In the world of music, consistency is seen as stewing in a sound for too long by most, jogging in place while new trends come and go through the supercharged portals of the internet. Domo Genesis cut his teeth within the ranks of Odd Future in the early 2010s, standing out among the genre-mashing oddballs simply as a goofy guy who rapped really well. His output following the Alchemist-produced mixtape No Idols in 2012—namely his 2016 debut studio album Genesis—saw him testing out his ever-sharpening rap skills over new sonic backdrops that endeared him to everyone from Evidence and Hi-Tek to Sha Money XL and Cam O’bi.
If Genesis was a brief moment of lushly constructed doubtfulness, the two-tape run consisting of 2017’s Red Corolla and this year’s Evidence team-up, Aren’t U Glad You’re U?, were the first bits of re-orienting toward answering to himself above all others.
“I’m the kind of person who feels that there’s always something to prove to myself,” Domo Genesis tells me over the phone. “I’m not competing with outside forces. If I can keep getting better than the last one, no one can tell me anything.”
That brand of self-confidence is the wind beneath his wings, a lift generated through a year of highs and lows. Working with Evidence and getting a shout-out from Phonte at the end of his excellent sophomore album, No News Is Good News, were surefire motivators in 2018, especially in the wake of the personal tragedy that followed. Genesis’ grandfather checked into a hospital a few weeks before the untimely passing of friend and collaborator Mac Miller this past September, events that helped reaffirm the artist's zeal for music.
That zeal has brought us Facade Records, a sleek six-track project of fiery raps and funky slappers, courtesy of Los Angeles production duo Mike & Keys. “They pointed out the fact that reality is a facade now. Everybody’s all glitched in the matrix, so reality looks like everyone’s faking it now,” he explains. “It stemmed from that and everything I was doing, and getting away from the reality of the music, and it all just came together at the right time.”
Domo is wearing his realness on his sleeve throughout the project, but the playful energy of these songs is the real gas in the tank. He trades double-time barbs with Buddy over the skittering beat of “Consecutive Normal Punches” and finds brutal new pockets inside the wavy walls of “CreepShow.” The steady funk of lead single “Online” fits the Genesis mold, but Domo is coming at the necks of pretenders with vigor: “I can see right through it when it’s done wrong / And I can end it all like Thanos with the glove on.” It’s less a reinvention and more a retooling, even if the cuts are deep.
In other words, bro is back in the game and fired up. He tells me that a project as simultaneously intense and fun as Facade Records is the “appetizer sampler” for his studio album follow-up to Genesis, which is slowly taking form. If these are just the appetizers, we should all be ready to eat up the fruits of Domo Genesis’ consistency with a smile.
Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: Where did the name Facade Records come from?
Domo Genesis: That’s funny 'cause to Mike & Keys, the dudes who had a hand in every single song on there, it was a thing they always used to say and I thought it was funny. They pointed out the fact that reality is a facade now. Everybody’s all glitched in the matrix, so reality looks like everyone’s faking it now. Say, for example, somebody came through talking about how great their weed was, but they’d be like, “Bruh...it’s a facade.” It stemmed from that and everything I was doing and getting away from the reality of the music, and it all just came together at the right time.
How did you first get in touch with Mike & Keys?
Funny enough, I met them through Casey Veggies a long time ago. I was randomly on Fairfax on some 2014 swag and Casey told me he knew some dudes who were in the studio that I should roll through and work with. They played a hard-ass beat as soon as I got there and we banged out a song that day. I say that just to say that the chemistry was amazing off the bat. I’ve never jumped into the studio with producers and we were cutting records in 10 minutes. I knew I wanted to work with them again after they had a beat on my album Genesis 'cause I love their sound and wanted to challenge myself to push my sound a bit after hearing what they did with Nipsey [Hussle] and Buddy.
We kept working, and there would be certain records where they would tell me that I’m trying too hard and that it felt like a facade. Whether it’s in a song or a video, just be yourself. That was where the melting pot of the record started and where it became extremely fun. I started letting the business aspect of it come into play more than enjoying making music, and Mike would always preach to me about having the music as the product and building the inspiration around that because if you believe in it, it’s gonna work out. They’ve been such a help on helping me trust myself and what I’m doing. You can feel the relationship I have with them in the music. It felt effortless to me.
