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On the strength of his industrious grind, and matching personality, Dom Kennedy sold-out and locked-down the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA on January 25th. The Leimert Park MC delivered a blistering set, treating the Boston crowd with a heavy dose of leaned phrasing and rambling beats. As an underground favorite, propelled by a fierce representing of West Coast lifestyle and studio production, Kennedy has assembled an avid following. Most in the crowd could match him on tracks off 25th Hour, and everyone joined in for “My Type of Party.” Rarely does an artist’s bravado match the actual club vibe, but for a few hours Cambridge became LA to match Dom’s vision.
Lots of ladies lined up for hugs and photos? Check. Gentlemen properly attired in Society gear, looking Karmaloop fresh? Check. Dancing with some special someones, not too close, but riding a smooth groove together? Definitely check.
Dom’s appeal is succinctly captured on “Black Bentleys,” the standout track from his recently released album, Get Home Safely. He spoke lovingly of the song, and its refrain, “I just want the bad hoes, and I wanna reach the children” became an anthemic shout. This paradoxical feeling, wary of rap’s fast-living downfalls while clinging to the game’s trappings, was the energy that sustained Dom’s show, and both he and the audience reveled in its contradiction. As proof of this connection, the show ended as a metaphor for Dom’s music. Together, chanting the hook from “Pleeze,” the crowd offered a benediction: “Please make it home safe/ Just make it home safe.” Even when life’s a party, Dom Kennedy reminded that violence crouches just outside the door.