Born In: Los Angeles
Date of Interview: October 2020
Age When Interviewed: 45
Interviewed by: Tiffany Wickliffe
Dominick Wickliffe is a highly respected and decorated West-Coast lyricist. The LA born artist has worked with the industry's finest and continues to make his mark on Hip Hop. Dominick has beaten all odds with the help of discipline and undeniable talent. He has dedicated himself to perfecting his craft while opening doors for other artists to do the same under his very own label.
"Belonging To God"
My name is Dominick Wickliffe. The literal meaning of my first name is "Belonging to God". A name my mother chose because she is a deeply spiritual and religious person. My last name, Wickliffe, is an Old English name that means “white cliff” and was given to my ancestors by their slave owners. Both names give me a connection to my identity and individualism. Most want to be remembered as good people. It means a lot to me to have positive things associated with my name.
I grew up many places. I was born in Los Angeles, moved around as a child but I have spent the majority of my life in Long Beach California. I have lived in Las Vegas Nevada, Tulsa & OKC, Oklahoma, Portland Oregon, Harrisburg Pennsylvania and many cities in California. I didn’t really like moving around as a kid but in my adulthood I find it to be a valuable experience. Traveling opened my mind by exposing me to different kinds of people and environments. I noticed I can get along with and talk to pretty much anyone in the world and I believe it’s due to me constantly being the new kid and having to make new friends in my childhood. I’ve been around the globe a few times since then but Long Beach will always be my true home. I didn’t really like moving around as a kid but in my adulthood I find it to be a valuable experience. Traveling opened my mind by exposing me to different kinds of people and environments. I noticed I can get along with and talk to pretty much anyone in the world and I believe it’s due to me constantly being the new kid and having to make new friends in my childhood. I’ve been around the globe a few times since then but Long Beach will always be my true home. I left home at sixteen years old.
I moved in with my older brother and his family. I left because I wanted freedom from my mother’s rules and regulations. In hindsight that wasn’t the smartest idea but it felt right at the moment.
Connecting To a Higher Self
Things were very tough. I choose to view that part of my life as a necessary time, an educational time, I learned hard lessons. I’m grateful. I either take action to access power or let go and accept the things I have no power over. Meditation is also a great way for me to balance out my emotions.
I like to read books about people who have beat the odds and achieved greatness. I noticed that meditation was a common link between a lot of the people I read about. I looked into the practice and decided to try it out for myself.
Spirituality and religion always had a presence in my household. We had bibles of all sorts on the bookshelves. Everyone in my immediate family believes in the existence of a higher power and are respectful of other people’s beliefs. Reading the Bible as a kid added to my love of books. I guess religion had a good impact on me and my family.
Down Memory Lane
In the words, I'm "one cool guy".
Once when I was 9 years of age my mother bought me a leather jacket like the one Michael Jackson used to wear. On a trip to see my aunt and her family, I wore that jacket and taught my cousin how to moonwalk. Shall I go on?
I was around 5 years old in Kansas at a Wickliffe family reunion. Everyone had on white t-shirts with our last names written across the chest in iron-on letters. In front of a group of our relatives, my father asked me to breakdance and “show off” my moves. That’s an early standout memory for me. I would tell my younger self to talk to the people you love, protect your good energy, and don’t stop breakdancing.
The item I have chosen is a handheld micro cassette recorder. Over the years this recorder has captured ideas and thoughts that have helped me shape my life. From business ideas to creative ideas to introspective thoughts, hundreds of cassettes have been filled with pieces of me. One time I lost my recorder and I almost lost my mind. I’m joking, but it is extremely important to me. I get a good feeling when I look at my recorder because of its function. It’s an idea-catcher. Ideas are valuable so an idea catcher is invaluable! It’s use has been a proven method of success for me in both my business and personal life.
Hustle & Flow
Music has both shaped and changed my life. I fell in love with music at a very young age. So young in fact I can’t remember ever being without it. It started out as a favorite hobby and became a career that has provided huge opportunities for me and my family. Music is a part of me that cannot be removed.
I’m a musician. My mother wrote songs and sang them to me while I was in her womb. I’ve always had a natural gift that others have to work very hard to obtain. I worked hard myself but certain things that others had difficulty learning came easy to me. On Hollywood Blvd a psychic walked up to me and said “quit your day job. You were born to make music”. I told her I didn’t have a day job. I already knew.
Born This Way
My mother is a singer and musician. I grew up in a house filled with music. Sometimes it was her original music and sometimes it was the record player blasting throughout the house. I would say she passed her love music down to me. Once I discovered I could take a musical idea in my mind and bring it into reality I was hooked.
When I was 8 years old my mother took me to a professional studio to record my first song. I wrote the song and practiced it all day the week before my session. That song is my favorite accomplishment because it was my first real step in the direction of my dreams. Some people never take that first step. I’m thankful I did.
Don't Sweat the Technique
When I was 18 I took $200 that I had saved and used it to book studio time at a local recording studio. I recorded a few songs and started to perform them anywhere I could. The more I did that process of saving/recording/performing, the more music business executives contacted me for meetings. I recorded albums on my own dime and created the artwork for my album covers. I paid to get hardcopies pressed up and then distributed them anywhere Hip Hop was being played locally.
My buzz increased and industry players wanted to work with me. My first deal was with an independent label owned by two NFL hometown heroes. They invested their money from being professional athletes into the careers of a few young guys in our neighborhood to give back. I appreciate them for giving me my start in the industry.
From there I signed several deals with multimillion dollar record labels and twenty five years later I’m still here doing what I love. There’s a book written by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers. In this book he mentions the "10,000-Hour Rule," claiming that the key to achieving mastery in any skill, is a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours. The way I improved was to practice 30,000 hours. I always wanted to be 3x better than anyone else.
My children’s happiness, a kind stranger, a heartfelt story, and love give me hope. At this stage in my life I would say the great Lionel Richie’s lyric best describes me. “I’m easy as a Sunday morning.” Nobody’s perfect, just keep the promises you make to yourself and you’ll be fine. You made it farther than anyone ever thought you would. That has to count for something.