Dominic Fike’s deep voice vibrates through my cell phone speaker, punctuated by not-so-sneaky bites of his breakfast taco. Despite being limited to a cross country phone call in the midst of a pandemic, I can see him in my mind. Fike’s aura is magnetic, transcending the walls of Hollywood’s Conway Recording Studios into my suburban apartment. Whatever you might have heard about Dominic Fike, one conversation with him would make even the most skeptical person recognize the intensity and dedication with which he views his craft. Alas, Fike can’t seem to escape the narrative and mystique surrounding him, both of which he cannot control. 

The story goes: Fike recorded his Don’t Forget About Me, Demos EP in 2017 while on house arrest for battery of a police officer. While in jail for violating the terms of his house arrest, his EP was released on SoundCloud and he garnered enough attention to create a bidding war amongst labels, subsequently signing with Columbia Records. 

Fike hates the term “bidding war,” and the dialogue it sparked surrounding his roots in the Florida SoundCloud rap scene. “It wasn't as fucking plotted as people on the internet say,” he tells me, exasperated, but with a small chuckle at the end. The price tag affixed to his name, which led some to suspect he was an industry plant, is not something the now 24-year-old Fike kept front of mind while recording his album What Could Possibly Go Wrong. “I really only think about the major backing part when the internet makes me,” he says. “I only feel that when I'm online. When I'm here making the music, it’s me and the same people.”

The resulting record is a hypnotic indie pop and rap debut album that invokes a synesthetic experience that encompasses all the senses. It’s reminiscent of a night drive in Fike’s home state of Florida, making stops for takeout and ending in a cozy motel for the night. On the song “Chicken Tenders,” Fike ruminates on a perfect night of love making with a side of chicken tenders in bed (although he has gone on the record to say he prefers chicken nuggets instead). These charming snapshots of his humbly boyish desires are juxtaposed with psychological self-analysis on songs like “Good Game,” which has a hook of, “Don’t you become your daddy.”

Fike’s relaxed demeanor is almost deceiving. Despite being portrayed as a shy and goofy prodigal son of the scene he was once a part of, there is depth and intention in everything he says and does. His first expense upon landing a record deal was securing proper legal aid for his mother, who served two years in jail. Upon learning of the death of George Floyd, Fike made the decision to delay his release out of respect. Even in our conversation, he briefly reflects on his old music from a place of love with a hint of embarrassment. Such self awareness and maturity comes from growing up quickly in an environment without much stability, and Fike sees this self improvement as an ongoing process. 

A lot has changed for Dominic Fike since 2017, and he hopes that the conversation surrounding him can change too.

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