“Today is our greatest day, tomorrow is what we look ahead to. We can’t return.”
Dom Kennedy knew it. He was conscious the smattering boos coming from his as soon as religious fan-base as a result of his drop-f musically.
For a second — and that’s a cut up second — he buckled on the thought presumably falling f. Instead being devoured by his skeptics, in October, he nimbly crafted his newest masterwork Volume Two, and dismissed ideas him being completed. For Dom, all he wanted was time to remind himself his artistry, and since that, he was in a position to deny Father Time any ounce satisfaction.
"I needed to restart my profession and have a look at it differently over the past 18-24 months," says Kennedy. "I used to be pleased to deal with who I’m and what I’m about. You can’t be like, 'It’s all good' when it’s not all good. I would get 25 nice feedback and have two individuals like, 'Man, what’s happening with this?' I’ve to be true to either side."
On "Best Friend," Kennedy sacks his naysayers with the identical silvery supply that earned him acclaim on his 2012 magnum opus Yellow Album. "Heard they are saying I fell f, I'm like, 'How?'/ Archie Davis, birthday dinner Mr. Chow," he confidently raps on the tune's refrain. Later, Kennedy retains his buttery move intact when cruising by way of the J.LBS-produced, "My Benz," which definitely indicators the return LA's prodigal son.
"As a person, I don’t know some other option to put my life than to my music. I’m not an artist simply making songs on beats and speaking about common stuff, I put who I hang around with, locations I’m going, my son, issues I do, locations I went. I’m making an attempt to provide the actual life visible," he says.
Billboard spoke to Dom Kennedy on coping with critics, bouncing again with Volume Two, limiting himself on options, not signing with Rick Ross, and witnessing the expansion Nipsey Hussle. Check it out under.
I’m not gonna lie, man. I used to be harsh on you for a minute as a result of me and my boys grew up on you. To us, Yellow Album is a traditional, and we had been involved as a result of we would have liked that previous Dom. Then, the brand new tape comes out and also you’re in your shit entrance to again. Did any the criticism get to you and was that motivation when engaged on this album?
Man, it’s at all times motivation. I’m at all times on the lookout for methods to precise myself. As an artist, for me, the one different issues I did in addition to rap that I took significantly was taking part in baseball after I was youthful. I used to be fairly good at it. I preferred being on the pitcher’s mound, which means like, I couldn’t actually fear about what individuals within the stands had been saying. When you go to a Yankee recreation, they will’t be like, “What y’all assume I ought to throw proper now?” They simply gotta do their factor. If you’re fortunate sufficient to play season after season, you’re going to need to reply some questions and show your self.
I needed to restart my profession and have a look at it differently over the past 18-24 months. I used to be pleased to deal with who I’m and what I’m about. You can’t be like, “It’s all good” when it’s not all good. I would get 25 nice feedback and have two individuals like, “Man, what’s happening with this?” I’ve to be true to either side. You need to be sincere with your self. I took it as a possibility to know the place I used to be at with my profession. People can’t see me revamping shit, they only see the completed product. It is an effective time to deal with stuff whenever you’re making an album. I prefer to put all it within the music.
I really like you bringing the baseball comparability up as a result of the entire time I used to be pondering this is sort of a Clayton Kershaw scenario, ‘trigger you realize Clayton cooks within the common season. Then, if he has one dangerous recreation within the postseason, everyone’s like, “What’s up with him?” At any level, was your confidence shaken?
Nah, by no means. Nobody’s going to provide me my confidence, so who’s going to take it away? I’d say my confidence in making music and operating my label] OPM as an organization, we’re stronger than ever at present. We needed to undergo some trials and tribulations and I needed to undergo powerful instances and query my complete motive and system to be able to get right here, however that’s the sweetness it. I wouldn’t have what I’ve going ahead if I didn’t in any respect. I wouldn’t have this half my profession and all of the music I’m placing out now, and the visuals, if I didn’t need to re-examine what’s happening. It wasn’t only one factor, it began on the high and all the best way down.
