Odd Future's Domo Genesis: Still Smoking, But No Longer A Stoner Rapper
There were no popped bottles for Domo Genesis‘ 25th birthday—he quit drinking a year ago. The Odd Future affiliate, whose real name is Dominique Cole, spent March 9th in the studio, putting the final touches on his debut album, Genesis. That’s commitment.
Even in social media, Domo Genesis embraces a “can do” attitude that betrays his stoner rap origins. His Twitter is equal parts promotional and inspirational. “get your work done before you turn up #choregang,” he urges. Kind of like the eat-veggies-so-you-can-get-to-dessert mentality.
Wish I could uberHelicopter to the crib.
— Suavecito. (@DamierGenesis) April 7, 2016
Up until this point, Domo Genesis’ musical career has mainly unfolded outside of the limelight. While music giants like Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Frank Ocean have all launched successful careers through the Odd Future imprint, other acts like Hodgy Beats, Mike G, and, yes, Domo Genesis haven’t received quite as much media attention. But that’s going to change. Genesis is jam-packed with production value, boasting big budget features like Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, and rising star Anderson .Paak. Even the music video for its lead single, “DAPPER,” puts in work, reuniting the collective as they coast around a moody roller skating rink.
Compared to his earlier mixtapes, Genesis offers something more musically grounded. Neither the psychedelic guitar loops of No Idols nor the laptop melodies of Rolling Papers are anywhere to be found here. Instead, Genesis draws its inspiration from the warped wax of Motown. Soulful keyboards buoy many of Genesis‘ tracks, recalling Domo’s musical upbringing while still leaving enough breathing room for his hypnotic cadence to take hold. At long last, the chores might be paying off.
We caught up with Domo Genesis at Milk Studios to learn more about #choregang, Genesis‘ inspiration, and the thrill of taking dabs.
You’ve had a lot of mixtapes, a lot of collaborative projects, but this is your first real studio album. Did you approach this whole project differently?
I would say before I got into it, I studied a little more. I didn’t go in blind without knowing what I wanted to do. I knew exactly what I wanted to get across, exactly what I wanted to say, and I took the time to study what I really loved so that I could show a different part of my personality this time around. That’s how I got excited when I heard the oldies [on the radio] because I grew up in a house with my grandmother and all we listened to was soul oldies.
So, to correctly convey whom I was, I was going to have to both step my rhymes up and bring the sound that got me into music with my new album. I don’t think it’s too much of a venture off of what I do, because I was always rapping. But in terms of production, I was like, alright, I’mma go back to my roots with the production, and that’s where it stems from.
In your own words, what is #choregang?
#choregang is this movement I started for the soccer moms and the youth. It’s pretty much cleaning up after yourself. It’s not just limited to cleaning up after yourself in terms of, y’know, sweeping and mopping. It means clean up after yourself in terms of living. Clean your act up. Become a model citizen. Be a good person in your community. Do something important. That’s what #choregang is.
Did the hashtag come about with the album?
It came during the culmination of getting ready to put out the album—right before when we were locking in on that. It was like a movement, with “Keep Working Young Man” and #choregang meshing perfectly into the album.
Is there a central theme that you saw for the album?
There was a couple of years of my life where I just felt lost. I felt like I was on a train and didn’t know what the destination was. I was just enjoying the ride, y’know? Being a part of [Odd Future], but faceless as an individual. I wasn’t comfortable with that because I have a personal story. I have things that have transpired in my life. It’s cool to express myself on that level. So the overall theme of the album is that I got so lost that I found myself. I got to the point where I didn’t know what I was doing or know where I was going, and getting that far made me realize whom I was and what I was doing it for. And this album you can hear it’s all there. It’s for my fans, it’s for myself. It’s me reminding myself that I’m here for a reason.
“I’m here as a piece of Odd Future that’s from the hood, that was from the hard part, that’s gonna show that you can make it out of those situations and do something good with it.”
I know you’re 25, and I’m near that age too. So that whole idea of figuring out your path is super relatable to me.
