Nominated by Solange Knowles for V69 THE DISCOVERY ISSUE, SPRING 2011 PREVIEW

“Soooooo unique” is how emerging Tampa rap talent Dominique Young Unique chooses, when pressed, to describe her music. Though it sounds like a gimmick (and very well might be), all signs toward it also being the gospel truth. Ever since Unique blew up the Internet with her breakthrough track “Show My Ass.” the rap community has been enamored with the sassy swag and swift rhymes of the Deep South’s very own hip hop princess—who tends to refer to herself quite often as “Cinderella” (or “,” a nonexistent web address).

However, it is important to remember that even Cinderella’s life wasn’t always a fairy tale. “Growing up in Tampa was kinda rough,” says 19-year-old Unique from home, where she’s readying for the arrival of her producer so they can begin to work on new singles for the new year. “I grew up in the hood, and things started to get hard when I turned about 16. I started getting into fights with girls. Like, if you’re from a different hood, girls just wanna fight you. I just wanted to make music.”

Luckily, a friend introduced Unique to British producer David Alexander early on in the game, and she recorded her first single with him when she was just 14. A few years later, she explains, “My parents were struggling so I called him and said, ‘You need to help me.’ This was my career! So he flew me to London in 2009 and that’s where I played my very first show.”

When Unique released her Domination mixtape last year, critics responded fervently to her roadrunner-paced, raspy rap dirges, often recorded over high aggressive, danceable beats. “Tampa loves slow music,” laments the energetic MC. Every time someone comes out with a song, they go and slow down the track. I don’t get why they do that. I like things to be fast.”

Naturally, the fast, flashy, and Google-able Unique is focused on the future. “Music in 2011 is going to get huge,” she declares. “The industry is going to get our generation, and more young artists will have music out there. Like Willow Smith! I want to work with Willow Smith. I want to work with Nicki, Trina, and Keyshia. I want the whole industry.” Patrik Sandberg

Photography Barnaby Roper
Styling Keegan Singh

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