Earlier this year I had the pleasure of catching Ohio emcee Dominique Larue performing at a show with West Coast legends Blackalicious. I approached her afterwards to praise her performance and cop her cd with J. Rawls entitled,”Almost There”which ended up being one of my favorite albums from 2016. A month later I reached out to Dominique for a interview to get to know about an emcee who I feel is going to be the future of Hip-Hop.
Tell me what it’s like in the everyday life of Dominique Larue?
Dominique Larue: Working, being a mom, working on music. Ya know,curating projects, that’s pretty much like mostly (it). Shows that come through. I broke my ankle so I haven’t been to the gym lately….
How did that injury happen or do you even want to talk about it…
Dominique Larue: Oh no, yea it was a great night but basically I rolled it (ankle). I stepped out of the van and I… so the first step I rolled it then hit the ground, the ankle actually hit the ground. So I don’t know if it happened when it rolled or hit the ground but either way it was broke. I was definitely avoiding going to the hospital, I was thinking maybe if I could just hold my leg up for a while you know, uh maybe it would feel better but nah. So,I went to the hospital did the X-rays and they came back and told me it was broke so… and I’ve been in a boot for about 3 weeks now.
Off camera you told me a little about Columbus,Ohio. Is this where you were born and raised?
Dominique Larue: Yes.
So off camera you were talking about this particular neighborhood we’re in. Can you describe Columbus overall?
Dominique Larue: Right now we are in O town East. We are at the Upper Cup, black owned business. I definitely love this place. I come here as often as I can. But Ovtown East, they’re gentrifying the area and it used to be the hood. Like straight up hood, ya know what I’m saying? So now you got a lot of hipsters out here, a lot of places where there used to be abandoned buildings or trap houses whatever, they’re building all kinds of stuff. O town East is definitely like a historic neighborhood especially for black people in Columbus. Columbus is a cool city ya know? Uhm, I know they definitely promote a lot of diversity here but in my opinion diversity is more so on paper. This other neighborhood called the Short North which basically used to be the hood here and now it’s the same thing, gentrification. Like it’s definitely more white people, like straight up. They done took over everything, it’s crazy. They still try to give it that inner city feel but it’s not what it used to be obviously. But you know it is what it is. A lot of cities across the country is dealing with gentrification, so that’s just the name of the game right now.
So how did you get into M.C.’ing?
Dominique Larue: Uhm, let’s see…it really started with like just a phone call. I was in the 2nd grade,me and my friend would always talk on the phone for like hours and one night it was her idea. She was like,”Yo we should put together a rap song”. So I was like,”ok” so she gave me my first rap name which was “D-Money ” and we wrote this rap on the phone and ever since then I just kept rappin’. I think I was 7.
Who are some of your influences growing up?
Dominique Larue: Growing up, Tribe, Busta Rhymes, Redman,Method Man, Ghostface…uhm Lauryn Hill, Fugees, uh Left Eye.
Rest in peace.
Dominique Larue: Yes, rest in peace…uh, Missy Elliott. It’s quite a few…Nas, Jay, A.Z. ,Big Pun, Big L….
Some of the greats that aren’t with us right now.
Dominique Larue: Yep,yep,yep… Like between A.Z., Big L, & Big Pun… like they definitely inspired a lot of my lyricism. I used to be like,”yo! If I can do better than those guys then I’m right where I need to be”. The way I used to write my rhymes or whatever it was just crazy, you know what I’m saying? The technicality of it…insane or whatever but yea those are like the majority of my influences coming up.
How would you describe your style?
Dominique Larue: Oh! Also,real quick…Outkast.
Can’t forget Outkast…
Dominique Larue: Actually 3 Stacks is my favorite rapper…so why would I even, but ya know it is what it is. My style,uhm….ya know what? I don’t know… I don’t know. Like I for real feel like I can rap to any beat. I’m a chameleon, so to me I’ll leave that up to the listener. Because I’ve been compared to every female rapper you can think of. Any woman that’s rapped, trust me I’ve been compared to her. So I’ll leave that up to the listener for real.
So what’s your writing process? Do you have to get the beat or are you constantly writing without the beat?
