July 25, 2012

Evan Nabavian is a pioneer in trap-step.

We make all manner of excuses, some more valid than others, for rappers without technical skill. French Montana’s ear for melody, Waka’s energy, and Jeezy’s Trapability® are all counterweights to the argument that a rapper, or to use a more lofty title, an MC, is one whose motherfucking brain is IBM compatible. You’re not going to find a verse on Dom Kennedy’s Yellow Album that you can wave at your English teacher as a validation of rap as a scholarly pursuit. Instead, you’ll find Dom’s style – summery, saliently ignorant brag rap – which largely falls short of serviceable, but actually works well a couple of times.

It’s no surprise that the best songs are the ones with the can’t-go-wrong guests, namely Freddie Gibbs and Kendrick Lamar. Dom mostly raps in the kind of slow, lazy flow you hear in off-the-top freestyles. It’s easy to mistake songs like “My Type of Party” and “Girls On Stage” as profound if you’re only listening to the contemplative beats behind them, but Dom is really just swirling flashy non-sequiturs. Kendrick does exactly what Dom is trying to do on “We Ball” with ‘Oh shit’ lines like, “Your bitch fixing he makeup in my rims, nigga!” It’s a win-win; Kendrick gets to let loose and have fun in a way that wouldn’t make sense on his next concept album and Dom gets a verse from the man of the hour.

Gibbs’s appearance on “Hangin’” is full of Makaveli snarl – a great answer to the airy low-rider vibe of the rest of the tape. Never one to scrounge a verse, Gibbs paints a vivid picture, drops some multisyllabic rhymes (gotta have those), and owns up to his contradictions. In all fairness to Dom Kennedy, both songs have truly addictive hooks and the closer, “P + H” is a moment of stoned apathy that you can play all summer. The tape serves two groups: West Coast completionists and future generations parsing obscure corners of Kendrick Lamar and Freddie Gibbs’ discographies. It’s a good find for both, or at least these three songs are.

MP3: Dom Kennedy ft. Kendrick Lamar – “We Ball”
MP3: Dom Kennedy ft. Freddie Gibbs – “Hangin”

MP3: Dom Kennedy – “P&H”

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