Every minute, Columbus rapper Dominique Larue is working hard, and she is grateful for the life she has.

As a businesswoman, Larue manages her own music career and delegates certain tasks to outside people. The duties that she does assign herself are completed on the go–she is a self-proclaimed “wanderer,” taking advantage of any free moments by making phone calls and sending emails between events. Between juggling these responsibilities, Larue has recently discovered the importance of self-care while dealing with depression and anxiety.

“We only have 24 hours and I feel like, in my life, I have to utilize every second of it,” Larue said. “Sometimes, you would think there’s more time in the day because of all the things that I do.”

Delegating work leaves her plenty of time to practice the creative and emotional outlet of songwriting. Fans of Larue may have noticed that she has been out of the limelight since last June, but the entrepreneurial rapper is finally working on new material again. After a brief hiatus for personal reasons, Larue is back and better than ever, rapping again and using it to cope with her mental illness.

The creative process may not be as fast as she would like it to be. Larue is back in the studio and working with producer Tha Audio Unit, also known as Jack Burton, her cousin and collaborator since 2007.

Although she does not consider herself an intentional advocate for mental health awareness, much of Larue’s work centers on her daily battle with anxiety and depression. She is her own inspiration, drawing influence from personal experience and making it relatable. Larue’s music is a narrative about her life and anything relatable that comes from that is simply an accident.

Larue gave a TED Talk on depression and anxiety in 2016 at a TEDxColumbusWomen event, in which she discussed music as a coping mechanism; it helps her to write thoughts down and make them tangible. It is a mode of expression and a way for her to be honest with herself like she never has before.

“I’m a talker, you know?” Larue said. “And I’m honest, and I feel like one of the hardest things that I ever had to do in my life was to be honest with myself. I’m able to look myself in the eyes and be honest through my music.”

Larue is always using her music as a vehicle to learn from her past and become a better person. Often, she will look back at past work–like Help Me, I’m Poor, her latest release–and realize that the lyrics are still applicable to her life even as she moves toward recovery.

On Help Me, I’m Poor, Larue grapples with the constant struggle of making a living while balancing depression and anxiety. Her flow is impeccable as she raps over thick beats, and the end of every track features conversations about the realities of being poor; at the end of “IDK,” Larue is heard talking about how she is “really just poor,” mentioning her depression and anxiety revolving around making money.

Perhaps the most universal track is “Help Me Please,” closing out the album with a battle between Larue and her mental health. In the middle of the song, she raps as if speaking to her personified sadness, saying, “Hello, Depression, go ahead and take a seat.”

Her healing has not been entirely self-motivated, however; Larue makes sure to emphasize the importance of her community.

“I’ve got a lot of people who’ve been really looking out for me and believing in me, and they’re a part of my village,” Larue said. “We use each other. You can’t do it by yourself. It’s all of us.”

She applies this sentiment to the Columbus music scene, too. Larue is constantly supporting other artists and connecting creatives to other people who may be able to help them. It is a vibrant city full of unique performers, and she aims to help young artists however she can.

When it comes to the music industry, confidence is key. Although Larue has been a part of the city’s music scene since she was 16, she has not always had that self-assurance. Instead, the entrepreneur has recently developed it as a result of other self-improvement.

“You’ve got to have that confidence, you’ve got to believe in yourself and you have to believe in your people that you’re pushing and who push you,” Larue said. “There’s too many rules to be made out here not to feel good about what you’re doing.”

Part of Larue’s emotional self-improvement includes gratitude: letting her friends know that they are appreciated and pushing their work. She tries to remain thankful for every minute that she is alive, living in the moment as much as possible.

“All we have is right now. Let me just feel as good as possible,” Larue said.

She has been learning to appreciate brief moments as they pass. Even if she will never be “content” with herself, she is always working on becoming the best version of herself and loving every minute.

What seems like the littlest moment may become a story later in life, and whether it is her narrative in a song or dinner-party entertainment, Larue loves stories. She wants to create stories now so that she can tell them to her son and grandchildren when she is older.

More than that, though, Larue wants to be a pillar within the Columbus art community. She wants people to know her name and to talk about what she accomplished for years to come.

“Our lifetimes are so small compared to the universe. What keeps us going? What makes us immortal? Obviously we have pictures and videos, but word-of-mouth and stories? Those are just as important,” Larue said. “I want to have a story to tell, and I want people to tell my story the right way.”

Originally published in Issue 5, Vol. 2 of In The Record Store: The Magazine on April 20, 2018.