Talk about your evolution as a person and as an artist sinceYellow Album.
As a person, I don’t know some other option to put my life than to my music. I’m not an artist simply making songs on beats and speaking about common stuff — I put who I hang around with, locations I’m going, my son, issues I do. I’m making an attempt to provide the real-life visible. I’m wanting round and I’m making dope music, I’m wanting round and I’m proud of how issues are going. Today is our greatest day, tomorrow is what we look ahead to. We can’t return.
As an artist, it’s about with the ability to climate traits, I assume, can also be what I realized. There’s a cause why we will come to New York proper now, with the album not even being out. We nonetheless bought nice crowds on tour, and that’s as a result of what we put into the music and the small print.
I do know you’re an enormous Pac fan, and you probably did “Brenda’s Baby.” Was that any correlation to “Brenda’s Got a Baby”?
All the best way. I by no means felt the necessity to tackle that, as a result of I hoped it could be apparent. For the those that know, it ought to be apparent, and for the those that don’t know, somebody will inform them. The deeper which means was that the ladies now that I’ve to take care of, and everyone on the planet sees — the coming–age females at present — they’re those that he was speaking about, that their mother threw them within the trash can. That’s what it means, and that’s why on the refrain it’s merely, “She grown now.” It’s nothing that she might do. He was speaking concerning the teenage lady that point, wrapping her child up and making an attempt to cover her, however these are the ladies that y’all threw away. This is what they grew to become.
The social media shit, and all of the sexualization every thing — you realize, how the music shit sounds and what individuals are into — that is the lady he was speaking about. You might name them a era. I’d name them "Brenda’s Babies." That’s what the tune is about. If I needed to give them a reputation, "Generation X," "Y," "Z," it could be "Brenda’s Babies." That’s what they’re, whether or not they notice it or not.
Back within the day, you probably did “Erica Pt. 1” and “Erica Pt. 2.” Since you say we’re in a era Brenda’s Babies, do you miss that traditional ‘90s Nia Long type lady, compared to the on a regular basis Instagram fashions we see and encounter?
I really feel like they’re nonetheless on the market, however differently. Like the Lauryn Hills and Nia Longs — not tremendous sexual however nonetheless clever and exquisite and all that. I really feel like they’re nonetheless on the market, however they’re simply not promoted as a lot.
Honestly, that’s our fault. We gotta write these tales. Nobody’s going to put in writing them for you. Nobody’s going to put in writing your sister, your mother, your homegirl, roughly than what she is. I wish to imagine John Singleton, Spike Lee — I do know I’m lacking lots individuals — however the artists and people who find themselves writing these songs, they really knew these ladies. Queen Latifah’s video was simply as widespread as De La Soul’s and Big Daddy Kane’s again within the day].
Today, you bought Nicki Minaj, and he or she’s tremendous proficient however no one’s going to idiot themselves and say half what she does isn’t sexual. It’s like just a little child — each time he goes on Instagram] Live, he’s smoking. Every time she’s on Live, she bought her titties within the digital camera. She is aware of that. It’s half it. Where’s the one who’s simply nearly as good at rapping, simply as clever and simply as fly, however that could be secondary? They go f examples, man. Kids go f examples. They don’t know nothing else. They’re not keen to do one thing totally different except they bought an actual robust perception in himself and a powerful basis.
There was a report on the undertaking that I actually preferred, the “Trust Interlude.” You spoke about steppin’ up.
Yup. “Same time my son began dropping his mates, I needed to step my recreation up.”
How has fatherhood advanced as time went on for you?
My son, to me, is sort of a marker in time. He was born after I was nonetheless on the come up. Now, he’s about to be eight years previous, and other people know I would drop one thing right here — and I’m taking a look at him round that point he was six or seven, and his entrance tooth had been falling out — and it’s like, man, shit is transferring. The earth is spinnin’, dawg. If you don’t spin with it and develop up, regardless what’s going on — you could possibly blame this individual or blame this individual — however if you happen to don’t do what you gotta do for your self and your thoughts to increase, you’ll be in the identical fucked-up spot.