Dominique Larue: Oh, I definitely have to write with the beat. I mean I can jot down ideas if I don’t have a beat. You know I might write down a couple of lines, but me writing without the beat is a waste of my time. Like I tried to do that when I was young coming up, that’s when I realized this is ridiculous. As far as writing period, there is no process. I don’t have to dim lights, I don’t have to have water and a candle and all that stuff no. What I’ll do is, the feeling will just hit me and I’m writing right away out of nowhere. Anybody that knows me, I’ll just start rapping out of nowhere. But it’s whatever the feeling hits me. Wherever whenever it doesn’t matter. Like I’ll put on my earbuds, start listening to beats and start thinking of stuff like..it don’t matter. There is no rhyme or reason, I don’t have to set moods I just write.
Who are some the artists and producers you’ve worked with in the past?
Dominique Larue: Uhm, the first album I did,”From Ohio with Love“, like I had production from Kev Brown, illmind, uh…what’s my dudes name from North Carolina?
Dominique Larue: No, he did an album with Big Pooh…I can’t think of his name. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. But he had production on there too. Uh, (J) Rawls had production on there. I worked with a lot of overseas producers. My homie D Will from Kansas City, Maja7th in Indianapolis and recently I worked with my manager Soop, Tha Audio Unit. Those are producers I’ve been working with lately. Been crafting a new sound for me lately,I’ve always dibbled and dabbled into different sounds or whatever but know it’s like full fledged into different sounds. Also I’m working with a new producer here named SATELE, the other one Billionaire Boy Scout he’s out of Chicago. So yea like… speaking of Chicago I’ve worked with Rashid Hadee, Slot A, my homie Ant Man Wonder. In Philadelphia, Ill Mill …so yea I’ve worked with quite a few producers over the years.
Anybody you’re looking forward to working with or want to work with?
Dominique Larue: For real, for real like my homie Rashaad here. Like we been talking, I’ve been knowing Rashaad as long as I’ve been out here rapping so definitely over 10 years and every time we get together we always talk about working, working we gotta work. And I’ve been busy doing stuff I want to get out of the way before we actually put in the work together but he’s somebody that I’m definitely looking forward to working with.
Dominique Larue: If you’re talking about in terms of commercially speaking, then yea. But we out here. It’s a lot us. I mean Lyric Jones & Rah Digga just went on tour together the “Ski Mask Way” Tour. There’s a lot of women out here that are dope that rap. I mean Eternia still raps, you got Invincible….
Back in the day it just seemed like you didn’t have to dig to find them so much.
Dominique Larue: That’s fair, that’s why I say commercially speaking. I think a lot of it changed because… I know money has a lot to do with it too. Because when you’re a label and you are dealing with a woman, there’s a lot more money that goes into it. Like with look, ya know preparation uh I think that a lot of the time labels don’t know what to do with women. There are a lot of women, I think Angel Haze if I’m not mistaken I wanna say she had a major deal too but I’m not really sure like what happened with that. But it just… I think a lot of people have this stigma too that woman aren’t good at rapping. I’ve been told to my face like,”I don’t wanna hear you rap because you’re a woman so I know you’re trash”.
Dominique Larue: So I rapped, so he basically apologized to me the rest of the night (laughs) you know what I’m saying? So it is what it is so like I say you have that stigma there…so I mean Sean Price even said “I don’t like female rappers”. Ya know what I mean? That ain’t never made me no never mind. But he did name some that he liked, but overall like they trash ya know what I mean? So I think that stigma comes in to play as well. You know you like at what’s her name that T.I. signed?
Dominique Larue: Iggy yea,she had the song and everyone knows she Australian like how she rap with a country accent. Ya know she was like a facade, like they just dressed her up really good put together a catchy song and then where she at now? You know what I’m saying…it like y’all don’t know what to do. Like put this look, make you super poppy and then that’s it and follow the Nicki Minaj route and I love Nicki Minaj but let Nicki be Nicki though and if you want to bring up another woman that rap, and another thing too with the industry it’s like everybody wants all these formulas. It’s like Nicki Minaj she came through and she had this formula so any other woman that we think we want to elevate to her level like,”let’s give her that formula too”. That’s like no! Let us artists be who we are as artists, you know what I’m saying? Like don’t try to make this formula, put this on us to where we are just carbon copies ya know what I’m saying? So I think a lot of that plays into it as well so it’s a lot of variables to as why female rappers aren’t pushed commercially. But that’s my theory of it anyway.
How would you describe the Columbus Hip-Hop scene?
