Kirby Dominant

Starr: The Contemplations of a Dominator


Starr: The Contemplations of a Dominator


In a moment when Bay Area hip-hop is synonymous with hyphy in most people's minds, it's radio-shock savvy of Kirby Dominant to throw down a solo effort that follows no trends while his Niggaz and White Girlz project with Chris Sinister continues to generate word of mouth. Though its cover art features the same fuchsia hues of Niggaz and White Girlz — according to the man himself, fuchsia is the current signature color of the Rapitalism label — there is no denying that Starr: The Contemplations of a Dominator finds its creator on what he's described as "some Jack Pollock shit," throwing different ideas and sounds at your head and seeing what sticks.

The first thing that does is the leadoff track, "Shenanigans," on which Dominator taps into an Irish atmosphere derived from time spent in Saskatchewan — but make no mistake, the guitar riff–driven result is no Leprechaun in the Hood pure silliness, and he steps far outside any record collection you'd find in a house of pain. Tapping into various space scientist and chemist cadences (much like Kool Keith in Dr. Octagon mode) to formulate what he deems musical style number 1,576,384,979, Dominant mocks faux producers with no range and knowledge, informing them that "Gil Evans would stab your ass with a toothbrush."

From there he journeys through the warm soul of the title track, lowering a voice that can be as mischievous as early Q-Tip in order to target MCs with no vocabulary whose rhymes are "fermentin' like orange juice in prison." Going "solo like a nigga at the rodeo," he moves through "Come Outside" to a rock jam coda and then pays tribute to homegirl Joni Mitchell during "The Power of Stephen Padmore's Shirt." On "So Right" he even gets so loose mentally that he turns instrumental, collaborating with Roy Hargrove to create a trumpet-inflected epic. In the near future Dominant plans to spread the new wave thuggin' gospel further with Bloody Tuxedos, and he's even venturing into classical music with Ensemble Mik Nawooj. Starr proves his wild wordplay can comfortably occupy and redesign any space between those wildly different zones.

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