Los Angeles is home to a lot of hip-hop’s hottest acts currently. Kendrick Lamar is rap’s poster child – telling tales of Compton’s streets with a lyrical ability unmatched. There’s YG, the blood gang member whose stories of home invasions and gang life over Mustard beats has brought him to the forefront of the new wave of gangster rappers.
There’s also the young, fun and unique sound of Odd Future led by the rapper turned business mogul Tyler Creator and then you can’t forget Nipsey Hussle, the reformed gangster who’s independent grind has helped him be able to sell his CD for a $100 price tag.
And then there’s Dom Kennedy, the Leimert Park legend and modern day mac. Dom Kennedy has been a staple in the game since 2010 with his third mixtape, From the Westside With Love. Recently however, Dom Kennedy has been somewhat of the forgotten man out of LA.
His 2015 album By Dom Kennedy was more than solid and while a somewhat a depart from his summertime vibe sound still showcased what Dom Kennedy the rapper is – smooth, laid-back and Los Angeles. It must be mentioned though, his follow up mixtape Best After Bobby 2 may have been the worst project in his discography.
Now that brings us to Los Angeles Is Not For Sale, Vol. 1, the 15 track album was exactly what he needed to redeem himself. If there’s one song that I think explains the album at it’s finest is track no. 6 California. The song serves as a love ballad for Dom’s beloved California and also a message to outsiders about what the real C A L I is about.
The title of the album is fitting in that Dom’s very clear about one thing throughout the album – Los Angeles sound and culture won’t be exploited by others. Because of that this album is exactly what it should be, Dom Kennedy being unapologetically Dom Kennedy. The last few attempts at making a project Dom might have been trying to be the ultimate rapper. On LAINFS Vol. 1 he holds back nothing. He’s braggadocios about his place not only in Los Angeles music hierarchy but that of hip-hop in music in general.
“Wonder why rap at a standstill. We ain’t dropped in a minute, yeah, and that is not a coincidence.”
The one objection that I’ve consistently heard when people talk about the album is how off beat Dom is on many of the tracks. My first response would be, have you ever listened to Dom? His whole aesthetic as a rapper is the fact he just rides the beat, for better or worse at times. My second response would be to point you to track no. 7 The 76 – “Say something real and be way off beat.”
Some of the other standout tracks on the album, TPO, 96 Cris, Passcode, Johnny Bench and 323 Go Crazy.
Dom Kennedy delivered in a way only Dom Kennedy could have delivered and that may have been the best part of this album. Also the vibes of this will surely be much greater come spring and summer, so patiently wait if that’s what you need to do.