Four solo mixtapes in, Domo Genesis has shown he’s not merely a weed carrier for his more outgoing companions. His personality and style occupy the middle ground between Tyler’s outlandishness and Earl’s “too-young-to-be-too-old-for-this-shit” weariness. On Under the Influence 2, Domo continues to carve a space within the hip-hop ecosystem.
“Man, I planned this shit in my youth/It’s concentrated energy in all the shit that I do,” Domo asserts over Pusha T’s rapper-friendly “Alone In Vegas” instrumental on “Doms In Vegas.” Determination seeps through the songs. Of course, this is still a mixtape, so Domo balances his focused rhyming with freestyle riffs over a mix of borrowed instrumentals with production from SAP, ID Labs and in-house producer Left Brain.
Domo exhibits an ability to adapt to different tones and energy levels with varying degrees of success. He particularly thrives on boom-bap, jazzy beats. The basic, repetitive drums and bass on “X” allow Domo to let loose, dropping one straight verse. “Strolling’ out the hall of flames, with an alcoholic’s brain/For all the rain I ever bottled trine swallow pain/I’m heartless show my words like gauntlets through your hollow frame,” he rattles off.
He also transports us back to the early ’90s on producer SAP’s dynamic, jazz-accented record, “STRICTLY4MYNIGGAZ.” He offers insightful social commentary that would make 2Pac proud (STRICTLY4MYN.I.G.G.A.Z being 2Pac’s second album). Specifically, he discusses the ever-present tension between his skin color and society’s antagonism towards his identity. “I make mistakes and learn my lessons as well/But the police want me to rest in a cell/All cause I’m black I’m startin’ to question myself,” he reveals. Domo can’t go through the trials and tribulations of a normal person growing up because society treats him like a parents who shames their child for getting an A- instead of an A. Because of his skin color, he’s expected to conform to America’s skewed ideal of how a minority citizen should act.
While in that particular case Domo delivers compelling personal reflection, the contemplative “Follow Me” is too low-key to stand out, partly due to Left Brain’s forgettable production. The truisms he offers leaves the track feeling lifeless. “It’s now the crews, you gotta do your homework/You never do right without doing wrong first/Learn from your moves that don’t work,” he recommends in an uninspiring rhyme scheme.
If Domo’s thoughtful side might not consistently materialize exceptionally in his raps, his irreverent, woozy, shit-talking endeavors yield fruitful. Over D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar” on the aptly titled, “The Most Subtle Flex Ever,” he spiritedly boasts, “Man, I manage, although at times outlandish fella/I’m cooling with a bitch from Spanish novellas….” and, “I’m the voice of the kids like Nancy Cartwright.” A Simpsons reference is always welcome. Mac Miller and Domo kick it through a cloud of smoke on the stonerifically titled, “This Is 15 Bars I May Be Wrong I Gotta See.” Domo’s raspier, sharper voice plays well with Mac’s drooping-eyelids flow.
Overall, the productions operates in shades of grey. Rarely does a beat become too busy or abrasive. The instrumentals he chooses stick primarily to muted sparseness seen on Drake’s “Wu Tang-Forever” (“Rare Form Doms”) and the aforementioned “Alone in Vegas.” The rather consistent sonic qualities make the project coherent, which assists Domo in establishing who he is as a rapper even if the overall beat selection doesn’t shock and surprise. SAP, I.D. Labs and Left Brain are no a far cry from The Alchemist, who helped Domo make his best project, No Idols, but they provide him a solid springboard from which Domo jumps.
Domo doesn’t have a dominant presence that would outshine every rapper on a track like some of his peers such as Tyler, Earl, or Vince Staples, although he possesses quality lyrical skills. That’s not to say he’s dull or inconspicuous either. Part of his appeal lies in his clear pleasure and confidence in his stoned raps. There’s no sense that he’s being disingenuous or excessively hyperbolizing his personality, which is refreshing. Under the Influence 2 doesn’t push him to a higher tier of hip-hop, but the project serves as another commendable entry into Domo’s ongoing body of work.
3.5 out of 5
You can download Under The Influence 2 here.