ON REPEAT: Domo Genesis’ Studio Debut is an Underrated Gem of the Neo-Soul Catalogue

This is a guest post from fellow writer Musicwithmink. This is the first time I’ve featured someone since January when I featured Steveforthedeaf, so I hope you enjoy this content from yet another great writer!

I think it’s safe to say that when most people think of Odd Future in 2018, they probably remember the collective as Tyler the Creator, Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, and somewhere between five and 20 other dudes that fell off five years ago. While the group’s three stars have been consistently (and rightfully) a part of the alternative hip-hop/R&B conversation in recent years, with their artistic progression and maturity since the proudly-ignorant OF days well-documented and highly celebrated, it’s easy to assume that those who created less buzz stayed in that stagnant teenage mindset and faded away as a result.

While that may be true for some, not every lesser-known member should be counted out – Syd Tha Kid’s group The Internet has been quietly releasing material throughout the 2010s and is coming out with a new album very soon, Mike G released a pretty solid mixtape on 4/20, and Domo Genesis has come out with a studio album and two mixtapes in just the past 3 years. Regrettably, it wasn’t until a month or so ago that I started delving into Domo’s solo material, but within just minutes of hitting play on his 2016 album Genesis, I knew I was being introduced to something special. Fully countering every expectation I had going into it, Genesis is an uplifting, mature, and beautiful hip-hop album with strong neo-soul influences, and it’s sure to sit firmly in my summer rotation.

Domo’s work in the early 2010s was marked by a sharp, cocky flow with braggadocious lyrical content to match, usually spat over the spacious, MIDI-centric instrumentals of Tyler the Creator and Left Brain. I can definitely get into that style, dated as it may be, so when I went into this album I expected to be moderately pleased by some more of that simplistic and hard-hitting content.  What I got, however, was completely different. In a good way.

The production on this album is top-notch – nearly every beat is lush but tasteful, featuring a nice combination of real instruments and MIDI, a ton of buttery Fender Rhodes (the number one way for producers to win my heart), and beautifully sung vocal hooks. The entire musical landscape is very contemplative; this matches the lyrical content, which most often concerns Domo’s meditations on his place in the music world, as an artist stuck somewhere between obscurity and fame and forced to live in the shadow of his adolescent success.

The three-track run of “Wanderer”, “Questions”, and “My Own” exemplifies this perfectly, all of them carrying the message that though Domo may not be a nobody, he’s still hungry and still has a lot left to prove. Later tracks speak similarly, with the line ‘If you don’t like this song, they’re gonna turn my lights off’ from “All Night” is a particularly good summation of the precariousness of Domo’s career. In addition to the solid lyrics and instrumentals, I was struck by just how well the tracks flow into each other. Many are bookended by spacy transitional sections that lead into the next track seamlessly, making much of the album feels like a single, episodic work.

The track “Go (Gas)”, produced by Tyler the Creator and featuring Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J, unfortunately, sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of this lineup. It’s not a bad song, and it’s clearly meant to be a throwback to Domo’s older style of carefree, arrogant bars (complete with very “Goblin/Wolf” sounding production from Tyler), but it would have fared so much better as a single or bonus track than as the midpoint of an otherwise much-classier album.

Still, aside from the awkward placement of that particular track and the somewhat one-dimensional overall subject matter, Genesis is an album that, in my opinion, should be way more talked about than it has been. The contemplative, motivational lyrics and bittersweet instrumentals, along with Domo’s flow, which is as solid and laid back as ever, make a great album for those quiet summer evenings spent with music, the sunset, and maybe some cheap beer. If you’re a fan of artists like Oddisee, Rapsody, Anderson .Paak (who has a feature on “Dapper”), and TPAB/Untitled Unmastered-era Kendrick, definitely give this one a shot.  

 

Why Opinions Are Needed

The year is 2018, the United States is still confused from one of the most interesting and strangest elections of all time. Violence and hate are once again on the rise; anger flows through almost everyone. Yet, a small light swims through the darkness. The light you are seeing is something or someone who goes against the grain, one who doesn’t pick sides nor do they have a bias towards anyone or anything. But just as it appears, it’s gone and consumed by the darkness. That small beacon of hope is now one with the evergrowing darkness that consumes the world. It’s now unjust and wrong to have a different idea of the world and what goes on in it.

I used to grow up thinking that it was exemplary to voice your opinion and to peacefully find solutions with other opinionators. In 2018, it is hard to find someone who isn’t politically sided or morally sided to a certain cause or belief. This leads to an issue of separation between friends, family, and community. Often enough, those friends, family, and communities form their own opinion on the world and the people in it, and sometimes this opinion varies from others. Speaking your mind and standing out is often considered incorrect as it goes against the ideal worldviews we as humans have curated. This issue is further pressed when individuals are berated for thinking differently. We need to support individuals right to form their own opinions as it’s the only way to hear a different side to a story.

