Wonderland.

PROFILE: DOMINIQUE YOUNG UNIQUE

Talking sweet and looking fine: F-L-A’s rap girl supreme Dominique young Unique has a lot to holler about 

Dominique Young Unique

Blue denim bikini top by DSquared2, olive green and yellow mink fur coat by Prada and gold necklace models own

Dominique Young Unique wants you to dance like you’ve never danced before. That’s an order. “When people hear my music, I want them get on their feet and start moving to the beat straight away. I want to make them to feel good,” she says in her honeyed Southern drawl.

Right now, the 23-year-old Tampa Bay-raised rapstress is in the middle of a whirlwind promotion tour for her debut single “Throw it Down”. Which, if you haven’t heard already, is a speedy but seamless mash-up of dance, electro and trap, produced by beat veterans DJ Fresh and Banga. “We did that track in a day,” she reveals, giggling. “I’m so excited by it. I wanted it to be an epic club banger, just fun and different from what anybody else is doing out there, that’s really important to me.”

Ferocious and unabashedly honest, Unique’s signature staccato rhymes are loaded with authenticity and edge. “I ain’t trying to get attention cuz’ I rap my pain. Coming hard to the game everythin’ going to change,” she spits on the track. Unique’s music draws on her less-than-rosy upbringing in Florida’s notoriously gritty Robles Park projects. “When I look back I feel so frustrated. It was a struggle, you know? My dad went to jail and at one point we were living out of a car, it was real hard.”

Music manifested itself as an escape, igniting a fire of ambition in Unique that burns to this day. “I started writing verses when I was 12 and would literally rap to anyone in my neighbourhood that would listen,” she says. But it wasn’t until she was 17 that local rap group Yo Majesty introduced her to London-based producer David Alexander. “After hearing my stuff, he wanted me to start laying down tracks with him straight away, so I flew to London and we got to it. That was the start of a beautiful thing.”

Dominique Young Unique2

Blue, red and white cotton shirt and blue leather skirt both by Kenzo, multicolour fur bag by Fendi and earrings models own

Together, dovetailing his house-inspired beats with her spitfire flow, the duo honed a winning formula. The three much-buzzed Eps that culminated – Domination, Glamorous Touch and Stupid Pretty – landed Unique gigs on international stages alongside hip hop heavyweights such as N.E.R.D, Big Boi and Gucci Mane. “At first people were always quick to compare me to other Dirty South female rappers out there, but I’m different to them,” she says. “They’ve all got their thing or whatever, but I’m me.”

It can’t hurt that Unique also happens to be a total betty, too – with undulating, waist-skimming curls, almond-shaped eyes and legs that go on forever. “Yeah, I’ve done some modelling and stuff,” she remarks coyly, referring to a 2011 shoot in American Vogue and a 10-page story in InStyle magazine.  “It’s cool, I love fashion, but it’s not that important to my music really,” she says, before adding. “I don’t really have any favourite designers or anything like that, but I do like to wear lots of juicy, bright colours, that makes me feel happy.”

Unique’s second break came in 2012, when Unique was signed to Sony Records, leading to a string of guest appearances on hit singles such as last summer’s base-trembling earworm “Earthquake” by DJ Fresh and megawatt producer, Diplo and Le Youth’s vogue-pop tune, “Dance with Me”. “When Le Youth first played me the record I thought it was kind of weird,” she explains. “But then I jumped on it with a rap verse and it sounded so different and so new. It grew on me.”

The tracks not only gave her the mainstream exposure she needed, but showed her versatility as an artist. “I really want to keep pushing myself and mixing it up,” she attests. “Like Solange Knowles, she tries new things like that, she is one of my favourite artists. Oh god, her voice on ‘Losing You’ is beautiful, it’s real.” Other musical influences include Jay-Z and Kanye West – “Niggas in Paris makes me feel empowered,” she gushes. “Oh and I was into Trina when I was younger, I loved that ‘Million Dollar Girl’ song.”

So, what does Tampa Bay’s hottest star do when she’s not on stage or in the studio? “I just chill with my fiancé and get dinner somewhere nice or take my dogs London and Big Ben for a walk in the park,” says Unique. “Right now, my focus is really on making my first album.” And with that, she starts squealing uncontrollably. “It’s gonna be big!”

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White leather dress with boat detail and white silk scarf both by Ashley Williams and cream patent boots by Miu Miu

Words: Natalie Rigg

PROFILE: DOMINIQUE YOUNG UNIQUE

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