Dominant G is one of the greatest and smoothest rhymers the UK has produced to date. Who is he you ask? Well he has been around a bit more than you would think. In advance of his debut solo LP britishhiphop.co.uk took the time to speak to him and find out what he is under…
OK, can you first introduce yourself and let the readers know a bit about where you are coming from?
Well my name is Dom G aka Dominant aka da cerebralist and I’m all about the art form that’s my passion.
Where in London were you born and where did you grow up?
I’m from south London born and raised.
So, you have always been from South London, is there much going on there now? Who are the artists in your local you really rate?
Well like I said I’ve always lived in south London and there is a lot of talent in London in general but if I had to narrow it down I’m feeling Geebag, Travis Blaque, unique, Big P, David J, Genesis Elijah, Opus, Man Friday, and Versatyle to name a few.
Can you break down some of what has been happening Hip Hop wise in South London and the surrounding areas over the last few years? What I mean is, who were the local heads who have been performing, putting on shows and setting up pirate radio stations?
Well to be honest I’m not really into who’s from this part of London or that part of London to me its just London. The scene has grown into a do it yourself culture. The youth are fed up of waiting and looking towards the corporate structure for acceptance and help so they are doing their own thing getting on with it and this is how grime music was born. These cats have been putting on their own shows and doing their own thing. As for pirates stations this has always been apart of the culture its our way of not waiting for the corporate world to tell us what to listen to we listen to what we want. or give those pirates stations a licence until then the underground will keep listening to what they want!
Do you ever hang out with the more established acts down there? Is there a family atmosphere?
I wouldn’t say that there is a family atmosphere I think you either know someone or you don’t. I’m familiar with a lot of the artists, we all know of each other but I wouldn’t say that I hang out with them I think everyone is busy doing their own thing.
OK, so you go back a bit and we all know that Brixton was one of the centres of early Hip Hop. What can you remember from those early days?
Well even though I grew up in South London I actually got my first taste of Hip Hop from my cousin Micheal Gessey who I used to go and stay with throughout the summer. He lived in Willesden Green and it was here where I saw the graffiti, break dancing, turntablism, rapping and beat boxing, the five pillars of Hip Hop culture not just rapping, I was schooled in North West London to be honest!
So when did you start actually making Hip Hop? Who influenced you and made you think, yeah I can do this?
I got into Hop Hop from artists like Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, 3rdBass and Public Enemy. But when it comes to lyrics for me it has to be Rakim his depth, his deepness to me is second to none. He paved the way for Rap to be taken seriously by the masses before Rakim people thought rap was just about parties and having a good time, to put it blunt he put the maths into rap period!
When did you hook up with Drew and form Psychic Phenomena?
I met drew in college back in 91, he was in a record shop and I saw that he was looking at the Hip Hop section so I nodded him and the rest is history really.
Was this your first crew?
No I was in a crew called the Forward Movement that was comprised of Shortman, DJ Side FX and me.
And you were performing at the Borderline and other open mics. How did you build to getting up on stage and how did you get on? I remember the Scientists Of Sound filling that little stage and going mental, good times…
That’s real they were good times I had a passion for it. I was not new to the stage and I had a close net of people, at the time, who would pull me up in a heart beat if I didn’t do my best. To be honest its just practice no one can teach you that, no one taught me how to rap, I taught my self.
Then you hooked up with Low Life for the Whole Circumference EP. Low Life was re-launching back in 97, so how did it feel to come out at that time?
It felt great I was one of the first people to come out on Low Life. Those were some of the best times of my life!
Was there a concept behind that EP? Can you tell us a bit about each / some of the tracks, you know, what they are about, what effects, moods or messages you were trying to create/pass on?
