Domino’s 1993 Hit Forecast The Way Hip-Hop And R&B Would Jam (Video)

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Where there is smoke, there is fire—especially in the eyes of record labels. In many ways, Snoop Dogg’s appearance on “Deep Cover” set the table for Hip-Hop’s awareness to Long Beach City, California. Combining the stylings of Slick Rick and Smooth B, the lanky MC with the liquid flow appealed to the streets and mainstream America. By 1993, with his own Doggystyle solo debut on deck, the rest of the music industry was on the prowl for G-Funk talent.

Def Jam Records was one of the most invested imprints in the West Coast sounds. Twenty years before they would release My Krazy Life by YG, the label largely owned and operated by Russell Simmons would get as close to Dre and Snoop Dogg as they could, without trespassing on Death Row. The label signed Warren G, who was a talented multi-threat (and Dre’s half-brother) living in the shadows of the booming label. They signed South Central Cartel—who included “Gangsta’s Paradise” co-writer L.V. They also signed Domino. Not to be confused with the Hieroglyphics producer, this Domino had cut his teeth earlier in the decade rapping on famed releases by Bloods & Crips. First appearing on Bangin’ On Wax, Domino joined guys like Battlecat, Big Wy, and Tweedy Bird Loc as gang-bangers who wanted careers in the music industry.

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By 1993, Domino had that—signed to the same label as EPMD, LL Cool J, and ONYX. He would release a self-titled, 10-track LP through Outburst/Def Jam in December of the year. While no guests were on the Battlecat-produced LP (especially notables from the LBC), “Getto Jam” (co-written and co-produced by Domino and Battlecat) resonated strongly. Both the album and the single earned gold certification in early ’94.

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The video featured low-riders, neighborhood parties, and women with Domino in the bed. At the time, as critics would point out—it seemed like a torn page out of the Dre & Snoop playbook. However, unlike any artist yet released through Death Row or Ruthless Records, Domino seamlessly blended a pop R&B with his Hip-Hop. While Nate Dogg pulled from ghetto Gospel, and Kokane would be of the Parliament-Funkadelic lineage, Domino was more in a Teddy Riley chamber, yet all his own. The hit was two years before would-be label-mate Montell Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do It.” Albeit more subdued, the two records each achieved the same message, imagery, and balance of polish and perceived realness.

Twenty three years later, Domino—who to many, was dismissed in his day, is now proven to be an innovate. Artists like Drake, August Alsina, Trey Songz, and even Ghostface Killah’s Ghostdini Wizard Of Poetry In The Emerald City have narrowed the lines between traditional perceptions of R&B and Hip-Hop. Domino, without previous profile, or high-powered friends, was one of the first to do—especially with street imagery, R-rated content, and that bad boy charm.

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Dom’ released one more LP with Def Jam, before beginning an extensive independent career that has lasted well into the 2010s (see: Get It Right as “OG Domino”). On an island of his own, this LBC representative would become a tributary to the sounds to come.