Success in the music business is much like the proverbial iceberg — there's plenty beneath the surface though most see just the tip. With local indie rapper King Dom's career beginning to peak, you'll be seeing and hearing more about him in the coming year. A member of Copywrite's ODOT crew, Dom earned his rep the last eight years — first as a battle rapper, then with several appearances on Copywrite's 2004 Cruise Control mixtape and 2007's subsequent The Jerk mixtape.
The crew (Dom, Copywrite, Jakki, Meta4ce, Tage, Catalyst and newest member, Cleveland's A-One) recently hooked up with Man Bites Dog Records, which is also releasing records by Wu Tang members Killah Priest and U-God. Dom's signed a deal where he makes money from digital and physical copies of his releases, as well as YouTube views. He is slotted to release his solo debut in the 2010 (after new releases by Copywrite and Vast Aire), with production help from local production team the Kickdrums.
"It's a lucrative deal, if I work," says Dom.
He intends to. He says he's already sold several thousand copies of his latest mixtape, The CD Dom Sold Me on Tour, which he put together for his recent West Coast tour, clearing out a backlog of material. He's got another, Dom's World, on deck.
After our interview, he's heading to the studio to cut vocals for Copywrite's new EP, The Rebirth, which concludes with Dom's effervescent new track, "Take It Easy." Copywrite got the idea of including Dom's track from Killah Priest, who got a big boost when GZA put one of his tracks at the end of the legendary Liquid Swords. "Copy said hopefully someone will mistake it for his song," says Dom.
Local rap icon Suave Gotti encouraged the nascent rapper to come out to the local battles, Spitboxing, when Dom was just 16, and called him to the stage for the first time against his will. "I came out of the bathroom and everyone was pointing me to the stage. I didn't even have a name. He'd asked me if I was battling earlier and I told him no, but he just called me onto the stage and crowned me as King Dom," recalls the 25-year-old. "I ended up winning the battle and was the champ for like 12 weeks."
But music has always been a part of Dom's life. He got a drum set in elementary school and was playing bar mitzvahs as part of a polka band when he was in 3rd grade. After jumping the fence at Blossom to get up close for a Santana concert a few years later, Dom asked his parents for a guitar and led a punk-rock band before the hip-hop bug bit. "If I had a guitar right here, you would never think I ever rapped," he jokes.
Dom met Copywrite back in 2001, while Copy was still a member of Def Jux supergroup the Weathermen, on tour with M.O.P. When the Columbus rapper broke from the group and label to start his own Ohio-based crew, Dom got a call. What was originally scheduled to be one track turned into five. "I went down for the session and we just clicked, and we've been making music together ever since," says Dom, pointing to the strength of the crew as a big inspiration. "It creates a friendly, competitive edge that makes everybody better."
Though a talented musician, Dom still doesn't do much of his own production. "My rap skills still surpass my production skill," he says. However, he did recently buy his own MPC electronic production system.
For now, he uses it mostly to bounce tracks to his ODOT crew members. But he's also been working with a singer Carlicia La Gata, and helped bring A-One — who appears on three tracks of Dom's latest mixtape — into the ODOT fold. Beyond that, he's been doing some work with Chimaira's Jim LaMarca, whose old office is Dom's studio, and has been writing with producer Ben Schigel for other performers, including local pop artist Cali Miles.
"There are so many ways to make money in this game," says Dom. "People see CD sales declining and think it's over. It's not. Sell some merch, do some writing and try your hand at everything."