A perfect example of hearing different sides of a story is from the D12 song titled “How Come”. “How Come” is about the group laying out their issues with each other especially with Eminem who at the time was at the peak of his career and overshadowed most if not all of the main members of the group. Each verse features either Eminem, Kon Artis, or Proof spelling out the issues they commonly see with each other and how much their friendship matters more than the money and fame. This adult way of handling opinions and issues allows for all members and parties involved to understand the viewpoints that others witness. In the end, D12 is always there for each other and that’s what “How Come” reinforces. This example of valuing opinions and working together find solutions is exactly what the world needs.

In the world, opinions are an absolute must if humans want to overcome and adapt to solve different issues that are thrown at them as a society. This is necessary in order to make the world a better place, however, the individuals and groups who attempt to silence these voices are ruining the whole point of self-expression. Living in a world where inaccurate news, scandals, and lying are to be expected leads to a plethora of problems for everyone to experience. I for one think that we need to express ourselves without judgment, no matter how different the expressed views are. Allowing to hear multiple sides to a story allows for a common solution if we as a collective work together instead of against each other. I truly hope in time we can respect other’s views and opinions to create a safer and more unified Earth for the future generations.

OPINIONATED: 5 of the Most Essential Hip-Hop Songs

I’m making this list as a guide for people to follow. This first version of this list is my top five current favorite songs of all time. I hope you at least listen to one of these songs after reading! If you like and enjoy the content that I have to offer please consider liking, following, and/or commenting on my posts. It really means a lot. Feel free to contact me for anything too! Thanks for your continued support!

5. Still D.R.E. – Dr. Dre

Every once in awhile we need to be reminded who we are in life, however, we should never forget who the Doc is. “Still D.R.E.” is that exact reminder of who Dr. Dre is and the role he played and continues to play in music. This song from his 1999 album, 2001 is and will forever be a statement of why Dr. Dre deserves to have his name in the history books. With a smooth feature from Snoop Dogg, this track captures everything about G-Funk music and releases it with enough power and suave that is almost impossible to beat. This song is the ultimate testament to having street cred especially when it comes to California.

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4. Gangsta’s Paradise

“Gangsta’s Paradise” is an absolute essential when it comes to hip-hop music especially from the 90’s era. Coolio really gave his all when it comes to this song, which has been known for being a critically acclaimed and commercial success. Coolio’s depiction of a gangsta’s paradise has been implemented into the minds and hearts of many specifically myself. Over the years, this song has made more and more sense to me as I began to understand the lyrics and the realism that Coolio details on this track. Very few songs have me revisiting them with age, however, “Gangsta’s Paradise” is one of the few exceptions. I must recommend this song to everyone even if you aren’t a fan of rap music and it’s meaning. This song I believe is universal in nature and is able to be enjoyed by almost everyone.

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3. Stan – Eminem

“Stan” is one of the greatest rap songs of all-time. This story of a man who essentially is the biggest fan of Eminem is heartbreaking and realistic every time I hear it. The story is powerful and teaches us a good lesson that we should give people time because they are more than likely busier and still attempting to make an effort to talk to you. Another blatant lesson of “Stan” is to simply not be a “Stan” of an artist to the point of it resulting in killing yourself for his attention. With a sampling of Dido and an emotional tale to boot, “Stan” will always be my favorite song by Eminem, while also being one of the most essential songs of all time.

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2. All Of The Lights – Kanye West

“All Of The Lights” is a certified classic and forever will be in my book. This Kanye West anthem is without a doubt my favorite song from him for many reasons, mainly the beat. The beat is composed mainly of trumpets, drums, and piano to create a chilling theme to an already amazing album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. “All Of The Lights” is the culmination of Kanye West’s hard work up to 2010. And yet, eight years later this song still holds up and surprisingly is still my favorite song by him even having released three albums since then. This Grammy-winning song deserves all of the praise it’s been given since it’s release and any further praise it will certainly garner in the future. With features from Rhianna, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Drake, The-Dream, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, Elly Jackson, Alvin Fields, Ken Lewis, Ryan Leslie, Tony Williams, and Charlie Wilson there’s no wonder why this will always be a staple of hip-hop music.

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1.Mr. Rager – Kid Cudi

My all-time favorite song is without a doubt “Mr. Rager”. This tale of fighting your demons is timeless and always gets me out of a slump because it helps me in understanding people and the problems we all suffer from. I treat this song as if it was a religion, I put my faith, praise, and soul into “Mr. Rager” because it’s the one song above the rest to guide me in life. “Mr. Rager” has never failed to help me, therefore, I have to make it the number one slot on this list. However, this song should be treated as an experience instead of just a song. Listen to this song with an open mind and let the music paint the story in your mind. I feel like it will be impossible for me to ever find a song I would consider greater than this one, however, with Kid Cudi releasing new albums every few years anything is possible.

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