Dom Kennedy will likely never sign a major record deal. That might sound depressing for aspiring rappers, but the wordsmith from the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles is so good at his craft he doesn’t need one. In fact, he’s turned down offers from the big record companies to remain independent and it’s working out just fine for the man who was born Dominic Ross Hunn.

In the great hip-hop tradition, Kennedy made his name as a mixtape master, putting out a total of nine since 2008, all of which have helped build on reputation. What you hear on these recordings, along with his independently produced albums, is a representation of the gritty streets of L.A. mixed with that West Coast party vibe that SoCal is known for. It captures time and place, something that often gets lost once musicians go corporate. For instance, “My Type of Party” was released six years ago but the flow still feels fresh and makes you miss classic Kanye West tracks.

The 34-year-old rapper is not only a critical underground darling, but also a favorite of other rappers as evidenced by the amount of guest verses he spits with collaborators including Kendrick Lamar, Murs, Nipsey Hussle, Ty Dolla $ign and DJ Quik among others. This is what independent hip hop is all about.

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