With the Unique confidence of a Young girl who recently witnessed her President’s inauguration on MLK Day – and the sheer Dominance of Kobe in a Black mamba mood –Dominique Young Unique is nothing if not damn sure she is supposed to be exactly who she is, and precisely where she is at. Sony Music’s latest signee is a flamboyantly outspoken fashionable free-spirit. DYU took a break from her studio session to fire up a convo with DOPE.
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(ToneSwep: TS) First off, when are you coming out here to Cali? We need to see that cockiness and flair on stage.
(Dominique Young Unique: DYU) I’ll be doing a show soon out there. They are working on my tour now. And I will be there to work on music with a few producers at the end of this month. And I’ll do some shopping and partying while I’m there. I love LA. I got love for Cali.
(TS) A few days ago you dropped some new music, “Get ‘Em”, produced by Nik Nikateen. Is that a teaser from this new EP we’ve been on the lookout for?
(DYU) No, it’s just a hot song. I had released it because I’m getting ready to drop my EP. I have five strong tracks on there. The EP is really different from what I’ve done in the past. I have really found Dominique Young Unique, and much of my new music is about what I’ve been through as a young Black girl in the struggle; me growing up as a woman. I did the whole EP by myself. And with me singing and rapping, my voice has gotten stronger and I have matured as a person, and as an artist. I’m better. There is a track called “Fire”, a really fun track. It’s a club banger. A lot of fans will love that. Everyone has been through a struggle and will relate to another song I have on the EP. I’m not mentioning the title yet, but it’s Beyoncé powerful.
(TS) “Going in Hard” is when you landed on our radar, and then we went back and bumped into all of your viral songs like “The world is Mine”, “War Talk”, and “Show My Ass” which is probably your most popular to date. Talk a little about your musical journey thus far.
(DYU) I started doing music when I was 12-years-old. My producer David Alexander flew me to London when I was 17, and I was going to sign with EMI but so many labels started showing interest, the talks and negotiations and all that began. I started rapping when I was a child, always inspired by Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, and Beyoncé. I was so inspired as a girl. And the “Show My Ass” single will be on the EP as well, so a total of 5 tracks. I am re-recording it with a bigger sound.
(TS) There is a funny story behind the video for “Show My Ass”.
(DYU) Yes! (Laughs, screams) I paid a guy with chicken wings and he shot the video for me (Laughs!). We were in London and I wanted to shoot the video there because the song had an international vibe, feel me. But a girl had to budget (Laughs!). So I bought the wings from pizza hut and he was cool with that.
(TS) How did the Sony Records deal come together?
(DYU) Basically, the executives who I met with there in London were with EMI at the time. And they were like “Sign to EMI!”, but while we were in talks those same executives moved over to Sony, and the deal was better, so they signed me there. He said, “I see you as a star and I’m bringing you in”. The reason I didn’t put out a record for eight months was because I was perfecting my sound, recording new music, fashion stuff, video concepts and everything. I do it all myself.
(TS) You have been able to function with total creative freedom and conceptual autonomy to this point. Has signing to a major changed anything?
(DYU) Not really, because whoever signed you isn’t going to be on stage performing, in the studio recording, or in front of crowds and audiences, feel me. And I don’t work like that anyways. Dominique Young Unique has to do her own thing. Not anyone else’s thing. Can’t do nobody else thing. I am myself, and I am not going to change it for anybody. And besides that, the executives I work with tell me to just do my own thing. That is who they signed.
(TS) Your fashion style reminds me of a spaceship with nail polish on. Like stainless steel eyelashes and platinum lipstick. Like a Jumbotron with red bottoms on.
(DYU) (Laughs!) To tell you the truth… wait that’s too funny… I just grew up experimenting with fashion. I like to look on the websites, on the internet, and do my thing. I put my unique spin on things. People in Tampa are like, “are you from here?”As for brands, I like Chanel. I love to rock Chanel. It’s so unique. I like to rock bebe even though its a less expensive label. I like to rock a lot of cheap brands too though, because to me they are more unknown. Then you can jazz it up with accessories and other big brands.
(TS) When it comes to Florida, we here about Miami most often. But you are from Tampa, how does Tampa differ from Miami? What was your experience growing up there?
(DYU) Tampa is like country, country, country. It’s like the fuckin’ country out here. Miami is like a city with everything: parties, shopping, clubs, beach life. Everything is there. It’s White here too, mostly Black and White so you don’t get much diversity. But I traveled the world and saw new things early, so Tampa represents my childhood. People ask me how I do all these things being from Tampa. I am like the only young person in music who is big from Tampa. Everyone here knows about me too. There is a lotta trouble, drama, bitches hating here too. Tampa good for that. But I stay out of all that. I don’t get involved in it.
(TS) Tampa has one of the largest LGBT populations in the nation. How did that affect your night club and party experience growing up? Did it guide your sound and style at all?
(DYU) You talkin’ ‘bout the gay b!tches right? The gay people? I don’t really pay that any attention. I respect people, it doesn’t matter who they are or what they are into. In Tampa, there are a lot of Hip Hop events here also, but that isn’t really my sound either, but I party to it. So I know of that other side but I didn’t really experience it growing up, at least not that much.
(TS) In the south we hear the Trina’s and Diamond’s in rap, and then in R&B we think Keri Hilson, Ciara, and then there are the southern sirens who grow up singing in the church and on the gospel circuit. Your style differs widely from any of this, however. What influenced you culturally, and musically, and ultimately led to the DYU sound and style?
(DYU) I used to always listen to Trina. She was considered underground, and she talked a lot of sh!t and was a nasty freaky girl. I liked that a lot. I liked Trina mostly. Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and Missy Eliot too. But mainly I listened to Trina. She has a Florida sound, a south sound. So in the clubs it was always her music, and then too she is just real.
(TS) Let’s talk about boys and money. What do you like about boys and what do you love about money?
(DYU) Boys, I like their personality. But he has to be strong. You don’t want no soft ass n!99a. You have to be a strong boy for Dominique Young Unique. And money… Money over everything man. Gotta get it. Gotta have it. Can’t have sh!t in this world without it, feel me.
(TS) What makes you DOPE?
(DYU) I’m young. I’m unique. I’ma badass. I’m smart. Sometimes I’m disrespectful. Sometimes I’m edgy, street. Sometimes I’m international, sweet. But I’m always me. I’ma always be Dominique Young Unique. And that’s DOPE.