Dom Kennedy spent a day in Athens, Ohio on Saturday and gave me just enough time to snag an interview with him. Headlining Ohio University's Sibs Weekend Concert along with Big K.R.I.T., The Leimert Park legend sits down with me to talk about his highly anticipated Yellow Album, his plans for 2012 and how Leimert Park has influenced his career.
Dom says that Yellow Album will be a more mature version of his music and also more "forward thinking." He also recently announced his This is Dom Kennedy Tour in which he is still looking for an opener.
The L.A. native also expands on when he decided that music would be his full-time occupation and on the fact that it took him a long time to make money in the industry. "I knew it was gonna take a while to do it," he said. "But it something like around 2005 I started to prepare myself for."
Already in full swing in 2012 (not 2011), Dom Kennedy says he wants to challenge his comfort zone and build on the hype already garnered from From the Westside With Love, The Original Dom Kennedy and From the Westside With Love II. With a slew of talented west coast colleges to compete with like Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Hopsin and Odd Future just to name a few, Dom has his work cut out for him. Luckily, his fans and the blogs know he'll never stop Grind'n.
You can see the full video interview below thanks to the homies over at CreMedia Productions, who produced the whole thing:
Paul Meara: Aye what’s good, Dom Kennedy?
Dom Kennedy: What up, what up, what up man?
PM: How does it feel to be in Athens?
Dom Kennedy: I mean first time, you know what I’m sayin? first time is always good, so it’s exciting to see new places, new people. You know, the theatre we performin’ at looks real dope. It looks like it got a lot of history, happy to be a part of that for sure.
PM: Right, last time we talked, Westside With Love II just dropped, now you’re coming up on Yellow Album. How is Yellow Album gonna be in comparison to maybe Westside II, original Dom, or the first Westside?
Dom Kennedy: Well I feel like musically, you know it’s a lot more mature in terms of like… I feel like a lot of my past projects were rooted in, like, things I was influenced in, you know what I’m sayin? Like, it was kind of like me, you know, making my own music based upon the things that I had, that I loved and that I liked growing up and I feel like Yellow Album, I wanted it to be like more forward thinking, you know what I’m sayin? Like a Dom Kennedy project that was like rooted more in the future, if I can say that, so that’s kind of like the sound and the feeling that I’m going for.
PM: Right, and I know and you got big plans for 2011, what do you think’s gonna make 2011 you’re best year?
Dom Kennedy: 12.
PM: 2012. (Laughs) You’re right!
Dom Kennedy: I mean, I already booked the tour. I got a tour going, This is Dom Kennedy Tour in the end of March through all of April, coast to coast, so that’s like my first national tour I would say. So, I’m really, really excited about that and happy to have the opportunity to be doing that, so that’s already a bonus to like get that established early in the year. Yellow Album, just you know, new music is just always fun to put out and especially a project like this because it’s kind of like a challenge for me and it’s kind of like stepping outside of, not really my comfort zone because its music at the end of the day, but I kind of wanted to like challenge myself and do something I haven’t really done before and just, you know, be interesting, so, those is like two big landmarks in my career right there I feel like.
PM: The Leimert Park Legend. Just talk about how that area is really put into your music.
Dom Kennedy: Well really it just kind of, it was kind of something that just, it was a place that I grew up and I lived with my mom and my little sister, you know, for a lot of years and then I moved away then I moved back as I became a young man, going, after I got out of high school, kind of had my own apartment. It’s the place where I really decided to pursue music and a lot of my projects, you know, 25th Hour, From the Westside With Love was like written in my apartment in Leimert. Just with me, my computer, my thoughts, and notebook and things like that. So it’s kind of the place where I got my soul, kind of, musically, you know. So it’s kind of something that just stuck with me.
PM: When was that moment you knew that you wanted to drop the nine to five and actually decide that music was going to be your career?
Dom Kennedy: I never really had, I only had like one job, really, you know what I’m sayin, like a real job, but um, man, probably like 2005, I would say, is kind of when I started getting ideas in my head that it was like, you know, it was something that was worth pursuing and that I could actually have a shot at doing well at, you know. So I kind of started focusing my life and my lifestyle changed to go towards music. I knew it was gonna take a while, you know what I’m saying? To be successful and to get to a point where I was making a living, you know? Even being successful and then making a living, I knew it was gonna take a while to do it, but it something like around 2005 I started to prepare myself for.
PM: You’re also into big into the fashion aspect of hip hop, you got the deal with The Hundreds. So why is fashion so big to you? Obviously it’s a positive sort of thing, so why is that such a big deal?
Dom Kennedy: I mean it’s kind of just how I always was you know? It’s kind of just like a lot of things in music I feel like with certain artists they just carry over from your real life, it’s certain things that translate that you can’t really fake or like change or something, or and just, me being a regular kid I was always into like looking nice. Like what was the new style, the new fashion, coming that was going to be popular next year, you know what I’m saying? That was just something I was always into, just trying to do my own thing. Like take what was current but put my own spin on it so I didn’t look like everybody else so it didn’t seem so common or regular. So it was just something that you know just naturally carried into my music as one of the main things I’m about and that I talk about because that’s how I am, that’s how I was.
PM: You’ve done a lot of big time collaborations including Big Krit who’s also going to be here tonight. Who would be somebody that you haven’t worked with that you would like to get in the studio with?
Dom Kennedy: Man it’s probably a lot of people, mainly producers but I still haven’t been able to work with DJ Quik, you know what I’m saying? Him being one of my favorite of all time. Somebody like DJ Quik, whether it be just production or just hopping on one of my songs would be like big for me. I always draw blanks but that’s one for sure. Like after From the Westside Love Tour, with recent times I’ve been able to work with a lot of people, and I have a lot (of) collaborations coming out this year with like bigger artists but definitely DJ Quick is like one of the people I just haven’t been able to connect it with where we could sit down and do something.
PM: How big would that be to have DJ Quik collaborate? I mean he’s a west coast legend. What would that mean to say, "I worked with somebody like DJ Quik?"
Dom Kennedy: I mean for me its like, I guess it would be like playing basketball with your, you know, with your hero if you was in the NBA. You know what I’m saying? Because I really feel like its not too many people I could say that if they wasn’t around, if they didn’t, if I didn’t hear them I wouldn’t be doing music the way I’m doing it. DJ Quik is definitely one of those people that if I didn’t really grow up listening to his music, I probably wouldn’t be the Dom Kennedy that I am musically today.