Dom Kennedy - Get Home Safely

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Style reigns over substance on much of "Get Home Safely," but Dom Kennedy's effortlessness and hyper-locality throw things back to old West Coast Hip Hop.

Back before the blogosphere erupted over Black Hippy and Odd Future, before every socially conscious release was weighed as “post-Kendrick Lamar,” West Coast Hip Hop was lyrically and aurally easy to digest. Dr. Dre, Snoop and Too Short put California on the map with weed-addled raps over melodic synthesizers and oozing bass, and the G-funk movement was rooted in a certain effortlessness that every listener wanted to emulate. One era’s not necessarily better than the other, but every time something new drops out of LA these days, it seems the two are arbitrarily juxtaposed. Those trying to imprudently trumpet the “return of the West” with each critically acclaimed album won’t find Dom Kennedy’s Get Home Safely anything out of the ordinary; those looking for any remnants of early ‘90s Hip Hop in today’s California scene will have the project in rotation for weeks to come.

Dom Kennedy is the genre’s ambassador for not trying too hard, and Get Home Safely stands out in 2013 for refusing to force anything. It also doesn’t challenge itself much, and the album’s potential is stunted by casualness eventually blending with complacency over the course of 16 songs. If Pusha T just came out with My Name Is My Name as the “conscious dopeboy,” then Dom’s the conscious hedonist—his strengths lying in candor and an unfiltered stream of consciousness that makes him a storyteller not over-telling his story. At times, Get Home Safely is conversational, like when he easily dismisses the haters and divulges into his daily lifestyle on “Dominic,” and other times it’s cliché, like when he rifles off tried-and-true lines about hoes on “All Girl Crazy.” But both songs—and the other 14 tracks on the album—are buoyed by plush, cohesive production that’s a Parliament sample and Nate Dogg hook away from bringing it back to 1992.

Despite dropping in October, Get Home Safely is brimming with summer jams, and the Futuristiks (producers of the album’s first 12 songs) arm Dom to the teeth with sunny soundscapes. “Honey Buns” has him spitting game over creeping bass, while “South Central Love” is a breezy cut dedicated to local ladies. Few tracks are without platitudes; there’s no excuse for lines like, “Niggas know how I do, bitches know how I do,” on “After School,” a song with nostalgic themes that has Dom musing over an old friend and the view from Heaven. And perhaps the line, “I talk about hoes ‘cause they be on us like that” from “Lets Be Friends” would’ve cut it on an early Death Row release, but in 2013, an emcee of Dom’s caliber can’t be regurgitating Hip Hop’s most hackneyed sayings.

That’s not to say Get Home Safely isn’t without its moments of brilliance. On “17,” Dom praises his father’s work ethic and slights The Beatles for Jodeci while claiming, “Before the president was black, shit, I wasn’t votin’.”  The album’s last song, “The 5 Year Theory (Real Shit Last),” shows him packing his densest multisyllabics, reflecting on his career, longevity and independent hustle over triumphant horns. And the album’s shining moment, “Black Bentleys,” is loaded with introspection and quotables.

“I’m proud that I stayed up until 6:30 in the morning to do it to get it all out. It’s probably my favorite song I’ve ever written,” he told HipHopDX back in August. It certainly lives up to the hype.

The album’s focus on hyper-locality is as present in the lyrics as it is in the production, and name-drops of Taste of Soul, El Pollo Loco, Kenneth Hahn and Crenshaw do Los Angeles as much justice as the thick, Chronic-style basslines. There are certainly times when something is left to be desired, but even when it doesn’t feel like Dom’s saying much, he’s touching on a visceral component of Funk that’s been absent for quite some time. One characteristic of the album is Dom allotting the last minute of a song to let the beat ride out, stepping in only to repeat a chorus or give a shoutout. He does it on more than half of the tracks, but it’s strangely not a cop out. Instead, Dom lets the vibe of his project speak as loudly as its hooks and verses.

“Don’t withhold the knowledge you acquire,” Dom says in spoken word as he reads a letter from incarcerated cousin Joey Supreme. At times, it feels like he’s holding back when he could be churning out 16 “Black Bentleys.” But that would be forcing it, something that Dom Kennedy has no interest in doing after spending a half-decade building a fan base off of strictly keeping it real. The final line of Joey’s letter, which reads, “more importantly, keep supplying that dope music,” remains the top priority.

42 Comments

  • banghard

    this mo** writer need a big blunt to chill out it's music not science !!

  • mr floss

    how about this , get me an editor that actually likes this album to review or all of you editors do a roundtable meeting and make ur choice about the review then.

  • Ajussi19

    Garbage album...should have given this one out for free

  • Malaney Young

    Anyone who is a big fan of Dom knows that this album sucks.

  • Furgersen7

    SICK ALBUM ! #F7BEATS

  • Terrell

    I honestly think he could have done better this album sounds like something I would listen to when taking a nap. From the westside with love 1 and 2 where so much better.

