We hype up-and-coming Floridian rapper Dominique Young Unique just about every chance we get, even tagging her one of the best new female emcees in the world.But in her new video for “Hype Girl” the self-confident young emcee does our work for us.
The track is a sparkling gem set in her recent Stupid Pretty mixtapeand the video Ms. Unique mugging a lot and making the kind of fashion choices you only make when you know you can do no wrong. To condense the visual and musical content:She’s ridiculously cute and rhymes with terrifying ferocity. She knows it, and she’s going to make sure you know it too.It leaves us with nothing to add except, “Yeah! What she said!”
We all want to find the next big thing because it makes us feel kind of cool. You can be all like “I was listening to Florence & The Machine before she even had an album out. I found her on some cool hip underground blog.” Not that those words have come out of my mouth. On that note, we here at Groovebug are pretty confident we’ve found the next big thing and it is this week’s featured artist, the sassy miss Dominique Young Unique.
The 19-year-old Tampa Bay rapper has gone from rapping in the courts of her Robes Park projects to playing a worldwide stage within a year of releasing her first mixtape. She has performed alongside the likes of N.E.R.D, Big Boi, Die Antwoord and Gucci Mane, and to top it off, she won the approval of Kanye West during London Fashion Week. Dazed Digital magazine puts in best when they describe her “with the sexy swagger of Lil Kim, the ghetto credibility of Trina and the spitting skills of Nicki Minaj, it’s impossible to ignore Tampa electro rap queen, Dominique Young Unique.”
Her infectious beats and badass attitude make Dominique Young Unique absolutely bound for stardom. Every young female rapper wants to be the next Nicki Minaj, but this girl IS the next Nicki Minaj. Her most recent mixtape, Stupid Pretty, was released in September and solidifies Dominique Young Unique’s spot in the rising hip-hop elite.
Here’s what the New York Times wrote about Miss Unique’s performance at last year’s CMJ showcase:
The rapper Dominique Young Unique, from Tampa, has what it takes to get noticed, in or out of CMJ. She’s young (still a teenager), svelte, career-minded, raunchy and aggressive. She rattles off rhymes at top speed in a high, cutting voice, punctuated now and then with a singsong hook; her producers rev up analog electro sounds and they looked excited onstage, playing synthesizers and percussion. MTV has steadily promoted her.
At Webster Hall on Tuesday night, she was in pink and black, strutting and crowing about her skills, her cash flow, her freakishness and her toughness, cynical before she’s 20: “It’s all a game to me.” She was arrogant and then just a little gawky, tugging at a top that kept slipping down, and flashing a girlish gap-toothed grin before the next programmed beat started up. But in the course of the set, the downside to her camera-ready novelty emerged: She’s a monotone, and her enthusiastic chorus singalongs were rarely close to the melody. That can be fudged in the studio, but now’s the time for her producers to start her thinking about pitch.
“Stupid-pretty ladies have a strong mind, a bad-girl personality and keep their head on their shoulders,” says nineteen year-old rapper Dominique Young Unique of her newest dance-rap track “Stupid Pretty.” Her “statement meets slang” ethos is telling of the kind of playful pop sensibilities the Tampa-native puts into her work. She’ll readily admit to diva-worship (she tells us Beyoncé andRihanna are big inspirations) while maintaining a lyrical street style that’s endearingly young and true-to-self. It’s an approach that’s most easily comparable to that of Baltimore MC and M.I.A.protege Rye-Rye; both share a pop aesthetic that revolves around catchy hooks, sassy teenage provocations, and a clear love for fashion and dance-offs.
On this remix of “Stupid Pretty” by I.R.O.K. (a.k.a. Intergalactic Republic of Kongo), a group helmed by Young’s keyboardist and hypeman Jan Blumentrath, she describes him as ” a crazy bitch,” in reference to his style. “I love watching them play. He bites the heads off children in the audience.” While her band-mate’s rendition doesn’t conjure up any images that are quite so violent, it certainly does venture towards the dark side. The original’s hip-hop-friendly backtrack of driving bass and bright synths are replaced with a glitchy, tribal drumline, chopped vocal samples and a sinister male on the chorus of “I’m a pretty girl,” essentially morphing Young’s rap into a vogue-worthy club track — a place we can only assume Young feels quite comfortable in.
Dominique’s performance at Southpaw on Friday — which preceded her bigger show at Webster Hall — was a too-quick, but powerful onslaught of positive energy, hyper dance beats and rapid-fire hip hop flow. Even though she was the first performer that evening (beforeBig Freedia, no less), Dominique quickly got the audience grinning like idiots and throwing their hands in the air like they didn’t care.
