It’s not just Lorde releasing hot singles today. The Spinoff Music critics are divided over David Dallas’ latest, ‘Fit In’.
Yes, Ddot. This is what getting older feels like. ‘Fit In’ doesn’t have the sound of super-edgy hip hop from 2017, but it doesn’t have to. The lyrics provide Dallas with a clever get-out – he’s done trying to fit in. As always, his lines are smart and densely packed. There’s a sense that maybe this is his reaction to getting older and feeling less connected with youth culture. But he’s owning it. Dallas drops a line about how he likes to “Go fine dine with the wife / Sippin’ on white wine” – it sounds both appealingly cosy as well as the coolest thing ever. ‘Fit In’ is like a personal protest song for a 30-something, cleverly disguised as a cool wine bar tune. But really, it’s David Dallas feeling a bit older, wiser and generally content with his life. It’s a good place to be.
‘Fit In’ deliciously juxtaposes a smooth backing with spleen, and there’s plenty to like – Dallas’ classic tennis references to the “soft-cock”/”topknot” rhyme to the deadpan “these days feeling more neutral”. However, ‘Fit In’ loses the focus of ‘Don’t Rate That’, and his ire curdles into a Venn diagram between the classic Kiwi finger-pointing exemplified by Jon Toogood’s Shihad lyrics, and King Kapisi’s getting trapped in a paranoid battle-rap mirror-maze. I dunno, whether you want it to call it “praeteritic antithesis” or “the lady doth protest too much”, an entire track about how other people are phonies and you don’t care what they think … You cared enough to write a track about it, dude.
All three of David Dallas’ albums have been high charting, quite rightly critically-acclaimed, award-winning affairs, but for whatever reason it wasn’t until the release of ‘Runnin’ off his third album Falling into Place that he scored a top ten hit on the New Zealand chart. New single ‘Fit In’ may well add to this tally. Operating as both an acknowledgement of his veteran status in the New Zealand industry, and as an often brilliantly funny (“Last seen man you were into pop rock / Saying Drake was a soft cock / Now you’re at the show with a top knot”) diss of the pretenders and try-hards he sees around him. Despite proclaiming he’s not trying to fit in anymorem there’s no bitterness here – Dallas simply calls out the BS and stays true to the path he has always stuck to (which involves getting paid, writing rhymes, and in another clever turn of phrase – “watching Roger Federer from the sidelines”), and if that means more hip hop of this calibre when his new album arrives then that’s very good news for all of us.
I’m a David Dallas fan, but I really, really disliked this. The ‘defiant shrugging off of social norms’ is well-mined territory for pop music, and with a hook that simply repeats “I’m done trying to fit in”, ‘Fit In’ doesn’t attempt to approach it in a new or inventive way. In fact it’s already dated – to the month by “Brad and Angie, mostly adopting”, had an earlier reference to Pitchfork as the arbiter of cool not already placed it squarely in the mid-2000s. References to wanting to “be down with the cool kids” don’t really seem relevant when so many pop stars and celebrities are presenting themselves as outsiders, when the pressure is not to be one of the herd but to be your best, your utmost self. Of course that’s a front like any other, but it’s a bit more slippery to dissect, and ‘Fit In’ is a blunt tool. Dallas sounds happy, at least. That’s good to hear.
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If no-one else has made a ‘Good and Bougie’ joke, I’ll take it. Rapping about white wine (the underrated colour of wine btw), going to the tennis and playing X-box instead of going to the club sounds fine by me. And it sounds like the lyrics – a guy making the music he loves, not the music that rap world loves. I’m here for it. If David Dallas has kids, I hope he raps about it.
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