Dominic Fike — a name that brings to mind 2019’s fixation with the color yellow, palm trees swaying against a backdrop of balmy humidity and a stint on HBO’s “Euphoria.” The artist, who is known for songs like “Why” and “Babydoll,” which chronicle the woes of dysfunctional love affairs, takes an unflinching look at his roots with his new single “Mama’s Boy,” which channels an unprecedented vulnerability.
Though Fike has touched upon his complex relationship with his mother in previous work — in “Babydoll,” he raps “My mama had her issues but I miss her anyway” — he’s never been as brutally honest as he is in his latest single, released June 23. First debuted at Coachella, “Mama’s Boy” features steady percussion and the childlike strums of an electric guitar, exuding an aura of nonchalance paralleled by the cool demeanor of the girl pictured on the album cover. Despite the airy sound of the track, Fike pulls straight from the heart.
It’s difficult enough to come to terms with the fraught relationships brought on by negligent parents, let alone sing about them, but Fike begins the song with a marked awareness of just how deteriorated his familial ties are. His enunciation veers on the side of anger as he sings, “Where did my parents go? I’m not in Italy/ They like vacation homes much more than they love me.” The resentment he feels towards his parents is palpable, his clipped words holding the weight of feeling hate toward the first people one ever learns to love.
Fike expands on the guilt that comes with parental estrangement in the second verse, singing “Half of my heart is in your chest” as a guitar strum reverberates amid his vocals. Offsetting the bitterness he feels towards his parents — specifically his mother — is the knowledge that he, ultimately, is a product of her. Not only is every bit of his physiology influenced by his mom, so are his deepest wishes and desires — “Mama’s Boy” is a truly apt title.
Fike’s desire to connect with his mother comes to life when he sings “I’d go see Tuscany/ If you could come with me.” In the song’s chorus, he confesses “I wish I was a toy” — an object that can be tinkered with and molded to fit even the most unattainable of expectations, proposing that if he were to relinquish his autonomy, he’d attain the approval of his mother.
Fike’s juxtaposition between lines bitter with acrimony and lyrics that crave for acceptance comes to a head in the single’s bridge, an amalgamation of childlike rhymes reminiscent of jejune hand-clapping games. His vocals are pitched up and layered, ending a song that may just be one of his most authentic with an air of adolescent naivete — for Fike, “Mama’s Boy” is simultaneously resolute in addressing the animosity between him and his mother, and holding on to a glimmer of hope that all broken ties can be mended.
“Mama’s Boy” has Fike perfecting his craft and testing his own musical limits. His honest take on a subject personal to him is a breath of fresh air and an opportunity for him to flaunt his own maturity. His confessionals command listeners’ attention in a way that is both commanding and intimate. Fike’s second studio album promises to highlight his musical metamorphosis, and “Mama’s Boy” is the perfect sneak peek of all it’ll have to offer.