  • K3llz

    You kno dom is a hella humble dude soo you can't expect the nigga to come out wit some shot thts jumping like tyga or schoolboy Q (just to name some artist from the west coast) he's bout to come out wit some real cuts tht u can chill and bump too! It's done shit I would bang in my car on my way to school early in the mornin..then bump even on my way to a party or some shit...he's a nigga tht tells stories but at the same time has u bobbin Yur head uncontrollably just cuz the beat is dope. And he still says shit tht u can relate to like in "17" and "After School" so don't bitch over it sayin "ohh it's trash no bars " don't expect tht when u buy the album and honestly it probably deserves a 3.8/5 or 4/5 just my opinion ..but it's just disrespectful to give it a 3/5

  • TRE

    Dom has a boring ass flow all he does is talk over beats on almost every song hes ever made. weak content, zero wordplay on this album. Id say 1 but ill give it a 2 for production.

  • bass219

    My west coast boy put me on Dom. Like others, i disagree, this is a 4/5. Beats are bananas

  • K.fiddy

    I definitely DO NOT AGREE with this rating. This is a dope album. Unfortunately this is NOT THE FIRST TIME i'm disappointed with DX's rating...I'm beginning to question the editor's credibility as far as the music you rate. I thought DX was the answer to our previous disappointment with The Source!

  • gzup

    I haven't been on DX for a while and this is apart of the reason... I've seen trash get higher ratings than this. This album is dope hell and deserves at least a 4. Dom's flows are simple but say a lot while being super relatable. And the beats are amazing. Afterschool and BlackBentleys especially

  • Versace Stefano

    This review is criminal. 4/5 easy.

  • theoneandonlyofcourse

    Total trash.

  • theoneandonlyofcourse

    Wow. This guy is awful.

  • zna

    Cali shit in fall. Dope

  • A Person

    solid album, among my top 10 of the year, but not near the top 4.1/5

  • ykk

    Album of the year as far as quality

  • Mike

    This shit so dope. I usually agree with DX ratings but they sleeping on Dom heavily right now. West coast stand up

    • Anonymous

      You usually agree? They sleep on everybody. And then they'll turn around and give some undeserving backpack shit a 5.0 just cuz its some backpack shit. And they give every commercial album the same two scary ass scores (4.0 or 3.5). I hate these editors.

  • Anonymous

    steven goldstein dont know shit about music

  • mr floss

    This is da best album of the year by fsr! If you don,t know thats cool this just aint for you. The boy is a little conscious , a little gangsta , a little playa , a little lyrical and a little old school. Its all good though , look what happened to j.cole or any of those rappers that got popular and signed a deal , they done fell off. As far as goldstein goes , stay reviewing dem same eastcoast cats you always do, to this day fools still hatin on da west. It doesnt matter , those that love da west r used to it. Another masterpiece from dom , the most consistant fool in da game , 4.5 /5.

    • mr floss

      to me this cat is deep without saying a whole lot. it aint all about bars and battling hes about the music and he is humble. sometimes he drops some knowledge and sometimes he just flows with the track . his prod has always been dope and this one is more positive.

  • BigWo0orm45

    Glad im not the only one disappointed in the review. idk how people can't see this album is the epitome of just some great music! "I got the most game never said I had the best flows" this nigga just says some real ass shit in a cool ass way. Niggas forgot about the art of story telling. Album of the year based on legit good music.

  • Dom

    this album is good. minus the off beat startoffs and rhythms it gets 4/5

  • james

    atrocious review this cd smacks!! perfect soundtrack to play cards to , drink too dominoes , ride to. the guy that reviewed this is obviously out of his lane. the people Dom was shooting to reach, this is perfect for you cant critique something based on your personal taste but based on the purpose the art is trying to get across. a vegetarian cant critique a steakhouse.

  • Mario

    yall got to be damn near crazzzzzzzzzzy, show a pic of dude who reviewed this cd...this is player music meant for cats who like to party and mack bitches....Dom is the new era Too short...and if a nicka aint no playa or mack he have no business reviewing this cd...its like a gospel cat reviewing a ozzy osbourne cd....not valid....I give this Dom kennedy a solid 4.5 out of five..Cadillac music and the hood loves it....no nerds allowed

  • Anonymous

    Easily a 4 outta 5 for me. DX has been lost credibility with me as far as their "reviews" go so I'm not surprised at this bullshit rating. Dom has never been a "lyrical" rapper so why would you expect anything different here? He's always been the laid-back rapper but he's definitely found his sound. Dope production throughout this tape.

  • Mario

    I must admit that Dom Kennedy to me has always just been "okay". This is album has honestly changed my point of view on this guy. This a solid and polished album. The production on here is quite impressive. His repetitive flow is still intact with a little more "hmph!". Definitely a Westside vibe on this one that'll have you bobbing your head. I feel this is a better project than what Nipsey recently put out. 4 out of 5 stars.

  • All-Star

    Dom Kennedy is DUMB overrated. Glad DX called a spade a spade on this one. Dude's a swag rapper/fashion model. No fucking thanks.

  • bdavis

    fuck wit me and get smoked or fuck wit me and smoke too