A lot of people think that when you’re this age, you should know what you’ll be doing already. The truth is nobody does. There are people our age and older than us who are like, “What is my purpose here?” I know my purpose. I can see that my purpose is to inspire people. I was put here to show people a different light, to show them where I’m from, that this is possible.
It took me being in this group and seeing what was going on, perceiving that world, and then seeing my friends outside of the group, to show that I’m not just here as a piece of Odd Future. I’m here as a piece of Odd Future that’s from the hood, that was from the hard part, that’s gonna show that you can make it out of those situations and do something good with it. Now that the ball is rolling and the album’s out, I’m just ready to sit back and enjoy the ride. I don’t wanna put out my next project until I’ve been through some more things, until I’ve experienced life.
So do you see music as your purpose? There’s a conversation between A$AP Rocky and Tyler the Creator where they were talking about hip-hop as an avenue to get to the spotlight, and then from there you can branch out into other things.
Yeah, I don’t want to just be a rapper forever. I want to use this as a platform to become something relevant. I’m put here to inspire, whether it be [through] music or anything [else] creative. I’m not just going to limit myself to music.
First and foremost you have to make a name for yourself; no one is going to deal with you if you’re a nobody. You have to make a name for yourself, you have to stand on your own two [feet], and then when you get to that point everything else is at your grasp. You’re able to throw a little weight around. So I have a whole lot of things I want to do. I want to host comedy shows. I want to push culture, and in order to do that you have to have a name.
“I don’t like to work with people that are just in it for the music or for the good look.”
A lot of the artists you collaborated with on the album come from different places. There’s Jersey represented, there’s Pittsburgh. Why did you decide to work with these particular people?
A lot of those people are my good friends. I don’t really like to work with people unless there’s common ground. Somewhere that we can be levelheaded. I don’t like to work with people that are just in it for the music or for the good look. If they’re down to make something good, and they’re down to do something out of the love of their heart, and it isn’t for a positive gain, then I’m with it.
Like I didn’t know Kendra Foster, but she heard my whole project before she got on it, and she was like “This is beautiful, I want to make sure this is amazing—what can I do to help?” She was nominated for 3 Grammys, she doesn’t have to do anything with my album, but she heard it and liked it and wanted to contribute to it. And that’s what made me think, “Yeah, you have a spot there anytime you want.”
The music video for “DAPPER” came out last week. It looked super fun.
That’s all it was. Straight-up fun. There was no fake smiles, none of that. Super good time. You can’t have a bad time on skates, though.
What was that motorized recliner like?
It was part of the treatment. When I walked in they had it set up and they were like, “Yeah, get in there and give it a go.” And I was like skrrrt—got gassed in that.
I feel like I’d fall asleep in there.
Nah, it was way too loud and too shaky.
2009 Domo vs. 2016 Domo. What has changed?
Growing up is weird. It’s funny how the internet or people in general try to keep you in a box. They want you be that 2009 person. They want you to be that off-the-wall person. But that’s not realistic. It’s impossible for somebody to be that.
You have to change. If you don’t change, you stagnate. I just got older. I got wiser. My vision became a little more clear. I understand and I perceive things better. [Before,] I would just shut things out that I didn’t like. There are things that I don’t agree with at all but I understand why other people do it, and I’ve never had that before. It’s weird going from that teenaged boy angst and just being straight “fuck everything,” to caring. I’m walking in the store and the guy is giving me what I paid for, and I’m like, “Yo, I hope you have a nice day and be safe,” because I actually care.
We were just talking about how you’re no longer boxed into stoner rap. That being said, how do you feeling about dabs?
You mean taking dabs or like (does dance move)?
I like taking dabs a lot. I’m not just a stoner rapper no more, but the pace of weed that I smoke has not slowed down. It’s just part of the creative process and I’ve accepted that as part of my life at this point.
How do you prefer to smoke?
I was smoking papers at first, but then I got introduced to Backwoods [cigars] and they ruined my life because I can’t smoke anything else. But I’ll take a dab here and there. I can’t do it all day, like those dudes that say “I don’t even smoke weed anymore, I just do dabs.” Way too intense.
Stay tuned to Milk for more inspiring young artists.
Images taken exclusively for Milk by Carlos Santolalla.