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Simon Dominic has always been an intriguing artist for hip-hop fans. Drawing from inspirations of the past, the 34-year-old adds a modern flavour to his classical hip-hop stylings, ensuring everything stays unique and fresh.
This year, the ex-AOMG CEO put out his most emotional record yet. Putting his heart on his sleeve, Simon Dominic showed the inner-workings of his mind through introspective lyrics, raw vocals, and a scathing style of music that adds a plethora of emotions when necessary.
The song that stands out the most? 'Demolition Man.’
To preface, even on a surface level, it’s a fantastic track. The emotion is tangible, the vocals are unpolished but brilliant, and the instrumentation really adds sufficient weight to the song, allowing the listener to get lost in the music. It features esteemed rock vocalist Kim Jong-Seo, who brings a quintessentially brilliant verse to the table, with the soaring vocals possessed really overpowering the listener with a damning insight into the emotional aspect of the track.
However, when digging deeper, all of the components that connect on a surface level become even more poignant when allowing yourself to go under that surface.
Firstly, the lyrics are blistering, with every line in the song having some level of meaning. From explaining the suicidal thoughts in his head all the way to the final refrain of ‘You can never feel my pain,’ Simon Dominic bears all for fans, critics, and quite frankly anyone willing to pay attention to the music. It may take people by surprise, but it’s this kind of reflection and look into one’s psychological torment that is unprecedented and ingenious for this style of music. You can start to truly comprehend just how much the artist has been through just from reading what’s on the page, and that alone is a brilliant feat.
Furthermore, Simon Dominic manages to tell a story through his vocal technique and an expertly chosen feature. There’s a sense of aggression tonally in parts, with words like ‘siren’ and ‘silence’ being emphasised heavily, and some lines almost shouted at the listener. It sounds like a man emptying his heart and pouring every last bit of it out into each spoken word, and when coupled with the lyrics, it’s more than enough to reduce even the most hard-faced humans into tears.
It truly has everything vocally, from the aforementioned aggression that shifts to a sense of weakness, right to the distinct power and control with Kim Jong-Seo’s verse. The featured artist may appear to take some of the personal aspect of the song away for some, but for me, he truly builds it up. The strength and control over the vocals contrast deeply with the lyrical content, and the raising of his voice highlights just how alone Simon Dominic has felt inside of his own head. It’s poignant, and something that I can marvel at the genius of.
Finally, we come to the use of instrumentation. When making such a deep, personal track, subtlety is key, and the subtlety here is pure perfection. Even when tones change, or emotions shift abruptly, the song remains restrained sonically, and sticks to a simple, almost jazz-like instrumental track. There’s a mix of instruments being used, from the more traditional piano to modern electronics, and all of them work as effectively as each other. To simply put it, the instrumentation does its job. Rather than take any of the shine, it remains bubbling in the background, allowing the emotion to take centre stage. Even the instrumental closing doesn’t feel huge, with the somber and downbeat nature of that particular minute feeling like more of an extension of what has come before it, forcing the listener into a sense of pondering rather than stealing the show with a wacky solo or needlessly catchy rhythm.
In conclusion, ‘Demolition Man’ is a special track with unmatched sentiment, and musical perfection on all fronts. The most important element of a song is to get a reaction out of its audience, and this evokes more than just one. Even if it doesn’t personally resonate with you, there’s a sense of pain in both the lyrics and the vocals that will truly allow you to walk a mile in Simon Dominic’s shoes. A meta comment I could make would be that this is a stigma-breaking, open book on mental health, and when adding this to everything mentioned previously, I’d say this is one of the best tracks released this decade, let alone this year.