Like many other fans I was super excited to hear the Leimert Park legend’s new LP. Dom Kennedy was returning to drop another project and it was only a matter of time before all my friends were talking about it. I’ve sat with the album and even contemplated whether or not I was gonna even write this review. It’s been well over a year since Dom dropped his somewhat underwhelming third studio album By Dom Kennedy last June. It wasn’t that the project was bad. It just didn’t move me quite like his 2013 release “Get Home Safely”.
Dom spent most of 2016 in silence with a few features here and there, which only fueled the growing speculation that he just didn’t have it anymore and that he was done. But on records such as “96 Cris,” Dom makes it seem like it was all planned that way.
“Wonder why rap at a standstill/We ain’t dropped in a minute yeah/But that is not a coincidence”
Los Angeles is Not for Sale Vol. 1 may not be everything we’ve been hoping for but it’s for true Dom Kennedy fans. It’s a reminder that although Dom may have lost his way, he still has a map and knows how to use it. The album consists of a nostalgic sound that can often remind the listener of some of Dom’s best projects. For instance, “96 Cris“ sounds very similar to “Black Bentley’s“ production wise.
The dynamic punch of “California” and “The 76” are two examples of where Dom’s light shines brightest — breezy beats that burn slow like a Dutch with cool and amusing wordplay laced on top of them.
“California“ is probably one the hardest cuts on the album with its vintage Los Angeles production that gives Dom a spark of life that we haven’t experienced in years. He opens:
“Y’all outta town niggas just don’t understand/We aint got the same mindset or same plan/ I done ran with my mans instead of running to the man/Two shows back to back got paid 50 grand.”
“96 Cris” and “Dominic Pt. 2” remind us of that classic Dom Kennedy feel right out of his vault. And despite the two records have been out for months now, they still remain as two of the album’s strongest cuts.
While L.A. is Not for Sale certainly excels at times, there are some tracks where Dom simply leaves more to be desired. It’s kinda like getting put on to a good meal that just wasn’t seasoned well. Dom leaves too much meat on the bone so to speak.
Here’s why I really have a problem with the album: lackluster rhyme schemes and too many off-beat ramblings left me feeling disconnected from the tracks. It really weighs on the entire flow of the project. We need Dom to rap the way he did on The Yellow Album and Get Home Safely.
The production and themes are what Dom Kennedy fans are accustomed to but there’s still a lot missing in his flow and a lack of creativity in his bars. I got the feeling on some of these tracks that Dom just wanted to finish the record and get it out. The features on the album are mostly forgettable which continues to be a trend in recent Dom projects and needs to stop, but the record “U Got It Like That” features a decent verse from Nike G4.
Overall the album is a let-down in only a small number of ways and there honestly isn’t enough quality to justify a 15 song tracklist. But the good outweighs the bad on this album (if you’re a real Dom Kennedy fan) and it seems he’s on his way back to the Dom we know and love — it’s only a matter of time.
If you need more proof of how serious Dom can get, take a listen to his Half-A-Mil EP with Hit-Boy. That should be enough evidence to support the fact that Dom is indeed back, but it might take another project or two for him to truly get back to form.