Two years ago, Dominique Purdy, better known as Koreatown Oddity, torched the werewolf mask he wore during his shows. “I haven’t been performing with it [since 2017] and ain’t nobody says shit,” Purdy jokes. “I got more hair on my face and more hair on my head. Maybe they thought I had the wolf head-on for real.” Little Dominique’s Nosebleed (Stones Throw), the latest album from the independent Los Angeles-based rapper, is the first with his face on the cover. Fittingly, it’s also his most personal and profound.
Little Dominique’s Nosebleed is a memoir scored by Purdy’s progressive beats, his sincere and sometimes hilarious look in the rearview mirror as he rolls into the latter half of his 30s. He raps conversationally, delivering insightful punchlines with a great comedian’s timing as he follows the trail of blood and hospital visits begat by two severe childhood car accidents. He makes detours down the sidestreets of the Koreatown neighborhood he once knew. Between rides in his dad’s car, he savors Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches and corn from the local elote man. It’s a personal history that simultaneously documents the changes of his neighborhood and Los Angeles as a whole. Purdy arrives in the present thankful to be alive, finding gratitude in tax-free weed even as he laments the number of Black men unjustly incarcerated before legalization. The rent is rising, and he still doesn’t have health care, but he has his daughter, health, and art.
Last week, Purdy took a break from celebrating his birthday and watching Sesame Street with his daughter to discuss Little Dominique’s Nosebleed, gentrification in Koreatown, gratitude, and the influence of his late friend and collaborator Ras G, who passed away on July 29 of last year.
You touch on the gentrification of Koreatown on the new album. When did you start to see it accelerate?
I wouldn’t say accelerate. It’s always been happening in bits and pieces… When I walk or drive around here, I trip [about the changes]. Like this little cut I used to walk through after I got off the bus from school is now a big apartment building… Even my dad [saw it]. He used to play where the 10 freeway now is. The history is really deep.
Over here, I always see construction. You know some shit is about to go down when you see the building being bombed on. There’s mad graffiti over here. I don’t think people understand how crazy K-Town is with the graf [graffiti]. But that’s when you know a building is going to get torn down. I mention it on “Kimchi.”
You’ve mentioned the physical traumas at the center of this album in previous work. Why were you compelled to process these to a greater degree with Little Dominique’s Nosebleed?
I wanted people to get more of this story. I’ve mentioned it in pieces on things, but not the full spectrum of how it affected my outlook on the world. I felt that if I gave people the whole story with a little bit more of a history attached to that they will understand a lot more of the previous work and get into that a little more. It’s basically my album to show you every aspect that I can for you to get into this.
“Lap of Luxury” is about reminding yourself to be grateful, to seek gratitude. Where are you finding that these days?
It’s always and it’s everywhere. Every time I kick with my pops, he tells me that this could be the last time that we see each other. It’s kind of a thing that’s just in you. It’s hard to do that sometimes because of everything that happens in the outside world that affects you. But waking up and your health are number one. If you don’t have gratitude for that, that’s on you. For me, I know. Some people got hit by cars as kids and that was it. I know my life was extended for a certain reason, and I choose to see gratitude in that.
You started working on this album back in 2017. Ras G passed about a year ago, about a year before the album dropped—
Last year, I went over to his house—Spacebase—the day after my birthday and brought my daughter because he hadn’t seen her in person yet. We just watched a bunch of YouTube stuff, smoked a blunt, cracked some jokes, and talked about life. It’s pretty crazy when you don’t know that that was the last time you were going to see somebody.
When I look back on it—and I’m always doing that—it was a special time. It was like the only time I went over to his crib and we did not listen to music. He didn’t play a beat or records. I didn’t play anything…. When I look at that, it’s almost like somebody knowing spiritually. He was like, “Let me kick it with my man right quick. Let’s build on this.”
[G] actually gave me some critiques on one of the joints. I changed something on the album completely, a track that he obviously never got to hear the final version of. He’s a part of the album because of that. His voice is also on the song “A Bitch Once Told Me” at the beginning.
Was it difficult to finish the album without G around?
I would just say that it was more motivation to make sure it came out the right way, especially making those changes… It’s still an unreal situation to me. Being with him a few days before really tripped me out. Had I waited a day or two, I would’ve missed him. I’m so grateful that I decided to go the day after my birthday and have that moment before he left the planet. I’m at peace because of that.
Do you still feel his presence in your life?
There are some things we talked about. There’s missions I got to complete, and those are in my mind. For me, with having those missions in my mind, he’s always going to be here.