Back in May, D.R.A.M. appeared on Chance the Rapper’s third mixtape, Coloring Book, on a track called “D.R.A.M. Sings Special.” An interlude of sorts, it fit perfectly with the rest of the album in a thematically, providing an interesting direction on an album that was outstanding for a number of reasons. D.R.A.M., in his titular guest track, was given his own spotlight, much in the same way that Chance was given the spotlight on the opening track of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, “Ultralight Beam.” A passing of the torch, in a way.
Now, it’s D.R.A.M.’s turn. Big Baby D.R.A.M., his debut album, was released October 21 and allows the Virginia native to wear a variety of different hats. On “Misunderstood,” he trades bars with an autotuned Young Thug. On “WiFi” he croons flirtatiously to Erykah Badu, who mirrors with smooth vocal stylings of her own. And then there’s “Broccoli,” featuring Lil Yachty, and “Cash Machine,” party bangers of our present and future.
This all comes over a year after “Cha Cha”—a hit single and Beyoncé favorite—thrust D.R.A.M. (which stands for “Does Real Ass Music”) onto the scene. He burst through, immediately putting on display the charisma and versatility that makes him such a refreshing and welcomed presence. His positivity is ever present on the record, in radio appearances, and on stage.
On a Friday jam-packed with delayed flights, long car rides, and hour-long sets, D.R.A.M. found a few minutes to catch up with us on the phone in between the madness of a newly-released hit album.
Brooklyn Magazine: I saw you on Conan with Travis Barker as your drummer. What was it like performing with him?
D.R.A.M.: It was real dope, man. He’s a legendary drummer. Beyond his impeccable skill, he’s also iconic. He’s very, very, cool, humble. Even still, after everything he’s already amassed, he fucks with my shit, so that’s really, really dope. We’ve got a mutual respect for one another’s talent.
Were you ever a Blink 182 fan?
A couple of songs, you know, the popular ones, but I never really got a CD or anything like that. Travis Barker had a project where he was just drumming for a bunch of hip-hop and R&B records. I loved that.
So your new album, Big Baby D.R.A.M., showcases the hits, but also slows it down for some as well. Do you have a style that you prefer of the two?
Nah. You know, you go through different moods, different emotions through the days, and our music captures many elements of the ups and downs, the in and outs, and the overall good vibes.
The is very much an album of the time, of 2016—you make references to Pokémon [on single “Cute”], to ‘Netflix and Chill’ [on “WiFi”], things like that…
Pokémon! Side note! Side note—Pokémon, me saying that, that whole confession, that was on June 3rd, 2016, before that app even dropped! I have never played Pokémon Go, ever. I played Pokémon on my Game Boy Advance when I was a little kid.
You were ahead of the curve! You beat the trend.
Ha! How is that? It’s so crazy! We were trippin’ balls once we finally dropped the record, it happened simultaneously. It was weird. In a good way!
You have a lot of modern references like that. Is that something you make sure to do when you’re writing?
No, I consider my music very conversational. It has an introspective point of view, mostly. You know, sometimes you might just say something that sounds sweet. Just something that rings in my ear, like, [singing, like on “WiFi”] Do you got WiFi? It was just random, you know? It’s not, like, an actual thing that I seek out to do.
On that same track, “WiFi,” you collaborate with Erykah Badu. You also have Young Thug on the album, and of course Lil Yachty is on “Broccoli.” You were on Coloring Book with Chance the Rapper. Is there anyone that you haven’t been able to work with that you want to work with in the future?
No. In regards to seeking people out? Nah. But there are collaborations on my bucket list—my number one is Stevie Wonder. He was a great influence to the time that he was making music, and he was a big influence on me, and my take on music years after his time. So, to be able to make timeless music with a timeless musician is epic. It would be epic.
I actually got to meet with the great George Clinton. I linked with him on some stuff. A cat that I’m giddy about actually linking up to work with is Bootsy Collins, one of my main influences. I actually worked with Neil Young! That was great.
What did you work with Neil Young on?
I worked on one of his records, he worked on one of my records. It was really, really cool, man. I mean, a guy from the old school, like, a real, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer. Just embracing my take on music, my sound, and the fact that I’m able to collaborate with someone so legendary, from a whole nother side of the spectrum… it’s monumental. It’s one of those real defining moments, like, ‘you’re really out here.’