Domino – Domino (December 7, 1993)

After the Rodney King verdict and just days before the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a few high-ranking leaders from some of the L.A. Crips and Blood sets, Football Hall of Famer, Jim Brown and others, met to discuss a peace treaty amongst the rivals gangs. The treaty was established and would grow outside of just the Bloods and Crips, as most of the other Black and Latino gangs in L.A. would follow suit, which would ultimately help decrease the gang-related violence that helped ravage the L.A./Watts area in the eighties and early nineties. West coast hip-hop and gang culture have always been synonymous, and even though a lot of the left coast emcees were affiliated with a set, they didn’t openly claim one on records…but that would soon change.

Ronnie M Phillips, better known to the world as Ronnie Ron, was a producer and the founder of Dangerous Records. After the truce, Ronnie had the bright idea to bring together some of the Crips and Bloods with rhyming skills and put together an album. This idea would birth Bangin’ On Wax and Bangin’ On Wax 2, which would give the rivals a chance to set trip and kill each other on records instead of shooting each other with guns and dying in the streets. Bangin’ On Wax would go on to earn the bangin’ brethren a gold plaque. One of the rappers representing the blue corner on Bangin’ On Wax was a rapper named Genuine Draft, who made a big enough impression on the album to earn himself a solo deal on a small label called Outburst (that was distributed by Def Jam/Columbia), He would change his rap moniker from Genuine Draft to Domino for his self-titled debut.

Domino would call on DJ Battlecat (who also worked on Bangin’ On Wax) and Robert “Fonksta” Bacon to handle the production for the entire album, and on the strength of two pretty successful singles, Domino would go on to earn the Crip claiming emcee another gold plaque. Domino would continue to spew out music after his debut album, but would never match its commercial success, and I honestly couldn’t name one song or album after his debut…unless I Googled it, of course…which I did and is how I know his catalog exist in the first place. But I digress.

Diggady Domino – The album begins with a cool up-tempo instrumental and Domino introducing himself to the world as the reformed gangster now rapper/singer/party animal. This was a decent start to the evening.

Getto Jam – This was the lead single from Domino and is easily the biggest hit in his catalog. Over a smooth laid back groove, Domino harmonizes about a day (or a whole weekend) in the life of a brother from Long Beach. Domino’s lyrics are a bit elementary, but his harmonized rhyming style still sounds slick, today.

A.F.D. – Is an acronym for “Ass For Days” (which if you can’t tell by Domino’s rhymes, you’ll quickly put together when the hook comes in). Battlecat and Robert Bacon hook up a breezy backdrop that Domino uses to praise women who are plentiful in the gluteus maximus area. Speaking of ass for days, I recently stumbled on an Instagram model named Mindy “Sittinpretty” Harwood the other day and this chick has so much ass she’s worthy of her own acronym: A.F.Y. (Ass For Years). You think I’m playing? Check for yourself. It’s so ridiculous I thought it was Photoshopped. Oh yeah, the song. It’s pretty decent.

Do You Quality – Can I get a question mark on the song title, please? Domino delves into the topic of underage girls deceiving well-intentioned men into sleeping with them. Believe it or not, it does happen, folks. Battlecat samples a portion of Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness” and he and Mr. Bacon give it a bit of a g-funkish twist, turning it into a smooth groove. And remember, when in doubt, go ahead and ask her: Do you qualify?

Jam – Not to be confused with “Getto Jam”, Battlecat and Bacon continue their synthesized heavy production style, and Domino is in full party mode. This was kind of trash…next.

Money Is Everything – Over some laid back jazzy keys, Domino makes his version of Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”. Battlecat’s keys on this one remind me of the instrumental I first heard Domino on, which was “Mackin’ To Slob Bitches” from the Bloods & Crips’ Bangin’ On Wax album, and I believe Battlecat produced that song as well. This was pretty dope.

Sweet Potatoe Pie – This was the second single from Domino, and blame Domino for the misspelling of “potato” in the song title, not me. Battlecat’s instrumental sounds like it may have borrowed some elements of the bass line from The SOS Band’s “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” record and mixed it with some high pitch keys, and the end result is pretty dope. Of course Domino doesn’t bring anything new to the table, lyrically. Just more drinking, smoking, and thirstin’ for putang.

Raincoat – For those who don’t know, a raincoat is another name for a condom. Over a breezy backdrop Domino drops this safe sex PSA and stresses the importance of using the “rubber that’s in the plastic”, the “jacket in the packet”, not “testing the rain without a raincoat”…you get the point.

Long Beach Thang – Over an up-tempo instrumental that screams “west coast”, Domino shows love to the city he represents. He also manages to slip in a low-key shoutout to his Crip set (“and color’s a muthafucka aint it, ya just bought a red card yo’ ass better paint it”)before shrugging it off as a joke and holding true to the peace treaty. This was pretty dope. The only that could have made it better would have been a cameo from Mr. LBC himself, Snoop D-O-double G.

That’s Real – For the last song of the evening Domino invites AMG and La Quan to join him on this feast in misogyny, so, lyrically you know what you’re getting. Not a great song, but AMG’s laid back funk instrumental will grow on you after a few listens.

Even though I found both his singles (“Getto Jam” and “Sweet Potatoe Pie”) pretty solid back in 1993, there were so many good new albums coming out, almost weekly, I never checked for Domino back in the day. Thanks to Down In The Valley’s dollar bin, I was able to experience it twenty odd years later, and it’s actually a pretty decent listen. Domino is not a great lyricist or a great rapper, but his tone and the singy rapping thing he does (years before Drake did it, may I add…oh, and by the way, even though he claims on “Diggady Domino” that he can “rap, but singing is his trade”, he definitely raps more than he sings on this album) is entertaining and sounds nice over DJ Battlecat’s clean production. Domino is not a great album, but good enough to keep your head bobbin’ and your feet C-walkin’.



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