After months of anticipation, Los Angeles-based singer/rapper Dominic Fike has finally dropped his debut album What Could Possibly Go Wrong. He’ll be first to tell you, the road to this point wasn’t easy. In 2017, Fike was more of a Soundcloud rapper, independently releasing his Don’t Forget About Me, Demos while on house arrest. Repping an Apple logo tattoo under his eye, the then 21-year-old became highly sought after by the music industry, eventually signing to Columbia Records for a rumoured $4 million. The label proceeded to remove all of Fike’s existing music from the internet, sparking further intrigue from the public. While the musician did serve prison time for breaking house arrest, it was already too late: his success was imminent.
The troubled indie-rocker catapulted to fame after the 2018 re-release of his Don’t Forget About Me, Demos, containing the breakout hit Three Nights. The indisputable earworm shimmered, combining acoustic influences from Jack Johnson with a rap-rock feeling. The end result sounded entirely on-trend. Since then, the artist has worked with producer Kenny Beats and more, toured internationally, and dropped hard-hitting singles like Phone Numbers in 2019. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, we have a debut album to uncover. Let’s discuss.
Dominic Fike’s debut album What Could Possibly Go Wrong sees the artist candidly reflect on fulfilment, with atmospheric production and some genre-hopping to accompany.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong is an incredibly relevant title for the record. Most likely referencing 2020’s turbulence and Fike’s own musical experimentation, you can best believe this collection of front-left, genre-hopping songs was tracked to the tune of Columbia’s $4 million gamble. Still, it’s a gamble well played: this record is intoxicating, start to finish.
Fike’s fearlessness and varied influences become immediately apparent in the opening track Come Here. It’s got that Pixies-inspired loud-soft dynamic, paired with Fike’s muffled, angry vocals. It thrusts you right into the project, leaving your head banging. The high-energy continues into Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake), however, the artist’s flow becomes more attuned to a melodic pop sensibility. The vignette moves swiftly into a tried and tested, bassy-bridge breakdown, which proves difficult not to sing along to. Fike’s flexible approach to songwriting and understanding of effective pop techniques cannot be understated here.
.@dominicfike celebrates the release of his debut album, ‘What Could Possibly Go Wrong,’ by hitting the beach with his little sis in the home video-styled “Cancel Me.” 🏖 Listen to every track with our playlist!
▶️ https://t.co/Sg5drjehfw pic.twitter.com/wZyJkaIYkx
— Vevo (@Vevo) July 31, 2020
Next up is Cancel Me, co-produced by long-time Selena Gomez collaborators The Roommates. Switching to a rapped delivery, Fike chews over “cancel culture” to express his personal thoughts about where fulfilment lies. “I hope they cancel me, so I can go be with my family,” he raps. The search for satisfaction continues when he admits “I broke up with my girlfriend. Why? To fuck a buncha bitches that I couldn’t back then.” This act of hedonism left Fike feeling “empty as my room”; minimalistic, but honest nonetheless. There are also some witty Kanye West & BROCKHAMPTON references to lighten the mood.
Out of thin air, the gorgeous and string-accompanied 10x Stronger arrives. The interval-like track is crammed with somber vocal layers and harmonies, unlike anything on the record so far. It’s reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s seminal album Blonde, which Fike has admitted is an album he listens to frequently. Its influence can also be heard on standout tracks like Wurli, that utilise atmospheric production, falsetto, and manipulated vocals. The accumulation of foreign tones on Wurli disorientate, placing the listener in the dangerous world that is their own mind. Another instance of this is Politics & Violence. The song holds an incredible beat-switch, deep lyricism, and a loop which Fike told Apple Music he was listening to for “days on end.”
Right around the halfway mark we get Why, a silky-smooth cut with the catchiest chorus on the album, and that’s saying something. It’s a track that you’ll instantly fall in love, then regret ever listening to after it’s been stuck in your head for days. The album’s lead single Chicken Tenders is another slice of unashamed pop, brimming with tongue in cheek: “but girl you know how itchy my back get.” The crisp production, percussion, and synths on the single is the handiwork of frequent collaborator and experienced hip-hop producer, Kenny Beats.
As you may have guessed, Fike doesn’t just flex his hip-hop and pop songwriting on this record. Vampire offers tasty guitar-driven RnB, with an opening riff patently similar to 2000s Red Hot Chili Peppers. The track discusses the dangers of Hollywood parties, particularly the sort of people they attract. It’s the sort of content matter we heard from Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding, another artist capable of mixing and matching genres.
There clearly isn’t genre-consistency throughout this record, but why should there be? Fike can shred, rap, produce, and sing, so why not blend the best of these worlds? It’s this elasticity, creativity, and risk-taking that makes him such a magnetic figure. The songs don’t flow conventionally. Instead, Fike races through hooks in varying moods for an audience that doesn’t like waiting. What could possibly go wrong?
Listen to What Could Possibly Go Wrong below: