Relatable raps: Rapper and former UB student Dom Brown talks about his music and family
Dom Brown was nervous the week leading up to his Canalside performance.
The rapper was preparing to perform in front of 8-10,000 people at his biggest concert yet.
But he recalls his nerves melting away as soon as he stepped foot on stage. He knew he had to be confident to open for Nelly.
Brown, a former UB student and rapper, performed songs from his recent album, “No Genre” during the Aug. 10 concert. The album defies conventional music genres, according to Brown, combining aspects of hip-hop, rap, R&B and Afro-inspired beats. The former Bull, who left school to pursue music when his daughter was born, looks back on his time at UB as a developmental stage and hopes his music can resonate with his daughter.
Brown says music has been ingrained in him since he was a child, recalling his first rap in third grade. The Rochester native was supposed to write a poem for his class, but instead, with the help of his mother, wrote a rap.
After that moment, Brown would do anything he could to write music. He recalls writing his own lyrics to other artists’ music.
Brown arrived at UB in 2011 as a sociology and legal studies major. During his time at UB, Brown made music on a cheap microphone in his dorm room.
Tonye Kay, Brown’s friend and frequent music collaborator of 12 years, says he has seen progression in Brown’s music and style since his UB days.
“He’s definitely grown. He’s gotten more confident, more confident in himself.” Kay said. “Definitely his songwriting has grown. He’s put together a lot of better songs. I think he’s trending up.”
Brown’s current music is influenced by various genres and artists like Drake and Childish Gambino, who inspire him with their “versatile sound.” Brown grew up listening to rap and R&B and says that those styles are “ingrained” in him.
Brown was almost finished with his degrees when his daughter, DiMaya, was born. Brown decided to take a break from school to take care of her.
He hasn’t gone back and says the dynamic of being a father and a musician has caused a shift in focus in his musical process.
He says what was once a “worry-free” process, has now become difficult as he takes care of his daughter.
“Being a dad gave me more responsibility.” Brown said. “I think right now, I’m just more mature. I have more adult responsibilities. Music is more difficult to manage because of the things I have right now.”
Despite this difficulty, Brown sees his music influencing his daughter’s love of music.
Brown recalls music being a large part of his childhood since his father was a DJ. Now, he can see the same thing happening with his daughter, who knows the words to Brown’s music and inspires him to keep making new songs.
In the future, Brown hopes to remain relatable while expanding his following. He hopes that talking about his life, his daughter and his experiences in songs can help listeners in similar situations.
“I want them to connect with the music and listen to it when they’re going through something, or to make their day better.” Brown said.
Julianna Tracey is the senior arts editor and can be reached at Julianna.Tracey@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @JTraceySpec.