Rapper Dom Kennedy brings the California sunshine to Howard Theatre


Dom Kennedy brought a party atmosphere to the Howard Theatre on Wednesday night. (Kyle Gustafson/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

In every Los Angeles ’hood movie, there is a scene in which folks gather at a cookout, “welcome home” party or drive-in. It looks like the most fun event in the world — until some fool comes in and starts fighting or shooting. Listening to rapper Dom Kennedy’s music is like being in one of those scenes but forever in the moment before chaos breaks out. He’s all about luxuriating in the California sunshine, talking to pretty girls and driving the newest cars. To hear the Leimert Park rapper tell it, pretty much every day is a good day.

Kennedy brought that party atmosphere to the Howard Theatre on Wednesday night. While not every track in his catalogue is about living it up, re-creating the good times he raps about seems to be the focus of his live show.

He jumped onstage to the opening G-funk strains of “Grind’n,” from last year’s “From the Westside with Love II,” and moved into “So Elastic,” which found him talking about chasing cash and women. The tracks that got the biggest reaction were, not surprisingly, the debauched “My Type of Party,” a standout from this year’s “Yellow Album” mix tape, and “1997,” from 2010’s critically acclaimed mix tape “From the Westside with Love.”

After a brief set by some of Kennedy’s fellow OpM (that’s Other People’s Money) Company artists, Kennedy returned to the stage and asked for “a female volunteer.” He brought up a beautiful woman who he swore wasn’t an audience plant, even though she was wearing next to nothing on a cold night and displayed suspiciously good dance moves. He plopped her in a chair, while he ran though the sex rap “The Ways,” but she refused to stay seated. So, Kennedy switched places with her, sitting down and letting her give him a lap dance, as if to let everyone know that he doesn’t just rap about the fast life, he lives it.

Godfrey is a freelance writer.

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