Like the title suggests “The whole circumference” was me trying to define the world as I saw it, I wasn’t happy with just talking about London I’m still not. But most of all, I was all about skills, to me this was and still is a paramount for an mc to have skills this was what “inter cranial pressure” feat David J was all about, to this day I feel that lyrically it is a head of its time. Then you had “Urban Audio” I love that joint. I had so much fun doing it (laugh) I miss those days…
The EP was a classic, but was slept on. How did you feel about it?
I don’t think it was slept on at all I mean every single Hip Hop station was playing it I remember Westwood spinning it for ages and we sold out every single copy that was pressed, definitely not slept on in my view.
What happened to David J? He was a quality rhymer…
I’ll be honest, to me he is one of the best Rappers I have ever heard in my life, I think he is a master of his craft! He’s still doing his thing.
Then you went underground for a while. And it was a few years before you came out with the Slipstream track. What were the reasons for this?
Well we focussed our attention on setting up a recording studio the research and planning took a little while.
OK, then another long wait. What have you been up to since then? There have been a few 12” releases haven’t there… Da Heat was a heavy track…
Thanx man I’m glad you liked it. After the Slip Stream we dropped Psychic Phenom and Straight Spittin.Then I dropped my solo single “Feelin Me” and on the flip we had Da Heat and You don’t know.Then I dropped another single “Microphone Phenomenal” produced by keith Lawrence. Then I Did I did a couple of features with the likes of Masta Ace, The Planets, Unsung Heroes and Travis Blaque. I currently feature on two tracks of Travis Blaque’s forthcoming album, The many Facets of Travis Blaque, due out this year on Unique Records in Germany.
Right, now the main topic that we are here to chat about. You are about to release your debut solo LP, which is entitled Air. Do your promo bit for it. Tell us about the tracks, the vibes, the thoughts you are trying to express, the collaborations etc…
Well I have created, I think, a feel good vibe on this album. There are different genres of music that play a part as well as interesting and funny subject matters. I want people to remember that life is not all doom and gloom, I have brought back that vibe to a new an improved style of DOM G Hip Hop. It’s a new thing for me, with some of the tracks that I have done for this album, but I think it will be well received. There are tracks such as Air and Reflections that have a rare groove feel for those of you who remember and an up beat and fun side where Holding it Down and La La Land come into play. You have features from KISS 100 FM DJ Big Ted, Zion I and Nomadic P, as well as production from DJ Excalibah, Apollo and ID 4 Windz (Science of Life) to name but a few. It’s a nice mixture and I am sure that it will be an essential cd in your stereos. So go and support! Its out June 5th on Grinnin Records. And available from Deal Real records, MSN Records www.myspace.com/dominantg and all good record shops.
Who are your favourite artists you have worked with and what have you learned from them?
I’ve worked with Zion-I and I learned that Hip Hop isn’t just about reppin your ends it’s about reaching out and letting the world hear what you have to say. I’ve worked with Nomadic P, I think what I’ve learned from him is that you should never give up what you love doing! I’ve worked with Travis Blaque and he reinstalled the concept of thinking outside the box and taking it international to people who are lovers of the music, and avoid the bs and politics of the game. Just reach out to people regardless of race, colour and creed! That’s what I’m all about, reaching out!!
Who are the UK artists you listen to and admire and perhaps would like to collaborate with in the future?
I’m feeling a lot of the new artists like Mic Assassin, Stig, and Saint because these guys have that raw energy and they represent that whole open mic battle tip that I grew up on. Their not just talking about the same ole same ole there being creative and taking it back to what this Hip Hop culture is about which is Peace, Love, Unity and having fun! To me that is what this is all about not just chatting about how shit our living conditions are. That’s not to say we shouldn’t cover these topics, we should but we are entitled to enjoy life too.
Are there any other producers or MCs in your crew to look out for?
Look out for Travis Blaque’s solo album that will be dropping real soon, it should be nice, also Chris Smoove he’s dropping some heat soon, my man Geebag and Nomadic P who will dropping some real Hip Hop like he always does!!
What are your thoughts about the state of UK hip hop? What do you make of all the Grime and just in general the new sound which is quite removed from some of the music you make?
