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Second Nature

“The juices are flowing and if I’m feeling creative, I’m going to go with it,” says Columbus rapper Dominique Larue about her recent prolific streak. Our interview had been bandied about over a two week span—and now we were finally wrapping it up on the phone, instead of in person, because the night before Larue [...]
Kevin J. Elliott



“The juices are flowing and if I’m feeling creative, I’m going to go with it,” says Columbus rapper Dominique Larue about her recent prolific streak. Our interview had been bandied about over a two week span—and now we were finally wrapping it up on the phone, instead of in person, because the night before Larue was deep in another studio session. Keeping busy has become priority for Larue.

“It just happens. Everybody knows now that I eat ‘shrooms, so that was something that got me feeling creative again. There was a time when I thought I would never write again, but when I finally did, it became second nature.”

With a 2018 that has already included two stellar hip-hop releases in E.I.F. (Everything is Fine) and I’m Smiling Because I Hate Everything, Larue is gearing up to keep the momentum of her prolific streak a healthy constant. That would be in stark contrast to the last two years of Larue’s life, with sudden death of her partner Sheron “Nes Wordz” Colbert in 2017 and an attempt at suicide and the recovery that came with it—all well-documented in a revealing Columbus Alive interview—Larue had nowhere left to go but up. As cliche as that last cliche may look on paper, “up” is the one thing that has been focused on in what’s become a “renaissance” moment in projecting her craft.

The soothsaying predictions that appear in “Escape” and “Fix Me,” which detail Larue’s struggles with depression, addiction, and shuffling off the mortal coil, were written before her inward spiral. Listening now they emerge as personal triumphs, proof then that she would make rap fun again even if it was at the expense of her own self-deprecation and diary. The lesson and language is brutal on this year’s releases, but a reconnection with a lifelong friend, Jack Burton, aka The Audio Unit (and Larue’s go-to producer), made for music that was built for the party, as much as the confessional.

The incredible beat that mutates out of a Brazilian samba sample on “Goodbye,” a frisson-worthy ode to Crucial Conflict’s seminal “Hay,” or the sneaky Steely Dan breaks, show a creative duo firing on all cylinders. Even the darker moments are both guided by old-school aesthetics—found in the club hooks of “Strippers @ My Funeral”—and pushing forward sonically, sometimes just on the velocity of Larue’s evolution as an emcee. Invigorated is an understatement.

Given that we spoke just days after a contentious Supreme Court confirmation and were living in a city where reverberations of Trump’s America, a questionable police force, and gender inequality, are being felt in situ, I asked if politics have factored into her newest work. After all, hip-hop, as an art form, has always been a vehicle to air the dirty laundry of our republic. But for Larue, the personal is political—there’s little time to worry about everything else.

“As far as politics right now, I’m not feeling it,” says Larue. “I’m a registered voter and all those things, but I’ve got so many personal stressors that I deal with on a day-to-day level, that if I add on the bullshit that’s happening in America, it’s going to make my life even worse.

It’s really touch and go. It’s heating up with the midterms and the Kavanaugh confirmation, but get that out of my face. It ruins us. It doesn’t matter who is in office, at the end of the day America is still racist. I’m still dealing with the same day-to-day problems.”

How that will continue to be reflected in the music depends solely on making her career her business. Currently, beyond those two releases, Larue has many irons on the fire. She’s about to release a collaborative project with Metro, a re-release of the overlooked gem Help Me I’m Poor, and continue a hardcore campaign to license her music. If you scour the internet you’ll notice Larue has had much luck in finding her songs in television, film, advertising, and video games. An ambition for Larue is to one day soon start writing and managing other artists, which would be a boon for anyone involved given she’s “one of the best spitter’s in the city.” If the confidence she exudes in thralling “Escape,” is any indication of what tomorrow’s Larue is going sound like, a crossover to stardom is inevitable.

“I want to be walking around Columbus with a Grammy, and no one knows me,” says Larue when asked to define the ultimate success from the perspective of an artist who has kept a profile in Columbus and beyond that has always been on the verge. “I’m a single mom, with a son, and with bills to pay. I just want to get paid to make my music.”

