Dom Kennedy

Rising rapper Dom Kennedy is making a lot of noise, especially with his recently released Yellow Album. But, the Los Angeles native has been doing it for years … and from the beginning, he tried to be unique.

In 2008, at the age of 24, he got his first tattoo, which reads “In Loving Memory Of Hip Hop” across his wrist. What does that mean? He says it was inspired by Nas, and it helped him find himself as an aspiring artist.

In a recent interview with LA Stereo TV, Dom discussed how Nas’s 2006 album, Hip Hop is Dead, inspired that first tattoo, and came out his struggle to find an identity as an artist at the beginning of his career.

“It just kind of struck me and I made it my own,” Dom explanied, referring to the tattoo. “I mean, I put out my first project in 2008, so when I got the tattoo, I was probably 24. Before that, I was trying to figure out who am I, what do I want to say, who do I want to talk to you [in my music]. When you’re young, especially in LA, you don’t really know, and at this point in rap, it’s so watered down … there ain’t been no originators in like forever. Everything is just reference — to a n*****’s flow, this and that, even my sh**, too. At a certain point, I was definitely original with it, but it was definitely like west coast-influenced. The Yellow Album was like, ‘N****, we not doing none of that.'”

As the interview continued, the rapper explained his approach to the music on The Yellow Album, saying he was taking things in a different and unique direction. At the end of the day, he considers it a “dope piece of art.”

“If hip-hop was something that people did go at it [and] gave they all every time like they used to and try to inspire the next artists, try to be responsible and take it on some, ‘We just hustling just to do this, it’s the money’ kind of come-up, when it was that time, it would be a hip-hop album,” said Dom. “People hear my Yellow Album and some people [are] like, ‘Aw, that ain’t all rap’. Maybe I did that for a reason because I didn’t want you to like it, and that’s what bothers people.

“Singing on a beat is just another instrument to the beat, first of all,” he continued. “A lot of people don’t understand that, but I understand that on a different level, which is why I understand what I sound good on. I don’t even rap on The Yellow Album; it’s all conducting beats. Who’s simple, is it me, or is it you? Could I say 20 million words in one line, just to say one thing, or would I rather just say one thing beautifully?”

If you haven’t yet, download The Yellow Album now, over at DatPiff.com.