Dominique Larue: It’s alive and well, like there’s people that’s like,”yo,there’s nothing to do here in Columbus” like blahzay blah ,”like it’s not like it used to be” and I’m like,”what are you talking about?!” Like I don’t even see you out! I be out at Hip-Hop shows, I don’t even see you at the shows so what are you talking about? There are like fresh, younger guys coming up that are dope that put on dope shows that definitely got the wave goin’. Whether it’s rap or production and then all the people we’ve known here in Columbus is still doin’ it…Blueprint,illogic,J.Rawls,myself,SOOP Rashaad,Beta, ..….like we out here! Like the music that we make is dope. I mean it’s Columbus so nobody really, people forget that Ohio is even a state although we have the best basketball player in the world but people still forget that, you know what I’m saying? Or I’ll go and perform in another city and its like,”she’s from Columbus,Ohio” and what they say? “Oh, ok Bone!”(laughs) Which is cool for me because that’s a compliment because Bone is the shit! Like you saying that but you had,”E. 1999 Eternal” didn’t you though? You know what I’m saying…you know what happens when “First of the month” comes on like c’mon know. But I’m saying though or like Bow Wow you know what I’m saying? That’s who people bring up and depending on who you talking to you might even get a Hi-Tek.
Ah yea,Cincinnati and Mood…..
Dominique Larue: Yea,yea exactly so…but again Hip-Hop is alive and well here like we out here,we out here putting out good music uh, I know we talking about Hip-Hop music but 21 Pilots are from here and they just got a Grammy….
Who is that?
Dominique Larue: 21 Pilots, they just got a Grammy pulled they pants off shouted out Columbus, Ohio…yea, music is alive and well here. It’s a lot of stuff going on here that people wouldn’t know unless they come here.
So what do you think of Hip Hop in general? Is it where it needs to be or do we need to start pushing the Underground more up? Is Underground where it needs to be?
Dominique Larue: I mean, for me personally as somebody that listens to music everyday that digs for music, that buys music, that’s on Soundcloud or I’m on the internet you know what I’m saying? For me, I’m good with it. I don’t listen to the radio and not that listening to the radio is really a problem for me I’m just saying like I can find whatever I want to listen to. I don’t know, I guess I really don’t care to be honest. I’m not one of those people that are mad about the state of Hip Hop today. Like no man, I love Migos, I love Rae Sremmurd, Lil Uzi Vert, you know what I’m sayin’? Like I listen to all of that. Gucci Mane, that’s my dude! Like for me, it doesn’t bother me because I feel like even the underground, you can make money that way. There are so many ways to make money. Just because you’re not on Mtv,you’re not everywhere and your songs not being played on every single radio station every single hour like YOU CAN GET MONEY. You need to be independent, you actually should prefer to be independent. You can get get an independent label and just do it yourself and if you’re good enough people are going to take notice, that’s literally how it goes. So, to me I don’t complain about it,it’s just what it is. I think the Hip Hop industry, like most industries is corporate.So it’s like,”We are going to find a gimmick and we are going to push this gimmick until people cannot positively take it anymore” and it’s been like that for a very long time. So for me I’m not mad about it. I’m ok as long as I can find and listen to good music I’m doing good.
Dominique Larue: I’m working on a project with Tha Audio Unit called “I’m smiling because I hate everything“. And I think that project is going to be incredible, like it already is. We are 11 songs deep in the project right now. Probably record a few more then pick the best ones and then really start really putting it together so that’s what’s going to come out this year.
So you hate everything?
Dominique Larue: “I’m smiling because I hate everything”.
What’s that all about?
Dominique Larue: It’s sarcasm, the project is gonna capture me going through depression and anxiety and working through the motions and the name to me, I think it’s a funny name, it’s sarcastic ya know? And a lot of times with depressed people like us we kinda go through these modes when we really just hate everything ya know but I’m just kinda smiling through it all. Ya know at the same time people think that depressed people are just super like “woe is me”. There are days like that but normally man we out here…kickin’ it, smiling. Yea, I hate all you muthafucka’s (laughs) but I’m smiling anyway. That’s really the idea behind it.
So for anybody who’s interested where can people find you at on social media?
Dominique Larue: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… DLaruemusic or just google Dominique Larue you’ll find all my information.
Anything you wanna leave your fans with before we get out here?