More specifically, we Need to Talk About Little Dominiques Nosebleed
“When I was a little kid, I was in two serious car accidents that would change the rest of my life,” the words are emblazoned right on the front cover of The Koreatown Oddity’s new record.
The layout is simple, accompanied only by a picture of the artists, staring directly at camera, as the eponymous nose trickles dark blood over the rappers face. In the hands of most artists and designers, this would be a confrontational cover that could have been scandalous or visceral. In the hands of the Koreatown Oddity, however, there is a withdrawn matter-of-factness about the affair, which drives home the documentary-like nature of Little Dominique’s Nosebleed-this is a snapshot of an artist, a complete and rounded as possible artistic representation of a person and the experiences which have shaped them. And therein lies its incredible power.
“Looking back to understand where I’m at” are the first words spoken by the Los Angeles born-and-raised rapper, and there’s a contemplation in them as he launches into the story of his life. So much of what The Koreatown Oddity reveals in the following tracks feels intimate—from teaching his mom to freestyle, to listening to her cassettes, to the matter-of-fact recollection of being on the way to his babysitter’s in a white Nissan before the first of the previously mentioned accidents occurs, at which point his real life mom makes a starring appearance recollecting how the accident happened.
“God’s got big plans for you if you’re still here,” she tells him as he staunches the bleeding from his damaged sinuses, alternately comforting the young artist and wailing in rage and fear as a result of the accident. And Little Dominiques Nosebleed seems like one of those big plans coming to absolute fruition. Throughout nearly an hour of rapping over the course of 16 tracks, The Koreatown Oddity offers snapshot after snapshot of his life and the life of a young man in Koreatown as he was growing up—detailing parts of the Rodney King Riots, of the neighborhood from which he gets his name’s reputation and demographics, of growing up in Los Angeles at large. His delivery, reminiscent of artists like Homeboy Sandman or fellow Los Angeles hip hop star Open Mike Eagle—able to plug every bar with intelligent, insightful, and slightly off-the-wall rhymes and insights—and his beats are so laden with references, samples, guest vocals, and radio samples that they remind me a bit of the incredible MF Doom. But at every turn he manages to differentiate himself from these artists, in part in his commitment to revealing everything he can about his experiences without ego. Despite the withdrawn nature of his vocal delivery, there is clearly such passion and such dedication to revealing all of these incredibly intimate thoughts and experiences without ego, it feels like one of the most complete self-portraits of a musician I have ever heard.
While it’s runtime can be daunting, and some of the beats run just on the other side of being comfortable to listen to (theres plenty of incredible instrumentation mixed with the occasional off-programmed note), Little Dominiques Nosebleed is without doubt one of the best records released this year. Its out on Stone’s Throw Records. Be sure to check it out.