Where does Dom Kennedy’s latest album rank among the recent slew of West Coast releases? Very high actually.
Get Home Safely, Dom Kennedy’s second studio album and follow up to last year's Yellow Album, demonstrates Dom Kennedy’s unique ability to weave highly accessible stories into his lyrics without compromising intelligibility. Actually, it’s not a trait unique to him. Artists like Slick Rick, Snoop and Nas are known for this same technique. Of course, most rappers are adept storytellers, but artists like these put more emphasis on narrative and theme than most. Dom Kennedy seems to be angling for a similar style, even if he isn’t quite as adept at melding narrative and technically accomplished bars as the aforementioned.
Get Home Safely is clearly a “feel good” album. The first track, “Letz be Friends,” sets the project off with its endearing theme and communal hook. The distorted synth, sharp kicks and lulling horns immediately evoke the signature L.A., g-funk-esque sounds of the West Coast.
The rest of the record generally keeps a similar theme and sentiment, which is a feat considering the project is 16 tracks deep not including bonuses.
All of these songs are dope in their own right, but there are several highlights. “Intermission for Watts” is among the best songs on the album as far as pure production goes. What the instrumental lacks in a resounding drumline it makes up for in its atmospheric feel, lush vocals and steady bassline.
The project is full of this smooth production. Stand-out songs include both parts of “The 5 Year Theory,” “Pleeze,” “Erica Part 2,” “Still Cakkin,” “Dominic,” and the bonus track “AMNIG’z.” Again though, the album has great production all around.
Dom’s narrative style raps come together best on “AMNIG’Z,” “Dominic,” “Pleeze,” and “Letz be Friends.” It should be noted, even though Dom clearly angles for a narrative style, his bars themselves are unremarkable at best. You won’t find any clever wordplay, multisyllabic rhymes or entendres on this project. This lack of technical ability is passable mostly because Dom doesn't appear to make a conscious effort to deliver high caliber bars, which could be a turn-off for many listeners, especially considering today’s highly lyrical environment.
Dom’s flow is unfortunately static throughout the project. Dom’s lack of variation in flow and delivery is felt, especially around track 10 or so.
It should also be noted that while Get Home Safely has a fair number of party songs, there are zero club records or whip bangers here. This is a collection of chill-out music, appropriate for lounges, house parties or just a nighttime stroll or drive.
With that said, Get Home Safely is a very focused, almost atmospheric, body of work. Dom Kennedy is not the most technical rapper out there, nor is he the best narrative spitter. He is, however, capable of telling relatable, endearing tales from the hood. That in conjunction with the project’s smooth production makes for a great sonic experience. No this isn’t a hype album, but it’s full of good vibes and well worth checking out. Head to iTunes to do so.