery is on full display on Get Home Safely with his rhyme scheme rarely deviating outside of “A-A.” It’s clear at this point that Dom will never be lauded for this technical skills as a rapper, but his true gift lies in his ability to craft thoughtful underdog anthems, despite this lack of lyrical flair.
On the hook of “South Central Love,” Dom raps, “I tried the mall, I tried the club/ I had the models, I tried the drugs.” There are several instances on Get Home Safely, albeit small, where you can tell Dom is perhaps finally coming to grips with the reality that his life is slowing down.
Dom Kennedy is 29, which is one year short of 30 for all the communications majors out there. As his career as an emcee continues and his Other People’s Money imprint translates into more cheddar in his jeans, you wonder if he will diversify the tropes of his music. He’s established a definite comfort zone and formulaic approach to his raps, but eventually he’ll have to expand upon his own limitations. When does Dom’s lyrical content extend outside the paucity of riding around with the top down and chasing after females?
Hopefully that moment arrives before the West Coast Fonz jumps the shark.