Within the first few hours of From the Westide, With Love II’s release, the album sold 3,100 copies. A mere two days later, Dom Kennedy’s full-length debut reached #2 on the iTunes hip-hop chart. When the time came for the Los Angeles native to take the stage at the iconic club S.O.B’s, the venue was packed. Dom played his set to a predictably fickle and territorial New York City crowd. But once the music finally started, there was no East Coast versus West Coast rivalry, just an eager crowd going word for word with the hip-hop impresario.
BULLETT: Do you believe in East Coast, West Coast competition?
Dom: Um, not really. I believe in competition period, with anybody. I believe in West Coast, West Coast competition, you know what I’m saying? I feel when people do their job it makes everyone rise to a new level. There should definitely be competition in rap. Everybody should push everybody. If you know this guy is over here working, staying up, putting out a great project, it makes you want to go “Damn, I want to do that”, and it brings out the best in everybody.
I notice that you don’t really wear any labels. Is that a conscious decision?
Yea. I was one of those kids who grew up in a Tommy Hilfiger, Polo type era- where everything was [written] across you. I was a big fan of that, and I understand that, and I love that, and that’s what I wore. But I always remember my dad saying “You doin’ free advertisement for all of them”. As I got older, I started to notice that all of these things that never faded, all the styles, all the trends, that people wore for a long time were the ones that were a little bit more toned down, well constructed, well made, not with a big name or cheap, just-for-right-now look. I try to stay away from those because I want to think that in twenty years I would wear this. I would come here to this office, and do this interview with the same thing on, and I would be cool with that. So, I try to keep that in mind. Right now, I try to buy things that are USA made, or people that I know make the clothes. But I like well-made, simple stuff.
Do you prefer live performances or recording in the studio?
Oh man… I mean both. I would say recording, just because that’s where new ideas happen, and I live for those moments. Shows are just kind of like a reward. You know, the recording and the writing process are just the work. That’s how I know I love my job, because I love that just as much as I love all the stuff that comes with it. Because without recording you don’t have a show. If what you’re making in the studio isn’t good, the show isn’t going to be good. So I definitely enjoy recording.
Your tapes have progressed so much from your lyrics to beat selection. You don’t use the regular Lex Lugar beats, especially now where everyone is going with heavy beats. You prefer to go with Drewbyrd, Poly, Chuck Inglish, and Roosevelt. What’s your beat selection process like?
First of all, I just look for something that has an emotion to it already. I feel like the beat, rapping, or any type of singing is an extra instrument on top of the music. So I look for beats and music that make me feel something first and foremost. I definitely like to work with the people that I know and the up-and-coming guys, because I feel like they have the most passion, and the hunger to do it that matches what I’m trying to do. We have that same sense of urgency. [We’re] still undiscovered in the main world’s talent level, but we are all definitely as talented as anybody.
What were you looking to achieve with Westside II?
First of all, to show people that it can be done again. I know that with the first one I got a lot better. So now, just to show people that it can be done again. The music will continue to mature, as well as myself, and to compete on every level. Putting it out on iTunes was a big step for me.
Westside II was released on O.P.M. What is O.P.M?
Other People’s Money, that’s my company. We put it out independent.
If you were to get signed, would you want to do a deal where you had O.P.M involved?
I would definitely love to work with other artists, and that was my goal from when I first started. The best way for me to help other artists or to explain to other people that I’m capable of doing it, was doing it myself. If I can put out a successful project that can sell records on iTunes, then I can definitely do it with other artists.