At a time where R&B and rap are making stark shifts from moody waves and dark ambiences to celebratory music, the arrival of D.R.A.M., a 28-year old Virginia native, came just in time — and perhaps, even by accident. After breaking out with his single "Cha Cha" in 2015, a few months prior to it being recreated into the lines of Drake's "Hotline Bling," D.R.A.M. has been at the forefront of this musical turning point, and ready to break all boundaries in front of him.
Despite having already captured the attention of Chance the Rapper, Rick Rubin and even Beyoncé, D.R.A.M. maintains a mysterious aura disguised by his ear-to-ear smile.
"I use everything to my advantage," D.R.A.M. tells Exclaim! "Even before the music, I always know that it work off the element of surprise." To the dismay of music critics, as a habitual line-stepper, his music is hard to categorize — and he's comfortable with that.
"I'm not trying to give it up at this moment. I'm an artist. If you have to break it down technically, I would consider myself a singer. But I don't get it — I think it's folks that just don't wanna come to grips that stuff is changing. So many people are trying to figure out what's going on."
With the release of his debut album, Big Baby D.R.A.M., D.R.A.M. coasts through elements of soul, gospel, hip-hop and funk to create a diverse representation of the Virginia music scene, noting, "Virginia is all I know." However, this album represents something much more than just music — it represents the carefree aura D.R.A.M. illuminates.
"My thing is, you are what you put into the air as far as a brand. I'm not out here trying to get everyone on my political views, but I want to just give good music that you can vibe to without any ulterior motive," he reveals. "The only ulterior motive is to have you feel good about yourself and better your day. When people are like, 'Put that D.R.A.M. back on so I can get my life together,' [I think] it's crazy! To feel good now is a little bit of a commodity, so it's held at a higher regard."
It's that same excitement that propelled the Lil Yatchy-featuring "Broccoli" to platinum sales in Canada, despite being an unexpected hit. "I just threw it up on Soundcloud and it got around through Twitter and stuff like that. I didn't expect it, but it's dope as hell. It's a really big solidifier like, 'This is it,'" D.R.A.M. proclaims.
D.R.A.M. also received praise for his Erykah Badu-featuring single, "WiFi." "That's my homegirl! That's my friend, it's crazy. I grew up listening to her, it's dope, you know," he says of the green-eyed singer. Though he continues, his praise for the veteran singer, and even hints at the possibility of collaborating more in the future, D.R.A.M. pulls back, saying, "But I won't get too deep into it."
Whatever D.R.A.M. may have in store, it's definitely a journey worth paying attention to. As he laughs joyfully when asked whether Big Baby D.R.A.M. met his expectations, he also notes that it's just the beginning, saying, "I've been doing this for myself and others… We're never gonna stop."
Check out the video for "Broccoli" featuring Lil Yachty below.