Tampa's Dominique Young Unique at CMJ Music Marathon: The reviews are in
Here we are, almost in November, and 2010's breakout star of the Tampa music world has yet to play a hometown show.
We're talking about Dominique Young Unique, the teenage Tampa MC who's been lighting up blogs and online review sites with nasty, spitfire, electro-inspired rhymes like Show My Ass and Hot Girl. She's grown so popular that she was invited to tour with the Dirty Projectors, and has played at South By Southwest and, last week, the CMJ Music Marathon. In fact, her set was among the most anticipated at the annual college-radio hypefest.
We weren't there, so we'll turn to those who were. What did the national media have to say about Unique's much-hyped New York City sets? Some thought she killed it, others weren't convinced she's for real.
Here are some highlights from around the web (click the publication name for the full review):
Spin: Spin.com associate editor William Goodman called Unique's set the best of CMJ. "With her helium-high voice and vintage 808 beats, this 19-year-old Tampa rapper spits raunchy lyrics about having orgasms (P---- Popping) and flaunting herself (Show My Ass) with a self-assuredness that'd give 50 Cent the willies. Added bonus: Her keyboard player looked like a hybrid of Jared Leto and that guy from Flock of Seagulls."
New York Times: "At Webster Hall on Tuesday night, she was in pink and black, strutting and crowing about her skills, her cash flow, her freakishness and her toughness, cynical before she’s 20: “It’s all a game to me.” She was arrogant and then just a little gawky, tugging at a top that kept slipping down, and flashing a girlish gap-toothed grin before the next programmed beat started up. But in the course of the set, the downside to her camera-ready novelty emerged: She’s a monotone, and her enthusiastic chorus singalongs were rarely close to the melody. That can be fudged in the studio, but now’s the time for her producers to start her thinking about pitch."
Pitchfork: "Even though she turned in a performance equally leavened with tough talk and friendly energy, the crowd just wasn't having it at all. The loudest applause in the set came near the end of rapid-fire closer War Talk-- not because of anything Dominique was doing, but instead for her Jared Leto lookalike keyboardist, who brought a drum into the crowd and let an audience member add his own, uh, rhythm. The whole room ate it up, which, if you were paying attention to the performance for the right reasons, was a little depressing."
Minneapolis City Pages: "Stepping onstage in a red corset (this will matter in a second) and huge sunglasses, Dominique beamed, giving everyone an oddly patronizing "thank you!" like when someone asks you to do something, launching into her shrill, rapid rap delivery. Her corset was at least one size too big for her and kept slipping throughout the show, holding her back in a big way. Flanked by two gearheads generating frenetic, aggressive club beats that left no breathing room for interpretation (much like her rhymes), Dominique is of a frenetic frontlady cloth that will no doubt appeal to the young and the restless."
MTV Iggy: "The 19-year-old won the crowd’s confidence immediately with a mature command of the stage. She quickly became Fun Embodied with all her flailing, smiling, flawless flow, and endearing “Thank yaaaaoooouuuu!!!”‘s after every song. But my favorite part: Sometime after the track P---- Popping, (we can’t say any of her track names, of course) Dominique did something reserved for creatures of lore. She jiggled ONE butt cheek. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It all happened so fast. But believe me, ye skeptical readers, there was one lone buttcheek jiggling before me whilst the other remained stationery. So, either Dominique is paralyzed in one buttcheek, or she’s a superhero."
-- Compiled by Jay Cridlin, tbt*