Since twisting the title of Justin Timberlake’s 2006 album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, to create his remarkable 2009 debut mixtape, FutureStreet/DrugSounds, Dom Kennedy has established himself as part of California’s next generation of rappers. On his latest project, From the Westside, With Love, he continues to forge his identity by repping his coast and explaining more about his upbringing in the City of Angels.
Still relatively new to the game, Kennedy begins by reintroducing himself. On the low-key intro, “In Memory Of,” he breaks down his rap persona and loftily compares his style to hip-hop royalty. “I don’t know a nigga that could scribe like this,” he raps, “and you ain’t probably heard nothin’ since Tribe like this.” On the sparsely-produced “1997,” he recalls his first drink, his first love and, most importantly, the first time he realized he had skills on the mic.
Unfortunately, towards the middle of the mixtape, Kennedy gets a little too infatuated with the idea of catering to female listeners. He raps about hotel rendezvous on “The Hotels,” settling down with “the one” on “Love the Future,” and computer love on “Speaker Phone (Dial 143).” But it only results in a slight detour before the rookie returns to form on the soulful “Long Way Home,” where he boastfully explains how and why he’s been able to come such a long way in a short time. From the Westside, With Love helps Kennedy set himself up as a future ambassador of Cali. It’s more than enough to give him the right to throw up the W with love. —Chris Yuscavage