When an artistic soul is dealt a rough hand, they turn it into something beautiful. Growing up in Tampa’s infamous Robles Park, Dominique Young Unique (born Dominique Lashawn Clark) has taken her experiences and stepped into the rap game. Her art has taken her from the Florida projects to studios in London. And now she’s back stateside, ready to take over.
With a style and sound uniquely her own, she seamlessly mixes EDM, hip-hop, and pop to tell her inspiring story. Dom’s newest single, “Karate” is a fun, millennial version of everyone’s ’70s favorite “Kung Fu Fighting.” The catchy lyrics and upbeat tempo makes “Karate” the earworm we’ve been waiting for. She and Disney alum, Mandy Jiroux (The Miley and Mandy Show), have teamed up as an ass-kicking crime duo. What are they fighting for? Love, of course.
Dom isn’t letting where she came from define her, but rather, honoring it with her music and success. We caught up recently with the young rapper after one of her trips to London to talk about her passion and what drives it, “Karate,” and what is waiting for her in 2018.
Tell us how you ended up being involved in music at such a young age.
I grew up in Tampa, Florida, in the projects. Myself, my siblings, and my cousins, we all sang in the choir. I had a friend that I would write songs with, I was about 11 or 12 then. But she wanted to model, and I thought I wanted to be a model with her. I asked my dad to take me to her modeling agency, and when he was just about to pay the agency I stopped him and said: “I don’t want to model, I want to be a rapper.” He was basically like, “could you please make up your mind!”
Luckily you stopped him in time! What was your next step?
So instead he paid for me to get into the Tampa studios, and that’s when things got serious. Hearing my voice on those tracks is what was so inspiring. That’s when I really started to write music. I’m just a girl from Tampa whose career started at the age of 17. It started when I flew out to London.
What inspires your music?
What inspires my music is my struggle. I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve seen a lot as a young girl. Growing up in the hood, I’ve seen people shot and killed. We’ve lived in a car for a couple of days, it was hard. That’s what inspires me. My music is the get out for me and my family. That’s what inspires me to write.
I’ve noticed the sound of your music is always evolving. How would you describe your sound?
I definitely bring in the EDM that I heard in London. I grew up on that. Now, I want to expand my sound and do something different. Right now, I would say it’s a mix of urban and pop.
You can definitely hear those elements in your new single “Karate.”
Oh my god, that song was so fun. I remember the producer sent me 10 or 15 different beats to listen to, and that one beat I fell in love with. It felt like the song was already written. I just loved it. I had flown out to LA to record another track, but I told them, “listen, I really want to record this other track.” They asked if I knew what I’d sing about on the track, and I said, “no, but I feel like it’s already written.” So we sat down and started working on it. I kept thinking, “who would be perfect to sing the chorus?” That’s when Mandy Jiroux came to mind. It’s a very fun song. It’s about love and having fun in a relationship. It was also inspired by the “Kung Fu Fighting” track. We wanted to put a new twist on a song like that.
What’s next for you?
Next year, we are definitely going to give “Karate” the push it deserves. I’m looking forward to touring, getting a few more singles out there, and focusing on an album.
You’ve been very successful at following your dream. Do you have any advice for others that might struggle with that?
Yeah, don’t lose focus. People like to give up and forget what they’re working hard for. Always follow your dream, no matter how long it takes. You have to give it your best, and give it your all.