Dominique Young Unique is a raw, homemade talent from the Robles Park Neighborhood Projects of Tampa Bay, Florida. Domination
, her new mixtape has a teenage urgency that never lets up. It's an all out assault of dry drum machine beats, gamer bleeps, fat synths and Dominique's completely unselfconscious delivery. From the opening tom-toms of "Hot Girl," it's clear this nineteen-year-old rapper/singer is all business. "Bitch I'm gettin' rich while you're holding seven babies," she brags in "Blaster." This is music designed for escape, (on the dance floor and from the neighborhood) and as much as it sounds like a hell of a party, the stakes couldn't be higher.
In the super-aggressive two-minute track, "War Talk," Dominique claims to be "A gangsta hard hitter out of eight-one-trey." It's a turf-claiming, gun-wielding threat of a jam, but somehow, even when she says she's going to show you her glock, you feel she'd rather be in the studio making music. As she says in "Music Time," "I aint talking bout no guns I aint talking bout no fight." The pleasure she takes in her motormouth vocals is palpable, and like her videos, sexy/awkward.
This mixtape is a real-time documentation of a tough girl finding her voice. You can hear Dominique trying to keep up with producer David Alexander's manic grooves, and hats off to him for keeping them lean and mean. There's not an ounce of fat on Domination
; most of the twelve songs clock in at around two and a half minutes and are models of economy. Throbbing bass synth, jittery programming, a sample or two and that's it. No guitars, no arty instrumental flourishes.
It's refreshing to hear something so pure, particularly since we're used to being sold such shallow teen-girl dreams. There's nothing wrong with Ke$ha and her "dirty free for all" and her pumped and primed mass-media machine. But that feels pretty empty compared to the gritty reality that is Dominique's life. Perhaps that's why blogs and websites normally devoted to breaking reverb-drenched indie bands or Glo-fi DJ's have jumped on the Dominique Young Unique bandwagon. There's an energy and a real DIY aesthetic here that's hard to resist.
Granted, there's plenty of room to grow. Dominique has a tendency to repeat lines when she runs out of ideas and there are a few too many calls for respect, and that's something that only comes with time and survival. But who can blame her for coming out swinging?
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Dominique Young Unique on Myspace