The Koreatown Oddity Gets Personal

Interview with The Koreatown Oddity. The Koreatown Oddity is MC/producer Dominique Purdy. He talked with Adam Fink about his LP Little Dominiques Nosebleed
The Koreatown Oddity photo by Rodd Harris

It’s exceedingly rare to hear an artist that is as fully formed as Dominique Purdy AKA The Koreatown Oddity. The Los Angeles based producer/rapper/comedian and filmmaker has been a creative force in his hometown for the last decade. Besides being one of the leading figures of that city’s underground hip hop community, Purdy has been regularly doing stand up and making mix tapes since he was in junior high school. With the release of his latest album, the wonderful Little Dominiques Nosebleed, The Koreatown Oddity has positioned himself on the world’s stage as a force to be reckoned with. The album is an autobiographical account of Purdy’s childhood growing up in Koreatown and how his experiences there, including two life altering car accidents, shaped himself and his creative pursuits moving forward. The album plays out similar to a novel with each song representing a chapter in the story of his life, painting a picture of his neighbourhood and the people that inhabit it. It showcases Purdy’s deft touch as a producer, songwriter and masterful storyteller. A storyteller with the unique ability to literally put you into his situation and making it all instantly relatable, no matter where you are from. When we catch up with Purdy on the phone in his home in Koreatown, Los Angeles, he describes his artistic process, where he’s come from and where he is going.

“I started putting some of the beats together at the studio in fall of 2017,” Purdy says about the origins of the album. “I’ve been cooking it all up since then, throughout that whole time. Some beats I had already and some raps were already in my head but I had been working through it since then.” As Purdy explains, he already had it in his head that this album was going to be more autobiographical than some of his past releases. “I had it all pretty much mapped out. Before the last record (2017’s Finna Be Past Tense) came out, I already knew what the name of the next record was going to be and knew it was time to do my thing really personally that might not have always been as obvious. I really wanted to put my foot in the stew and create an ensemble of people to tell my story. To really let people feel that side of me.” Little Dominiques Nosebleed really does just that. As Purdy describes the album, it is a bit of a time capsule that a lot of people who grew up in the era can relate to. “The album is of a certain time, like 1984-96, and it’s basically like if young me was a separate person from myself and could tell me about their life. It was definitely a simpler time or at least felt that way.” Purdy goes off on a ton of little details that help to fill in the broader canvas of his story. There’s a moment in the song “Ginkabiloba” where him and his friends are playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nintendo game and the game stops and when the game stops, the song stops dead in it’s track while Purdy and his friends take out the cartridge to blow on it. It’s these little moments that anyone who grew up in that time will find irresistibly true. While Purdy’s other records did have these autobiographical flourishes, he really went all in on this one, so much to the point that friends that he has had his entire life didn’t even know some of these details. “On all my records I reference these things about my life that are very personal,” he explains, “but people I’ve known forever didn’t really know some of these things. It was surprising, especially the stories about the accidents when they would come up, friends were like “I didn’t know that happened”. It made me think if people knew these things then they could really understand where I am coming from artistically through my production and rap.”

These car accidents were two specific moments that Purdy has since described as “the origins of his supernatural powers and spiritual awakening”. It was these two experiences that have allowed Purdy to become not only the artist he is today but the person he became. “The first car accident was like what made me have to deal with going in and out of the hospital all the time,” he explains. Purdy was 8 years old when this happened and it is harrowingly detailed in the song “Little Dominiques Nosebleed Part 1”. The accident left Purdy with a constant stream of nosebleeds that would come out of nowhere. “After that first accident happened it was like me knowing that I am different now, that this is not normal. I’d be outside playing and the people would come up and say “oh you got blood on your face”. There would be a lot of nights where I would wake up at three am, my mom waking me up because I was bleeding everywhere. It would clog up my nose, it was crazy.” Then a few years after that Purdy was hit by a car right in front of his house. “I was laying there on the ground and it was weird because I never felt any pain. Thinking back on it I can remember feeling the impact of the car and I’m laying on the ground and it was like I floated out of my body and I’m seeing everyone from the neighbourhood standing around me because they were all out there getting something from the Ice Cream Truck.” This second accident has really influenced Purdy’s life in a profoundly spiritual way. “I guess they say when people die they get this like DMT kind of high off of it. I think that was what it was. I’ve ever done it but I’ve heard people talk about it and it was like this real euphoric feeling I had lying there. I was hearing this force talking to me about something I have to let you see now,” he explains. “Whether I was conscious or not I would be in these situations and I always felt protected and I am always watching out for it because I am paying attention to the signs because after that accident, the thing was I am always paying attention to my surroundings. My pops is mad spiritual and I kind of get that from him. That’s why I describe it as a spiritual awakening. I’m constantly paying attention and in tune to what’s happening around me like Neo or something,” he says with a chuckle.

Purdy’s parents played a huge part on his musical influences growing up. His mom was a big hip hop fan and besides getting her tapes and listening to them all the time, she was also a part of that community. “She’s the first person that turned me on to hip hop. I listened to her cassettes and I was always with her when she was out. She took me to Donald D’s house and he’s recording with Ice T and she would take me to like these big trading posts with people selling all kinds of things. Those like 90’s bootleg Bart Simpsons shirts and big medallions and I was always in the mix of it with her. It’s pretty funny. A lot of people don’t have that so I feel lucky to have that experience. I mean, she wrote and recorded me a rap song when I was four called “Dominique”.” Purdy’s mom plays herself on the album in the song “Little Dominiques Nosebleed Part 1”. The song details that first car accident, that she was also involved in, and as Purdy explains, he just got her in the studio and wanted her to react to a recreation of the original situation. “I don’t even write anything down, it’s all in my head,” Purdy says, “so when I’m creating I know this is where I want to go and I got my mom in and she’s yelling on the track and she understood exactly what to do, go back in your mind to that day and just react when I say go. My mom is pretty active, she’s pretty cool.” Purdy also explains that his father had a good insight into the album and how bringing up these stories from the past could be a catalyst to allow Purdy, as an artist and a person, to let these things go and move on to a new chapter of his life in the most cathartic way possible. “Yeah, what’s crazy is my dad said, when we were talking about it before the record was even fully done, and he was saying I hope that you putting this out and talking about all this gives you something inside yourself. He was telling me “I remember when we would be in the car and if someone didn’t stop right away at a light or a four way stop you would jolt.” I guess I was doing it all the time. I don’t really remember it being anything weird but I guess it was a natural reflex and I must’ve seemed pretty traumatized from my parents perspective.”

With all of his childhood experiences now on tape and Purdy able to share these experiences with anyone that listens to the record, he is able to not forget these things but move ahead as an artist. The album came out on June 19th and the significance of that date isn’t lost on Purdy, in fact it’s quite the opposite. “The trip is the timing of everything being finished and coming out when it did. With my face on the cover of the record on Juneteenth in the time that we are living in right now. To look like that on the cover, I feel like it’s a big moment for myself and for the culture.” The album does feel like it is part of a bigger cultural shift. It’s a warm, funny and thoughtful account of what it is like growing up black in America. Little Dominiques Nosebleed is made up of so many little personal moments that when seen, or heard, together add up to something that is infinitely relatable to everyone who hears it regardless of where you are from. To hear and revel in these shared experiences is only something that can help bring us all together as people and besides the timing of it, it is an artistic statement that Dominique Purdy from Koreatown, Los Angeles should be proud of and one that will be rewarding to the rest of us with each listen and one that will keep us eagerly awaiting to hear what he does next.

interview by Adam Fink

order Little Dominiques Nosebleed by The Koreantown Oddity here