LA Stereo recently caught up with Dom Kennedy to discuss his latest project The Yellow Album. During the interview, the west coast emcee discussed how Nas’s 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead inspired his first tattoo, which reads “In Loving Memory of Hip Hop.” He explain that tat came out his struggle to find an identity as artist at the beginning of his career in 2008.

“My first tattoo I got right here [on my left wrist] and it says ‘In Loving Memory of Hip Hop.’ It was inspired by Nas’s album Hip Hop is Dead,” he said. “It just kind of struck me and I made it my own. 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 and shit, 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 nigga’s flow, this and that, even my shit, too. At a certain point, I was definitely original with it, but it was definitely like west coast influenced. The Yellow Album was like, ‘Nigga, we not doing none of that.'”

Dom went on to discuss his approach to his music on his latest project. He said that while the project doesn’t always find him sticking to the rapping, he wanted to take his brand of Hip Hop in a different and unique direction.

“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,” he said. “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. 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?”

Check out the full interview below.

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