What exactly makes social media so toxic in 2018?
It’s a weird question because there’s a lot of factors to it. I can’t even explain it, really. Social media is a monster, low-key. There’s people out here getting new depression symptoms that never existed before. I’m reading this shit and realizing that this shit is not fake, bro. It’s like you said, people realize they can get a small bit of attention for things and they just ran with that.
How has social media affected you?
I’ve always been a really goofy person, so my personality bleeds over into the world of social media pretty easily. I’d say the only thing that really affected me is putting me in a box of comparison between the speed I’m moving versus how other people are moving. People need to work on their dependency because when you’re on [social media], it makes you feel like you’re not doing anything, so people feel the need to fake what they’re doing.
I personally have a hard time being fake. I have a hard time putting on a mask and being something that’s not just to keep up with the current. The best thing about social media and life, in general, is that you get to decide what you want to do with it. Instead of keeping up with speed, create your own speed. People keeping up have a tendency to forget what feels natural to them. We just gotta remember to be human, dawg. Niggas ain’t being human anymore. We go through every emotion. Things aren’t always fire, but when shit stink, you put it in the toilet and flush it.
2018 has been a hard year for you.
I don’t wanna paint the whole thing as a bad year because it’s been a beautiful year, too. It’s a lot of unexpected big bumps I hit. My grandfather was in the hospital for a bit due to some complications, and he was one of the people who showed me how to be a man out here. He got better and I used that as momentum to get back in the studio. I was in a great vibe, and then, unfortunately, I got the news about Mac [Miller]. I honestly didn’t know how I was gonna bounce off that news, but I had enough good people in my corner who had me thinking in the right way. As unfortunate as it is, I just try to use it as inspiration because it’s what he would’ve wanted. Especially where that facade concept is concerned, he was fully tapped out of the simulation. The stories people have of him are exactly the same. It doesn’t matter if it was John Mayer or some dude who hung with him one time, they all caught how genuine he was. Everything you heard and saw about him, none of that was fake. I’ve been trying to turn that into good energy and so far, it’s working.
You’ve stayed true to yourself, musically, over these past seven years, yet you’re clearly open to new challenges. What, if anything, do you feel you still have to prove as an emcee?
I’m the kind of person who feels that there’s always something to prove to myself. I’m not competing with outside forces. If I can keep getting better than the last one, no one can tell me anything. There have been times where some of my friends will ask if I should be on somebody else’s wave and I tell them that everyone’s path is different and it’s about choosing the right one. I trust that every step I’ve taken—good or bad—has been a success because everything happens for a reason, bro. I love what I do and my trajectory and want to keep proving to me that I’m doing the right thing.
That’s why I love these songs so much. It really feels like I’m back in the basement rapping into mics not because anybody will give a fuck, but simply because I thought I was fresh. Nothing is keeping me more fired up than me. Whatever Michael Jordan Secret Stuff I’m drinking, it’s working.
Where do you see this trajectory leading?
I’m just focused on turning the energy I have into something sustainable. I do that by being around good energy, so I’ll be working with Mike & Keys still; I go over there every day. I have a lot of shit lined up that I wanna do. I love music and it’ll always be a part of me, but I don’t wanna just rap forever. I have some little things rolling out soon that I wanna turn into business opportunities. I wanna act, I wanna get into some kind of scoring situation, but right now I really wanna rap. I also wanna show the world artists that I’m in love with at some point and eventually use my music as a platform for other people I love that people don’t know about just yet. I’m just in love with this vibe, so I wanna go marry it and honeymoon for the rest of my life.
How does it feel to have your first project out on a streaming service since 2016?
I don’t feel no pressure behind it. It doesn’t feel on a different scale, I just trust the music. I don’t even have crazy expectations for it to blow. I don’t care about that. I was ready to make music and be in the studio and get back to what I was doing. I just wanted it to be out, however it got out. I just want people to be updated to where my mind is. I was supposed to wait until the album came out to drop this, but I really wanted to have something beforehand for the people who still believe in me. We’re still in this gym punching the fuck out of this boxing bag. I just want people to know to look out for me in 2025 [Laughs]. Right now you sleep, but in 2025 you’re all gonna be awake. Just wait on it.
I appreciate the seven-year head start.