Dominique recently released the EP Blaster and a mixtape Domination, wooing fans with her filthy track “Show My A**,” which combines her Southern drawled, impressive 90-mile-an-hour verbal attack and punchy, versatile electro pop samples. Her charismatic blond-haired German synth player Jan Blumentrath and producer David Alexander keep the music hard, glitchy, and ever-changing, as opposed to continuously looping samples.
When Dominique first got on stage at Southpaw, I was a bit unnerved by how, well, Young she looked. She seemed too babyfaced to be wearing such a scant leopard-print dress while rapping about p**sies and getting freaky.
But the 19-year-old won the crowd’s confidence immediately with a mature command of the stage. She quickly became Fun Embodied with all her flailing, smiling, flawless flow, and endearing “Thank yaaaaoooouuuu!!!”‘s after every song.
But my favorite part: Sometime after the track “P***y Popping,” (we can’t say any of her track names, of course) Dominique did something reserved for creatures of lore.
She jiggled ONE butt cheek.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It all happened so fast. But believe me, ye skeptical readers, there was one lone buttcheek jiggling before me whilst the other remained stationery (and it wasn’t a clench either). So, either Dominique is paralyzed in one buttcheek, or she’s a superhero.
And a humble one at that. She only did it once in her set before opening the downstage area for Jan to whip his blond mane around and dance like a white guy. He even put his synth on the ground to drive the point home.
But the show ended too quickly, leaving the audience hungry and literally reaching toward the stage for more. It’s CMJ, so there’s no time for an encore — but with so many stage antics in such an early, short show, Dominique Young Unique proves that even the young can be generous.
Check out the rave reviews of DYU + “Stupid Pretty” from Playground Misnomer:
Dominque Young Unique’s track record so far: A total of three short and sweet and mixtapes in the last year and a half and an onslaught of tours opening for Dirty Projectors and God knows who else. Nobody in the rap game or any other game has really been this eclectic in their musical styles and self-image. There’s always some type of boundary that restricts an artist’s movements, that they reach at some point, wherein they rest on their laurels or find a set group to collaborate with. Dominique Young Unique seems limitless in her potential as to just what she could do with her music, which is ironic, being that she has barely collaborated with anyone, rappers or otherwise on any of her releases. She has yet to slow down the speed of her delivery, which is still turned up to insane levels and tuned into just about anything frantic.
This was never a demerit and isn’t a demerit either on Stupid Pretty, her latest mixtape. She kicks off with the best familiar formula on “Gangster Whips,” hitting harder than Meek Mill on what could be an A+ Meek Mill beat if only he could get his hands on it. She even brings up “get a couple Maybachs”. The beat’s addictive, with slamming drums, horns, and keyboards in the chorus. She spares us her weirder side on the track, bragging mostly about “Stacking really is a habit / You know you know you know been there and done that.”
She follows up with presentations of her other very well-known personalities along with a few more stand out beats (but only a few more, as the tape’s only twenty minutes long). She plays the party girl many times, but it’s her idea of the party girl, which is so insane she tears any traditional idea to shreds. This is on full display in the track “Stupid Pretty”, which samples “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame. While “No Hands” was apparently some weird form of a love song dedicated to “crazy chicks”, “Stupid Pretty” is its antithesis, as a girl like Dominique could eat Roscoe Dash, Wale, or Flocka for breakfast (Gucci I’m not so sure about. Might need a doggie bag).|
Her rhymes remain inventive and funny in a psychotic way – same goes for her on-the-mic personas. She’s still the “hot girl” but also the “hype girl / gonna get the paper girl”, which is a great way of acknowledging her attention in the music industry with a hefty dash of swag. The tape absolutely never gets old even though it could be said that her sound hasn’t changed in the last year. It’s only gotten a lot better. The beats are pure fun, as frantic and over the top as Young Unique’s lyrics. The sample of “Iron Man” in “Rock with You” is completely appropriate and better than what could be conceived through a Michael Jackson sample or something else predictable.
The only detrimental trait of her tapes has been their length, usually sitting just above half an hour. This tape is her shortest yet, clocking in at twenty minutes, but by now it’s figure that that’s just her style, short and sweet and shocking and sour and anything else she’d like to be. When listening to “Show Stop” at the end it’s hard to imagine any other rapper collaborating with her and being to keep up with a “show stop/ the one they all fuss about” who raps about dropping dice, getting with boys and girls alike (all in a minute no less!), and most importantly anything and everything balling. She cannot and will not be stopped, this independently individualized individual.