In 2019, defined genres have become obsolete. Artists such as Billie Eilish are topping the pop charts with electronic singles labeled as “alternative,” while Lil Nas X mashed up country and hip-hop to craft his record-breaking hit, "Old Town Road." The 23-year-old singer and rapper Dominic Fike is taking a page from his boundary-free millennial contemporaries with a catalog that blends the essences of punk and more rhythmic genres to complement his pacifying vocals.
Growing up in Naples, Florida, Fike was close enough to the epicenter of the state's DIY hip-hop scene to dream of becoming the next big SoundCloud rapper. But it was his sweet vocals that initially caught the attention of fans and the music industry. His rise was almost cut short when he found unfortunate common ground with many of the SoundCloud rappers he admired: legal trouble. Fike recorded his debut EP, Don't Forget About Me, Demos at the age of 21 while on house arrest for battery of a police officer, the details of which he still hasn't discussed publicly.
After he violated the terms of his house arrest, Fike's music caught the attention of the masses while he did time in jail. His single “3 Nights” began topping pop playlists on streaming services, and after the easygoing track was put on rotation on BBC Radio One, Columbia Records signed Fike to a reported $4 million deal.
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Unfortunately, the majority of his older catalog has been wiped from the internet, and his day one fans can no longer listen to the songs that built up to Don't Forget About Me. But the EP, which contains just six songs, hints at the eclectic forms Fike's music will likely take in the future.
The singles he's released in 2019 further illustrate his sonic playfulness. "Açai Bowl" sounds like an acoustic ditty at first before Fike's AutoTuned vocals kick in with the backing of 808 drums. The R&B-tinged "Rollerblades" takes its time putting soulful, layered vocals at the forefront, while the upbeat "Phone Numbers" was made to rock arenas.
Fike's musical versatility, along with the success of his experimental peers, makes plain there's an appetite for genre-defying music, particularly among younger generations who have grown up with nearly limitless access to all kinds of music. While the SoundCloud rappers Fike aspired to be like have found their success online, Fike's rising profile shows that record labels are also paying attention to listeners' demands.
Dominic Fike. 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 17, at the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-375-0001. Tickets via thegroundmiami.com are sold out.