Something Borrowed: Not My Cup, But Tasteful Tea Regardless

JL: I stumbled across Dominic Fike late one night while studying (actually procrastinating). I glanced at his energetic live performance of “Phone Numbers” for triple j on YouTube and, craving a new addition to my list of favorite artists, searched him on Spotify. My shock when I saw his song “3 Nights” with almost 300 million streams despite his non-extensive discography was almost immeasurable

He only has nine streamable songs yet draws more monthly listeners than his contemporaries, such as BROCKHAMPTON. I was instantly drawn to his robust vocal range and his knack for combining elements of Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque guitar with moody, alternative R&B songwriting and production. His West Coast aesthetic, spontaneous image on social media and collaborations with notable artists such as Kevin Abstract and Omar Apollo cement his reputation despite his few releases.

That being said, Fike’s 2018 debut and only EP so far, Don’t Forget About Me, Demo is unfortunately passed over and defined solely by the leading track, “3 Nights.” Despite the songs being somewhat short, with most clocking in at around two minutes, his confident, powerful vocal delivery and thinly-masked frustrations made a lasting impression on me. 

MM: I’ve never heard of Dominic Fike before Jared recommended him to me, so I was walking into this record blind and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. However, upon listening to this, I was pleasantly surprised by this brief EP from an up-and-coming rapper. It really is a brief affair, running just over 14 minutes and featuring six tracks, but I think Fike makes the most of his runtime.

Now, I don’t think this record opens with its best foot forward. It starts with the poppy sounding “3 Nights,” which is about Fike pining for a girl while he’s holed up in a motel in Florida. Despite the track sounding positive and upbeat, Fike raps about his anxieties regarding this girl and how he believes he’s ruined their relationship by sending mixed messages. 

While I do like the lyrical content, I feel like the track is out of place amongst the moodier and alt rock inspired songs later in the EP. “3 Nights,” despite being fairly depressing lyrically, is a bit too sweet sounding for my taste.

Despite the saccharine appetizer, the main course of the demo is lean but ultimately satisfying. As Jared has said, most of the songs clock around two minutes, and while it’s a little disappointing that most of the songs on the demo aren’t fully realized, the songs themselves are solid, executed well and a promising sign of things to come.

The next track is “She Wants My Money,” which is about Fike’s fears about his significant others simply loving him for his money. Fike’s voice is anxious and fleeting on the track, and the guitar and bass work is just as ethereal. The drum work is sharp and punctual, and the track reminds me of some of Radiohead’s moodier ballads — in a good way. Fike also raps very briefly on this track, delivering a short yet effective verse,  about how he needs to prioritize taking care of himself and those he’s closest to first.

“Baby Doll” is the shortest track on the EP, being only a minute and 40 seconds long, but it’s a nice little cut of summer-y funk and pop-rap. On this track, Fike raps about his troubled upbringing and his current relationship with a girl, and it seems that this relationship is a bit more positive than the one found on “3 Nights.”

“Westcoast Collective” is similar to “Baby Doll” in terms of style, but it’s still a very solid track overall, and features a crunchy guitar solo that helps it stand out from the prior song. Here, Fike talks about his former time with Florida rap collective Backhouse, and how the members have grown apart from one another as they sign onto bigger labels.

“Socks” and “King of Everything” are the last two tracks of the EP and are the most experimental out of everything else on the album. “Socks” is a spaced out track featuring swirling electronics and is about dealing with the responsibility of maintaining a relationship. “King of Everything” features a crystalline sounding piano before breaking into an alt-rock closer. These songs offer an intimate look into what Fike’s home life is like.

Overall, this is a very strong demo EP, and I’m glad it was recommended to me.