Hustling For Fame And Fortune: Dominique Young Unique Interviewed

After meeting Dominique Young Unique, Petra Davis decides that she isn't worried about her one little bit - she has all the tools required for total domination

"YO, TELL THE WORLD I’M NOT WITH THE FUCKIN’ YO MAJESTY," bellows Dominique Young Unique. One would imagine that the dancefloor domination of EP tracks ‘Hot Girl’ and ‘Show My Ass’ on both sides of the pond might satisfy the appetite of Florida’s freshest young export, but apparently the common association of her ebullient electro rhyme with the work of fellow Tampans and bible-quoting genius queers Yo Majesty is starting to grate a little. Industry scuttlebutt has it that Shaunda K of Yo Majesty saw Dominique perform and introduced her to David Alexander of Artjam Records, but Dominique is insistent that this is not the case.

"No, for real, she didn’t help me," she insists. "My first performance was at Bell Wither Elementary School. I was 15. I’m by myself, I’m the only one that can do it the way I do."

Amen to that. The schoolyard association is appropriate, given the tongue-twisting, wide-eyed style that comes naturally to Dominique. The irresistible bounciness of ‘Show My Ass’ or ‘Hot Girl’ is a physical thing: teenage muscle and will in effect, along with some serious ingenuity; but though Dominique is happy to prop her style and celebrate how it separates her from other girl rhymers ("I’m Unique, right?") she is at pains to avoid being seen as some schoolgirl fly-by-night. She cites Trina, 2pac and Jadakiss as her influences, and is keen to correct the common view of her as an underage rudegyal. "I’M NOT 17, I JUST TURNED 19 YEARS OF AGE," she points out,once again at top volume. Given the lyrics of tracks such as ‘Pussy Poppin’, it’s just as well, though at recent shows the beer and sweat dripping down the walls were joined by sizeable pools of drool on the floor. Clearly her mix of knowing sexuality and youthful defiance is pressing buttons.

I’m not worried about her, though. She’s resilient, smart and genuinely focused on her skills, having started rhyming at 11. "I was immature when I started out," she understates, "but I was writing about what was happening around me. When I grew older I started seeing things better."

It wasn’t only talent that separated Dominique from her peers at that age. Her family lived in Robles Park, a tough neighbourhood even by Floridian standards, and what was happening around the eleven year old wasn’t pretty: homelessness, hustling, poverty and difficulty.

"It just makes me do this hard, to keep my family together," she says of her early life. "We doing good now, we on our feet. I’ma make sure we never fall again no matter what, if it’s my last."

For sure, the music looks forward, not back: the EP, Dominique, and the mixtape, Domination, both have a tone of defiance and determination behind the exuberance. Tracks such as ‘CEO Girl’ and ‘Music For Millions’ set out her ambitions in delicious detail, and when I ask her what the hustle means for her now, she fixes me with a look and says, "Fortune and fame. And that’s all."

The Domination mixtape is available here.

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