With me having a son, and God placing that instantly in entrance my face, saying, “Look, he’s going to be 16 regardless. If you don’t need to be shit, he’s nonetheless going to go to highschool. That day’s going to come back." I’m taking a look at him like, "Yeah, I’m doing cool but additionally I bought to step my shit up as a result of I can’t be representing for all these youngsters and my son taking a look at a foul instance." It’s at all times a motivation. The battle isn’t at all times with the critics exterior, it’s in your self. Are you going to be actual with your self and what’s happening, and be like “I might put extra into this"?
Time is a motherfucker. Me saying that, stepping my recreation up and correlating to my son, and having a marker that’s associated to me that’s my blood, being my true take a look at time. I can’t go and miss two birthdays and are available again with nothing. He might perceive, like, “He was working — that’s why we bought this and that’s why we bought this.” But think about you being gone for 4 years and also you simply pop up. That’s not who I’m.
What I respect about your artistry is that you just nonetheless determined to maintain the artwork the interlude alive. How vital has that been for you and your profession?
Intermissions for me are additionally items music, but additionally moments in time and moments in my ideas actually, regarding one thing that’s happening. If you have a look at “Dominic’s Intermission” on Volume 2, it’s extra alongside the traces being mild hearted, there could be some traces in there that can make you assume, however for probably the most half it’s mild hearted. “A Intermission for Watts” is similar method nevertheless it’s directed to Get Home Safely as a result of that’s how we had been residing on the time, and people little experiences could be one thing that occurs. It’s like, “Damn, I must share this.”
“Dominic’s Intermission” is me sitting within the automotive, every thing going round in my neighborhood. Everybody that is aware of me is aware of I be chilling. If you’re simply kicking it with me, and that tune comes on, it could signify what it actually seems like. Even if you happen to’re not there and also you play that interlude, you’d perceive the vibe. In the six-figure vehicles within the hood parked within the village, that’s simply actual. That’s not likely a tune, that’s simply me providing you with an thought what’s happening.
I had 24HRS right here a pair weeks in the past and he performed me a pair joints from the album, and also you had been on two them. He was telling me you’re very selective in phrases who you do options for. Why is that?
I don’t imagine in individuals except I do know and see you and rock with you. If I confirmed you my DMs proper now, it’s plagued by individuals like, “How a lot?” People could be shocked to know that even to today — I’ve been doing this for 10 years — I’ve by no means gotten cash for a characteristic. If I ever did a characteristic, it was just because I fuck with the individual I did the characteristic for. I used to be constructing and believing that. If they’re on my undertaking, it’s the identical factor. I don’t simply get excited to do a tune simply because someone has $5,000 or $10 thousand and I don’t know them. If I don’t imagine in them, I don’t need to do it.
In the case 24, he labored with Hit-Boy — we’ve been working for a very long time, and we vibe. It’s nothing. We would possibly do 10 songs. He’s on a pair songs on me and Hit-Boy’s subsequent undertaking. It’s actually us simply working as homies. “I would like you on this,” or “This tune is dope, put that in your album.” We do no matter we gotta do. We go in there like a financial institution theft. Everybody might get some, however if you happen to’re not on the staff, what do I’ve a cause to do a tune with you for? I don’t have a look at the rap recreation like I’ve to do a characteristic and get $50,000 for it.
You’ve completed options and also you’ve been on tracks with Kendrick and Nipsey. What does it seem like for you whenever you see these guys and their evolution, particularly Nip with Victory Lap? What does their development imply for the West Coast?
