The rumors suggested that the bidding war for singer Dominic Fike was not like the others: Usually the major labels throw piles of cash at rappers, but Fike’s tracks are guitar-based, and believe it or not, could only be described as rock music. And while labels typically start to hurl their money after an act has already proven his or her ability to amass streams, the 22-year-old Fike didn’t have a viral hit.
Fike ended up linking with Tha Lights Global, which boasts SoundCloud rap superstar Lil Pump, for management, and signed with Columbia. The singer’s music was pulled from the internet, so in the two months since the news of his deal surfaced, it was as if the label had thrown a reported $4 million to a ghost.
The first “official” Fike music surfaced last week on Don’t Forget About Me: It’s a six-track collection, less than 15 minutes in total, but there are glimpses of promise. “3 Nights” already has what it takes to soundtrack phone commercials, with a clap-happy beat and an alliterative, run-on hook: “Call me what you want, when you want, if you want/ And you can call me names if you call me up.” (The track quickly earned placement on some of Spotify’s popular feeder playlists, like Pop Rising, which has nearly 1.5 million followers; that’s the type of access a major label can get you.) “Westcoast Collective” is cracking rap-rock with power chords and an early Weezer hook that will have Alternative radio programmers foaming at the mouth.
It’s also just 1:47 — four of these songs are less than 2:15, though that doesn’t mean that they are slight. “Socks” starts out cheeky — “I can’t keep track of all my socks/ I’m irresponsible, not because I’m a rockstar” — and turns suddenly into a picture of teenage desolation: “If I set fire to these walls right now/ Would I set foot inside your mind?” Fike can accomplish a lot in a short period of time, and he will need to, if the label hopes to recoup its investment. But there are enough sparks on Don’t Forget About Me to make you curious about what else he can do.