Every week, we tell you about a new album we think you should spend time with. This week’s album is Domo Genesis' Genesis.
There was a great myth about Odd Future that their detractors tried to sell you in 2011, and have tried selling you since: all of their lyrics are offensive, and all of the members are the same in that offensiveness. That case was easy to make just by picking apart Tyler The Creator’s solo projects, and by listening to even the first single from 15-year-old Earl Sweatshirt’s debut mixtape. But to people who actually dove into the nine-person crew’s music without clutching pearls over a group of musically talented teenagers rapping offensively like teenagers are wont to do, you quickly realized that the characterization of their lyrics missed the mark. You don’t even need to mention Frank Ocean in this conversation; Syd and Matt Martians were making spaced out R&B as The Internet (and have since become arguably the best non-Frank part of Odd Future, even over Earl), Mike G was making post-Doom knotty rap, and Left Brain and Hodgy Beats were making super-charged versions of Neptunes songs.
Domo Genesis was often the guy everyone said was “underrated,” which meant that they liked his debut mixtape Rolling Papers, but that no one would ever claim he was the best in the crew. He wasn’t as energetic as Tyler, as gifted an MC as Earl, or as dark as Hodgy, and mostly, he spent all his bars in a cloud of weed smoke. He’s done three mixtapes since then, all of them increasing in dexterity, and all of them relying less on that teenage thing of making all your art about the drugs you’re taking.
Shockingly, Domo has only now released his debut LP. Genesis has been in the works since at least 2013. In the meantime, Odd Future has all but dissolved; any boost Domo could have had from being in the group has aged worse than “Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School.” And that’s a shame, because Genesis is, along with Earl Sweatshirt’s two albums, the strongest rap-centric Odd Future solo albums. The beats are lush and jazzy, the bars are constructed like a finger trap, and Domo has grown from a rapper who used to mask his self-reflection in weed talk, and who can now do a song like “Questions,” where he openly asks himself if he regrets dropping out of college, and what he actually wants out of his rap career.
Recorded mostly in the bowels of Mac Miller’s L.A. basement—where basically every rap album you love out of L.A. has been recorded in the last three years—the centerpiece of Genesis is “One Below,” a song that opens with a spoken word intro from Domo’s mom that will have you in your feelings, before he raps about being a lost teenager until he found music to free his mind. Domo’s lyrics throughout Genesis are about the power of music to make a lost kid find his people and find his purpose, which you could extend to the point of Odd Future posse writ large.
Domo’s lyrical growth is the highlight here, but like his past projects, the guy has exquisite taste in collaborators. “Go (Gas)” features a doofy Wiz Khalifa verse, a hook from Tyler, and a hilarious verse from Juicy J where it sounds like he’s trying to make a bus, so he’s rapping twice as fast as everyone else on the tambourine-heavy beat. When Mac Miller comes in on the hook of “Coming Back,” it’s one of the first times in modern history where anyone could say “All right! Mac Miller!” And Anderson Paak does a gooey Rap&B verse and the hook on “Dapper,” continuing his 2016 winning streak.
Genesis is going to get buried except amongst the still devoted OF kids, and that’s a shame. Genesis is one of this year’s most complete rap LPs, a front-to-back achievement, and an album that actually cements Domo’s most underrated in OF status. But listening to Genesis, you get the sense that’s ok with Domo. He’s not here to be the star; he’s just using music to dissect how he really feels.
Andrew Winistorfer is VMP’s Classics & Country Director, and a writer and editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need In Your Collection and The Best Record Stores In The United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 20 VMP releases, and co-produced the VMP Anthologies The Story of Philadelphia International Records, The Story of Quincy Jones, The Story of Impulse and the VMP Classics release of Nat Turner Rebellion's Laugh to Keep From Crying, and executive produced the VMP Anthology The Story of Vanguard. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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