The factor about Nip’s scenario and his imprint] All Money In is, it’s an organization I really respect. We’re every week in on this tour and had a gathering on our bus about accountability. It’s like an NFL staff. For the Patriots, it’s Team Owner Robert] Kraft all the best way down] to the water dude. Whether they understand it or not, everyone has to do a superb job, and characterize the brand proper. I rock with them as a result of that. I feel the most effective factor about Nip and what he’s doing for town is he didn’t compromise nothing to get what he wished. No matter how lengthy he took and what he needed to undergo.. and it didn’t even take that lengthy as a result of your second is your second. I used to be simply proud him and pleased for him.
I instructed him I’m proud him, as a result of I bear in mind the primary time I ever heard a Nipsey Hussle. The first time I met him, and seeing him and other people bumping shit again then. Like 2008 mixtape] Bullets Ain’t Got No Name and residing in South Central and listening to individuals taking part in that for the primary time, to Victory Lap dropping. I used to be actually pleased for him, as a result of I do know what it’s like to arrange on your second. I really feel like he was. I really feel like he had the appropriate issues to say. If you don’t undergo shit, you’re taking that shit with no consideration otherwise you may not be as ready to talk on what you’ll want to be talking on. He was prepared and all of the press he did talking on the enterprise aspect it, it was simply the appropriate aspect.
Speaking the enterprise aspect, I really feel such as you’re grossly underrated on the unbiased entrance and what you probably did with OPM. How would you say the unbiased world has modified from whenever you first began to now?
I’d say again then, it was like a novelty factor. Now it’s the cash coming again to it. Of course they need the identify and the tag to say “I’m unbiased,” however how many individuals are actually unbiased? You’ll by no means know. At the identical time, I rock with it as a result of the cash’s coming again to it, and the management is.
I wish to see extra joint ventures and extra artists proudly owning their masters and having firms. At the top the day, that’s what occurs in any case. When you drop, they don’t need your masters if you happen to didn’t make no cash. If you blow up, you’re going to need to create your individual seems and your individual model — we already know this. I type really feel like artists after they first signal, they get trapped into simply the look “I bought a report deal.”
Growing up, watching No Limit and Roc A Fella, Bad Boy, Death Row, that was at all times in my spirit. That’s not one thing I fronted on. I grew up like, “I’m not working for no one.” I don’t care what occurs, if I make a $1,000 or $1,000,000, I ain’t working for you. We might work collectively or be companions, however why would I deliver my thought, my imaginative and prescient, my firm, my artist and simply give it to you?
I bear in mind again within the day, Rick Ross was making an attempt to get you over to Maybach. Why did that by no means come to fruition?
That’s about the one individual in enterprise I actually respect and bought love for, who reached out to me and confirmed me main love after I was first beginning and actually, actually genuinely seemed out and confirmed me shit I in any other case wouldn’t have seen. It’s Ross. But similar to now, at the moment, I used to be tremendous independent-minded. It was by no means nothing mentioned or dropped at the desk that allowed me to articulate what I’m speaking about now. I don’t work good with simply the artist delivering your album, "look, cool" — that’s not what I’m. Not at 24 or 34. I bought simply as a lot to fer as the one that owns this constructing and retains the lights on. One day, that’s going to be me. Today, for my individuals, that’s me, so I’ve to behave accordingly.
With the MMG factor, that’s what I used to be at all times on the lookout for, and at the moment, I used to be developing and sizzling simply in individuals’s mouths as a rapper — and that’s what they had been on the lookout for, simply an artist to associate with their motion. I used to be at all times on the lookout for greater than that. Ross is a strong dude and every thing he’s doing now, I need to do. From having eating places, to drinks, even again then he was into actual property, he at all times has been a boss on some enterprise shit, fo' sho. I can’t vouch for lots individuals however that man, he be on his shit regardless the raps. He’d present me brochures like, “Look at this home. I’m going to go have a look at this on on Saturday,” whereas we’re in his different home. I respect him regardless, as a result of on the finish the day, that’s what I’m making an attempt to do for my household.
