Dominic Fike’s “3 Nights” is the Platonic ideal of a summer hit, reggae-tinged rap verses delivered over a swaying-palm-tree melody, as sonically uncomplicated as it is inescapably catchy.
The 23-year-old rapper thrives in the same amorphous space between pop, hip-hop, and reggae that Twenty One Pilots and Post Malone, among others, have turned into a music-industry sweet spot.
Fike’s songs — those on last year’s “Don’t Forget About Me, Demos” EP as well as recent singles like sunny Kenny Beats collab “Phone Numbers” — recall surfer-strummer Jack Johnson as much as other rappers from his South Florida home turf.
Columbia Records, which signed Fike to a $3-4 million deal after a bidding war involving several major labels, thinks he’s the next big thing. Ahead of a sold-out show at Brighton Music Hall this Wednesday, Fike spoke by phone about his ongoing “Rain or Shine” tour and not letting the pressure get to him.
Q. You’ve had some of these songs for years, but touring is fairly new to you. What’s it been like to play these songs live?
A. When I recorded them, I didn’t play and sing the songs at the same time. I just played the guitar, then recorded the bass over it, then recorded the drums over that. And I just made it like a lasagna. I layered it. My first couple shows, I figured I should be playing the guitar and singing. That felt weird, but I got good at it pretty quick, and I learned my songs and how to play them. I had some rehearsals, so I could freak them up a little bit, and now I’m used to it. The crowd responds really well. I could [expletive] up and they just laugh and have fun.
Q. Your songs, whether you’re rapping or singing, have this breezy, laidback feel to them. How do you approach making music?
A. When I did “3 Nights,” it was just one of those days where we’d gotten enough sleep, enough food, and we were excited. I don’t know, [music] is just me having fun. I was drunk when I wrote most of it. It was sunny outside. We were laughing, and I had so many people in the studio. That [energy] translates well.
Q. Hip-hop historically has a bunch of regional subgenres, with different cities like New York and Atlanta boasting their own distinct styles. What is Florida’s sound?
A. Florida’s got a cool-[expletive] rap sound. It’s an extension of drill that, to me, is bouncier, catchier, more refined. You gotta go to Florida, man. It ranges. The Dade [County], Fort Lauderdale, and Pompano [rap sounds] are different. I used to be in a rap collective and had done some shows with people like XXXTentacion, Wifisfuneral, Ski Mask the Slump God, Robb Banks, people at the front of that movement. I didn’t really know them like that, because I was kind of one foot in, one foot out, in school half the time. I had [expletive] going on. Plus no one’s really friendly down there.
Q. How do you mean?
A. It's just kind of a Southern thing. There are guns everywhere, and it’s literally a phrase, like “I ain’t friendly.” I mean, if you’re talking about the white Southern mom hospitality, they’ve got that. But they’ve also got the Dade County vibe and [expletive] you need to be aware of at all times. Florida, bro. It’s different.
Q. You’re still working on your debut album. How’s that going?
A. Everyone’s been really nice about giving me the time, especially at the label. I’m just thinking of this album as a time-capsule. It’s going to be a record of what’s been happening with me. I listen to a bunch of albums on repeat, like “For Emma, Forever Ago” by [Bon Iver], “Blonde,” and “Endless,” [both by Frank Ocean]. I’ve been listening to those, in terms of trying to get some structure to my album, but I stopped, because I was overthinking it.
Q. How would you pitch your sound to someone who’s never heard it?
A. I never do that. I literally just play it, because I hate it when people talk their [expletive] up, and I never knew how to describe mine. But most recently, I’d say it's, like, that [expletive] that gave you goosebumps in the 2000s, but now. With better production. And ideas. And lyricism. It’s the upgrade! I’m bringing the 2000s back.