I think Hip Hop has had a tough time breaking into the mainstream in the UK, but in saying that, it has done quite well with the likes of Estelle, who I consider has a real Hip Hop lady, and we don’t have a lot of them at her level, she’s really helping to keep Hip Hop in the public eye. Kano who everyone would classify as a grime artist but first and foremost he makes music and appeals to a very broad audience, that can only help the game.
I feel that rap music has many different angles. There are those people like myself who live and grew up in council estates but don’t feel the need to glorify our living conditions in our songs, I’d rather rhyme about how we can improve our surroundings not perpetuate and glorify it I’m not trying to rep that at all.
I think the state of Hip Hop in general has shifted from skills to drugs, guns and bills, which is apart of life but we need balance. Right now Hip Hop is imbalanced, they just want to play death death death, which is reality, but so is Life! Growth and expansion progress these things are important and vital for our children to aspire towards! No one is thinking about our younger generation who copy what they hear. For me it’s all about balance, personally I want to hear more tracks with skills period! I would like to hear the creativity and delivery of the art. Sometimes its as though the passion is no longer evident and that to me is a real shame.
I ask everyone about politics, because I think it is important that we have knowledge of what is going on, but occasionally heads decline to answer. I guess they don’t want to upset anyone. Do you have anything to say on that?
I think every one should know or familiarise themselves with politics and what’s going on in within their country. They pass laws every day on Health, Education and Immigration, that has an affect on us all, which is why it is essential for us to know about it.
Any issues you think people need to open their eyes too?
I think that some of the issues that people need to keep focussed on are education, health and the increase of crime that we are all facing today with our communities.
If you could change something about society, what would it be and why?
I think the cost of living is way to high in the UK and we still don’t see where our money goes.
How do you view the Internet? Do you think it is a useful promotional tool and a good way of getting out there and breaking the strangle hold the major labels have on the marketplace, or are there too many idiots too willing to spout a load of rubbish with no control over them?
I think the Internet is a great way for people to connect globally and it gives us more freedom of expression then any other medium in the world.
You have the www.myspace.com/dominantg website. What can people expect when they arrive there and what plans do you have to expand or improve it?
I think myspace.com is great and it’s an amazing way to connect with other people from all walks of life from all over the world. Its so addictive. You can expect New material and an updates with what’s going on with DOM G.
Where can people pick up your stuff?
They will be able to pick it up in MSN Records Camden, Deal Real Records in Carnaby St and all good record shops.
How do you feel you are positioned within the marketplace and is that through your wishes or with different circumstances, would you do it differently?
I think you would have to ask those who listen and enjoy my music, I don’t think that’s a question to ask the artist its your fans that position you within the market.
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
Well I’ve already started work on the next album and I’m shifting through beats. I’m doing a European tour with Travis Blaque, I am also in the middle of shooting my video for one of the tracks of the album, so yeah I’m keeping busy!
What are your longer term plans?
To eat loads of fish and chips haha!! I’m jus playing, just to keep it moving really.
What do you do when you are not doing Hip Hop then?
Well I like going to the cinema I’m an avid film buff and a big fan of Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Eat more fish and chips haha well I hope everyone likes the album.
Is there anyone else you would like to mention?
Yeah I’d like to give a shout out to Andrew Asamoah, Travis Blaque, Nomadic Poet, Geebag, Keith Lawrence, Tino & Henry @ Unique Records, Angharad @ A Funk, Chris Smoove, Peepin Tom, Apollo, Big Ted & Shortee Blitz, DJ Greenpeace, DJ Excalibah, LG, Unsung Heroes man The list is endless so I’ll leave it there.
Finally, what are your favourite crisps?
Any Cheesy Puffs or Cheese and Onion Walkers Crisps.
Thank you for your time.
And thank you for this interview man have a good one.
The Album “Air” is out June the 5th on Grinnin Records.