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“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

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“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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Coronavirus

Breakaway Music Festival will not take place in 2020; to return in 2021

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Those in the music festival community have continued to rally their broken spirits behind live streams and classic archival sets in lieu of the live event industry being put on indefinite hold. 

With each passing day, though, hopes for any large concert gathering happening in 2020 seem incredibly bleak and unrealistic.

News from Midwest college market concert and music festival promoter Prime Social Group on Thursday further confirmed the modern hippie’s greatest fear: a summer void of camping out in otherworldy open fields and following their favorite musicians across the country. 

PSG operates a network of festivals under the Breakaway Music handle that take place annually in Columbus; Charlotte, North Carolina; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Washington D.C.; Nashville; and San Diego. The promotion company made the difficult decision to cancel all six of its 2020 editions of the EDM and pop-focused Breakaway Music Festival with a fully-committed plan to return in 2021. The decision was made due to health and safety concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tickets to the event can be carried over for the 2021 edition of BMF. For those who choose this option, you’ll receive an extra ticket and merch bundle. PSG will also provide refunds if transferring tickets for 2021 is not an option.

Columbus has been making its claim as a music festival destination over the past few years. Breakaway, along with events like Sonic Temple, Wonderbus, and Buckeye Country Superfest, has been bringing quality acts to Columbus consistently. The festival’s presence will be greatly missed this upcoming August.

“Now more than ever, we could use that special sense of unity achieved through live events and music festivals,” said Prime Social managing partner Zach Ruben. “We cannot wait to Leave it All Behind and make memories with all of you again. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind to one another.”

In the meantime, Breakaway plans to release exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from past editions, new digital content, and various live streams. Visit breakawaymusicfestival.com to keep up to date with what PSG has in store.

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Community

Columbus clears first major hurdle for hyperloop technology

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One of the original sins of the initial Columbus city planners was not implementing a subway system. Public transportation in the capital city is usually a mixed bag of uncertainties, but Columbus may just be getting the consolation prize that they’ve been waiting for since 2012.

On Wednesday, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) released a report that detailed cities with a feasible location for hyperloop technology. The locations listed in the final “Midwest Connect” Hyperloop Feasibility Study included routes connecting Columbus to Chicago (via Lima, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Indiana) and Pittsburgh.

The price to travel from Columbus to Chicago or Columbus to Pittsburgh is very practical. At an estimated cost of $0.20 per mile fare cost, a trip to Chi-town will run you about $60 while it’ll only cost you $33 to visit Mister Rogers’ neighborhood.

Columbus became a hotspot for hyperloop technology beginning in 2018. The proposed transportation technology has the potential to “spur economic growth, generate opportunities for development, and create new opportunities for people and businesses in the Midwest megaregion.”

Some of the additional findings from the study that strengthened the hyperloop case for Columbus included straight track alignment for optimal speeds, no current passenger rail service, and exponential population and employment growth.

The long-term potential economic benefits of the Hyperloop as outlined by the MORPC include:

  • 1.9 billion automobile drivers converted to hyperloop passengers 
  • 2.4 million tons ($126 million) of reduced CO2 emissions
  • 450 million commercial truck vehicle hours traveled eliminated 
  • $300 billion in overall economic benefits
    • $19 billion directly from transportation benefits

Although the findings in the study don’t guarantee that a hyperloop will eventually run through Columbus, it’s a major step in the right direction.

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Arts & Culture

Hold that corndog: Two popular summer events latest to cancel

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Adding to the misery of this persistent rain is yet another blow to regular summertime programming. Both the Ohio State Fair and Jazz & Rib Fest announced their cancellations today but with a promise to be back in 2021.

The Jazz & Rib Fest was scheduled be held July 24-26 at Bicentennial Park and Genoa Park on the Scioto Mile. The event brings tens of thousands of locals together for a mix of Jazz music and barbecue from traveling teams from across the nation.

But by far the biggest cancellation of the day is the State Fair which sees nearly a million people during its almost two-week run.

“After careful thought and deliberation, we have decided to cancel the Ohio State Fair. Knowing how easily the virus spreads in large groups, we believe it is the safest path forward for the health and safety of all Ohioans.” Andy Doehrel, chair of the Ohio Expositions Commission said in a press release. “The financial ramifications of hosting a reduced-capacity Fair would be too great, and we need to protect the great Ohio State Fair for future generations.”

This adds to the growing list of summer events that have been cancelled for the year or postponed to a later date. These include:

  • ComFest - moved to September 2020
  • Columbus Arts Festival - cancelled
  • Pride - moved to October 3, 2020
  • The Memorial Tournament - moved to July 13-19, 2020
  • Red, White & Boom! - cancelled
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