You can hear Dominique Larue and the Audio Unit’s E.I.F. and I’m Smiling Because I Hate Everything on all major streaming platforms. Her next show is Friday, November 2nd at the Basement.

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Clintonville shop earns “America’s Best” award

614now Staff



Clintonville's Johnny Velo Bikes has been named one of the top bike shops in the nation according to an industry source.

Johnny Velo Bikes has received an America’s Best Bike Shop award from the National Bike Dealers Association (NBDA). The shop is among only six in Ohio to earn the distinction.

“It's an honor to be recognized as one of the best bike shops out of more 4,000 shops in the country," owner John Robinson said in a statement. "We've only been in business for two years, but we've worked very hard to create a professional and friendly atmosphere for our customers."

The NBDA's America's Best Bike Shops program identifies and rewards bicycle stores in North America against the highest performance standards in the industry. The awards are issued based on an application and secret shopper process, with shops scored on layout and design, staff and management, training, marketing, and community involvement.

Contact John Robinson at 614-333-0012 or [email protected] for all your bike-related needs. For details on the shop, visit

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Arts & Culture

Maker’s Space: Kato Mitchell




Following an initial disastrous experience with attempting to refurbish a personal pair of sneakers with acrylic paint years ago, a friend noticed Mitchell’s persistence, aiding him to perfect his craft. Though he began with primarily focusing on restoring his friends’ worn-down sneakers, Mitchell’s business, Work The Custom, has expanded to designing apparel in any range.

Just months after being highlighted as cleat designer for Braxton Miller’s Charg1ng summer football camp in Dayton, Mitchell’s clientele has accrued some big names in the sports world, and he has no intention of stopping. (614) caught up with Mitchell to learn more about Work The Custom, and his hope for reconstructing apparel in Columbus and beyond.

(614): When did you decide to transition from football to design?
KM: I’ve always had a passion for drawing and art, [but] I just lost my vision when I took actual art classes and didn’t like what we were doing. After college, I didn’t get any NFL calls, [and] I was trying to figure out what else I would love to do every day, and fell back in love with art.

What was your leap from “this thing I do” to the thing to do? How do you promote your work? After I realized how many people wanted to show who they really are with art, and I was someone who could help do that, that was my ironing point. I promote my work through Instagram and Facebook for the most part, but I do go to sneaker events from time-to-time to pass out business cards.

Is this your primary gig, side gig or hobby? How did it come to be?
It’s my side gig for the moment, but trying to grow and learn to make it my full-time career. I had a pair of shoes that were beat up and didn’t want to buy more so I painted them, but one of my friends taught me the game and how to prosper from it.

What life changes do you feel have propelled your work? How have your customizations evolved? Playing football for a place like Ohio State and doing work for Buckeyes in the NFL and for the OSU football team has helped grow my work faster and further. My customs have evolved just by me growing up and seeing different things, learning different things, practicing everyday, and being able to adapt.

Do you have a specific audience that you want to appeal to?
I want my work to be for everyone. My work can range from baby shoes to youth high school players of all sports, to walls of homeowners and businesses, to shoes for pro athletes.

What ingredients come together to make Columbus a fertile ground for makers, designers and creatives? Columbus is a growing market and very friendly. It has new businesses starting every week and everyone is trying to help everyone else.

What’s your six-word creative story?

Work The Custom is coming fast!

To get in contact with Mitchell, or to see more designs, follow him on Instagram at @katowork19.

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Twitter Reacts: Bucks score #1 spot in first official playoff rankings

Mike Thomas



The first official rankings for the 2019 College Football Playoff were announced yesterday, and the Buckeyes have landed at the top of the pile. The ranking marks the first time the Buckeyes have held the #1 spot since the inception of the playoff system.

Needless to say, social media is abuzz with reactions to this historic moment for Ryan Day's squad. Enjoy this roundup of reactions to the announcement from around Twitterverse, and Go Bucks!
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