How has teaming up with Hit-Boy sharpened your abilities as an artist?
I owe all of it to him. Coming f By Dom Kennedy and Volume 1 and seeing how issues labored out and the way I used to be annoyed and the way I couldn’t get my imaginative and prescient to be introduced how I wished to — and it was the primary time for me the place I needed to wrestle just a little bit and determine issues out. That’s across the time he and I began linking.
He hasn’t been on my album, however the music we created — and dealing with someone who’s unbiased spirited as effectively, however nonetheless has a reputation within the mainstream as I do — simply moved my spirit on this shit. It was like having a brother that you could possibly simply go in, and we ain’t complaining or worrying about what we bought. We’re simply going to kill as many motherfuckers at present, and are available again tomorrow. And to have the ability to do this and nonetheless keep the approach to life that we bought was a blessing. I began to appreciate that, and that’s why we’re going to rock endlessly. I couldn’t even think about the place I’d be at or what I’m about to do if it weren’t for working with Hit so intently these final 18 months, for actual. He helped me out lots and I’m certain he’d say the identical factor on my behalf.
Sometimes, you simply want that, how they are saying — “metal sharpens metal.” One man sharpens one other. Seeing somebody like, “Okay, my n—a tryna get it,” that’s what I wanted to see. Because for a very long time, I used to be working on my own and difficult myself. You might get misplaced in that. I wanted that reset. Visually, to work with someone and get out my consolation zone. It might get simple to be like, “I don’t need to do that.” Work with my individuals or on my own. But working along with his individuals, I bought songs with so many motherfuckers, from pop stars to extra underground cats like 24 which might be nonetheless on the come up.
If you could possibly decide a tune or album to function the soundtrack to your life, what would you decide and why?
That JAY-Z traditional] “Can I Live?” popped in my thoughts. I’m doing my factor, however I bought extra to do. You see me and you realize who I’m kind anthem. I feel that’s what individuals love about JAY-Z. You can’t deny the younger black child out wherever he comes from in America who actually bought it and is basically doing his factor. I feel that’s what I characterize. I feel that’s what that tune is. I’m cool and I can go to the bar and purchase the bottles, I might do this. I’m fairly straight. Regardless what you assume it’s and what it’s not, it’s like, "Can I stay?" At the top the day, I bought a crib. I purchased too many vehicles. What we doing now’s we’re going above and past.
Now it could be time for that Hard Knock Life shit. That’s what we on now. That dynasty shit. That’s what I’m making an attempt to get my staff prepared for. Kids is watching, individuals is watching, and we’ve got to continually elevate.
If you could possibly decide one phrase to title this chapter in your life, what wouldn’t it be and why?
Patience. I really feel like that was the final nice lesson I heard in life to be able to be who I’m and maintain going ahead on this subsequent chapter. I needed to be taught persistence. I spotted within the final 18 months, no matter occurs in life, you possibly can’t return. If you’re constructing for one thing, you gotta imagine in it. You can’t actually inform individuals in six months you’re going to vary the world, it’s a must to simply understand it and maintain working in direction of it but additionally have that persistence to maintain curating, maintain your mouth shut, observe, take the reward, take the criticism. Just be affected person since you might additionally break lots issues by dashing or evaluating. Rather a lot individuals crash that method.
I actually needed to be taught a significant lesson in persistence. I spotted as an individual, that was one factor I didn’t have. Let the play develop. All I needed to do was be prepared when the individuals had been on the lookout for me. All the remaining this shit ain’t actually bought nothing to do with me. Whenever individuals see Dom Kennedy or OPM, that shit gotta be dope. That’s the one concern. That got here from persistence. Some individuals on the flip aspect that will say timing is every thing and that’s true. Time and persistence is similar factor to me, you gotta let shit develop. It’s all half the story. You can’t rush greatness. You can’t push your self as much as a plateau, the Super Bowl is in February, regardless. I’m taking part in for the trophy, that’s all I care about.