After stopping by Dominique Young Unique’s opening night showcase at SXSW, we caught up with her the Tampa rapper for a chat. Her favorite word? Crazy. As in the mental state you’d have to be in to dismiss her. Check out the interview below.
So this is your second SXSW? How was it last time?
It was the same, but more crowded, people everywhere. I met a lot of A&R people, record company people. It was fun. It was tough.
Tough? What was tough about it?
You know, like the crowds and stuff. Everybody comin’ to see Dominique Young Unique. It was crazy.
I saw your show last night, it was good.
Oh really? I think I seen you in the crowd! Haha. I was like, “He looks familiar.”
Do you still get nervous at shows like that?
Well, yeah, sometimes. To tell you the truth, sometimes I do get butterflies. But I think that’s like all artists, you know? When they have big shows, crowded shows, they be catchin’ butterflies before they go on stage. I still get a little nervous, but when I get on stage and do my thing, I be fallin’ in that little groove and it’s just like “fuck it.”
What made you want to get into rapping in the first place?
Me and my cousin started writing each other music. At first I tried to be a singer, but that didn’t work out [laughs]. So I started writing lyrics and it just went on from there. Trina inspired me a lot. I used to see her on TV and say “That’s gonna be me one day.” I liked her attitude. And so I just went after my dream.
How old were you when all this was happening?
I was like 11 when I first started playing around. But by 12 I got serious. That’s when I realized I really had the talent and could write my own lyrics.
And when did your break come? How did you start working with industry people and actually putting out music?
Well I met David Alexander, my producer, when I was 13 and we recorded “Hot Girl” and “Music Time,” my first two singles when I was 14 and 15. Then we released it and just kept in contact with people. He took me under his wing. We’ve been to London and everywhere else. We’ve been meeting record people, people to feature with. Getting started.
And what do your parents think of all of this? Are they supportive?
Yeah, they love it. Once upon a time we had to struggle and were stayin’ in a car and I was like, “You know what, I’ma just go ahead and do my thing to get my family out of this. I don’t wanna see my family struggle no more.” So they’re really happy with what I’m doing. They push me and keep me going.
So you mentioned Trina already, and I’ve heard you talk about Nicki Minaj before. What do you like about those artists?
Well, Nicki, she crazy. That’s a crazy bitch. I love her, though. She got her own look. At first she came out like Lil' Kim, but then she went her own way and was just Nicki Minaj. Crazy hairstyles, this, that and so on. And Trina, she considers herself a bad bitch and an independent chick and I like that. I like her attitude. She got a bad bitch attitude and that’s what I like about her.
And have you had a chance to meet Trina yet?
No, I haven’t had a chance to meet her yet. But one day.
What’s the music scene in Tampa like now?
Now everybody knows Dominique, they show me love. Before, there wasn’t nobody trying to do music. But since I’ve been doin’ my thing, putting Tampa on the map, everybody wants to do music or whatever. It’s crazy. But you know, I’m willing to help those guys, too. But first, they gotta let ME make it. Then, when I make it, I’m gonna turn back around and help them, you feel me? But that’s the way it goes, you know. The music scene in Tampa, they doin' they thing or whatever. It's hip hop. Talkin about guns, weed, the same thing, you know. So I just had to get out that little life and just move to the next level.
Do you still live in Tampa?
I still live in Tampa, but I’m on the road a lot. We’re actually gonna rent a house in Africa for a month and write some music and stuff pretty soon.
Tell me about your new mixtape, Glamorous Touch.
Well since my first mixtape, Domination, my lyrics have gotten more mature as I’ve been growing. Things that I’m going through with my family, life, whatever—I put it all on myGlamorous Touch mixtape. I talk about fiction, non-fiction, who gives a fuck? I like to have fun with my music. You don’t always gotta be so serious with your music. You can have fun and party and that’s what I did. I know thatGlamorous Touch inspires a lot of people and that they love it.
And what’s next?
Just pushin’, keepin’ it goin’, doin’ more shows, building up Dominique Young Unique’s fan base. I don’t really wanna drop an album yet, though. Because that’s what everybody do. I’m not tryna be like everybody. I wanna drop like 10 mixtapes. I wanna be different. And a mixtape is pretty much the same thing as an album. You only do an album because you wanna have it in stores and for people to go buy it. But I wanna give my fans more music first so they can really get to know Dominique Young Unique. Then when I drop my album, everybody’s gonna go crazy.
(Photo: Getty Images)