Dom Kennedy's From the Westside, with Love ll is the Greatest Summer Album of All Time
Evan Dale // April 19, 2020
From the moment Watermelon Sundae– with its name alone, and with its undeniably West Coast texture in combination – dropped in the Summer of 2008 as part of the 25thHourmixtape, inspiring a new generation of Pacific hip-hop artists to eternally chase a warm weather auditory aesthetic, Dom Kennedy has been a sonic symbol of palm trees, ice cream trucks, and days spent lazily under the sun just as much as he’s a standing symbol of grass-roots rap, self-made success, and Leimert Park, LA. Building on the paced momentum of his spoon-fed style and eternally clever punchlines in 2011, Dom launched his independent Other People’s Money Company, dropped his debut studio album, From the Westside, With Love ll, and forever soundtracked the hip-hop community’s subsequent Summers.
Because if you somehow didn’t know, From the Westside, with Love ll is the greatest Summer album ever made.
End to end, the album is an hour-long exhibition of a style that no one in music has ever been able to replicate, even while Dom Kennedy himself makes it sound so effortless; an hour-long exhibition of a sound so signature to its creator and so representative of its community that it’s been one of the most sought-after underground textures by the featuring artists Dom – also without effort – seems to draw towards him with every release. It’s a project that, though brimming with non-specific disses towards hypothetical foes and women chasing South Los Angeles fame, never takes itself too seriously. And it’s a project that boasts an instrumental pack that any West Coast rapper worth their salt should be able to tear apart and make their own anthemic masterpiece if for no other reason than that it’s the most well-curated, multi-producer collection of the Southern California hip-hop cloth.
And Dom’s ability to put forth a 17-track masterpiece more defining of an artist’s forthcoming sound and the sound of the greater LA hip-hop scene that Dom would end up dominating in influence as some sort of West Coast godfather, is omnipotent today as it was jarring and game-changing when it dropped. Because everyone in LA was bumping From the Westside, with Love ll all Summer long in 2011, and everyone is still bumping it around the international hip-hop community at the first sign of Spring sun and the first sip of a rooftop brew.
FTWSWL2 is just that anthemic; that defining of a certain vibe and a specific season that it could have only come from one place and one artist.
Roll the windows down, drive, and play it all the way through. For best results, hit the 101 North out of town and let it coalesce with the place that it’s born from; made for. There is a short list of other musical projects through history so adhering to their geographic node that they become illustrative of it. And fewer still come from a place more representative of the Summer months than Southern California. And none but FTWSWL2 come from an artist as laid-back and nonchalant, yet hard-hitting and to-be-taken seriously as the weed-laden, beach-adjacent, sunshiny, palm-lined streets Dom Kennedy comes from. He is a product of his environment, and FTWSWL2 is his shining achievement, enshrining himself in the timelessness of West Coast synths, digestible raps about a lifestyle for the most part otherwise unrelatable, and intermittent hilarity. Even over the course of continued success – albums, mixtapes, collaborations, and years down the road – he has not been – no one has – no one ever will be able to replicate FTWSWL2.
With love on my mind and fire in my heart, they could never take us apart…. Never.
The album opens subtly enough. With BJ the Chicago Kid’s impeccable vocals weaving out of his own spoon-fed raps, Dom’s Prayer introduces both a project and its leading name as something larger, relatable, meaningful, and embedded in a feeling rounded out by tangibility and brutal honesty. Though the album will continue evolving stylistically and texturally for the next hour – eternally towards a beachside bar somewhere – it never deviates from the simple bit of inherent truth belayed in its opening mantra.
Instead, 16 ensuing Summer party anthems shine Dom Kennedy in the light of an underrated lyricist, an always appreciated comic, and a never-deviating man of arguably too much chill. There are the never-to-cease being bangers like the funk-laden, celebratory O.P.M. and the good-vibe instilling Ice Cream Truck. There are the impossibly cocky, yet humble in their sonic makeup like Come Over and I Love Dom. There are the laid-back blunt passers like Platinum Chanel and Dream To Me. And there are the impeccably West Coast collaborations with artists that do and don’t call home to LA in their daily lives, but are all held eternal by the work of FTWSWL2: Mr. Champagne featuring velour-adorned galactic pimp, Polyester the Saint; New Jeeps folding in Asher Roth & Mikey Rocks; 2mph merging Dom’s lane with that of Southside legend, Big K.R.I.T.; Beats, Hoes and Rhymes – a proper LA anthem with Casey Veggies and Schoolboy Q at the helm.
The point being made is that any and all of the 17 tracks that make up From the Westside, with Love ll aren’t only applicable to everything revolving around the very notion of Summer, but that they inspire Summer itself to spring into action. There are probably scientific studies out there that prove FTWSWL2 makes palm trees grow faster, keeps popsicles cold, and parts clouds. And even if that’s a stretch, the idea that it makes the sun feel warmer on your skin, makes ocean view cocktails taste sweeter, and brings friends together to bask in good times soundtracked by good music, is indisputable. It’s effect in doing so is also unparalleled by any collective work from any other artist.
And that’s why Dom Kennedy’s From the Westside, with Love ll is the greatest Summer album ever made.