Photo by Hillary Jones.

Second Nature

“The juices are flowing and if I’m feeling creative, I’m going to go with it,” says Columbus rapper Dominique Larue about her recent prolific streak. Our interview had been bandied about over a two week span—and now we were finally wrapping it up on the phone, instead of in person, because the night before Larue was deep in another studio session. Keeping busy has become priority for Larue.

“It just happens. Everybody knows now that I eat ‘shrooms, so that was something that got me feeling creative again. There was a time when I thought I would never write again, but when I finally did, it became second nature.”

With a 2018 that has already included two stellar hip-hop releases in E.I.F. (Everything is Fine) and I’m Smiling Because I Hate Everything, Larue is gearing up to keep the momentum of her prolific streak a healthy constant. That would be in stark contrast to the last two years of Larue’s life, with sudden death of her partner Sheron “Nes Wordz” Colbert in 2017 and an attempt at suicide and the recovery that came with it—all well-documented in a revealing Columbus Alive interview—Larue had nowhere left to go but up. As cliche as that last cliche may look on paper, “up” is the one thing that has been focused on in what’s become a “renaissance” moment in projecting her craft.

The soothsaying predictions that appear in “Escape” and “Fix Me,” which detail Larue’s struggles with depression, addiction, and shuffling off the mortal coil, were written before her inward spiral. Listening now they emerge as personal triumphs, proof then that she would make rap fun again even if it was at the expense of her own self-deprecation and diary. The lesson and language is brutal on this year’s releases, but a reconnection with a lifelong friend, Jack Burton, aka The Audio Unit (and Larue’s go-to producer), made for music that was built for the party, as much as the confessional.

The incredible beat that mutates out of a Brazilian samba sample on “Goodbye,” a frisson-worthy ode to Crucial Conflict’s seminal “Hay,” or the sneaky Steely Dan breaks, show a creative duo firing on all cylinders. Even the darker moments are both guided by old-school aesthetics—found in the club hooks of “Strippers @ My Funeral”—and pushing forward sonically, sometimes just on the velocity of Larue’s evolution as an emcee. Invigorated is an understatement.

Given that we spoke just days after a contentious Supreme Court confirmation and were living in a city where reverberations of Trump’s America, a questionable police force, and gender inequality, are being felt in situ, I asked if politics have factored into her newest work. After all, hip-hop, as an art form, has always been a vehicle to air the dirty laundry of our republic. But for Larue, the personal is political—there’s little time to worry about everything else.

“As far as politics right now, I’m not feeling it,” says Larue. “I’m a registered voter and all those things, but I’ve got so many personal stressors that I deal with on a day-to-day level, that if I add on the bullshit that’s happening in America, it’s going to make my life even worse.

It’s really touch and go. It’s heating up with the midterms and the Kavanaugh confirmation, but get that out of my face. It ruins us. It doesn’t matter who is in office, at the end of the day America is still racist. I’m still dealing with the same day-to-day problems.”

How that will continue to be reflected in the music depends solely on making her career her business. Currently, beyond those two releases, Larue has many irons on the fire. She’s about to release a collaborative project with Metro, a re-release of the overlooked gem Help Me I’m Poor, and continue a hardcore campaign to license her music. If you scour the internet you’ll notice Larue has had much luck in finding her songs in television, film, advertising, and video games. An ambition for Larue is to one day soon start writing and managing other artists, which would be a boon for anyone involved given she’s “one of the best spitter’s in the city.” If the confidence she exudes in thralling “Escape,” is any indication of what tomorrow’s Larue is going sound like, a crossover to stardom is inevitable.

“I want to be walking around Columbus with a Grammy, and no one knows me,” says Larue when asked to define the ultimate success from the perspective of an artist who has kept a profile in Columbus and beyond that has always been on the verge. “I’m a single mom, with a son, and with bills to pay. I just want to get paid to make my music.”

You can hear Dominique Larue and the Audio Unit’s E.I.F. and I’m Smiling Because I Hate Everything on all major streaming platforms. Her next show is Friday, November 2nd at the Basement.

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