For most people, social media is simply a mindless hub for silly selfies and unappetizing food photos. For D.R.A.M., though, an Instagram post on May 19, 2015, was everything he ever wished for.
Beyoncé posted a fantastic clip on Instagram of her dancing/posing in an elevator bay to the singer/rapper/songwriter’s party anthem “Cha Cha.” Media outlets instantly jumped on Queen Bey’s latest co-sign. Everybody wanted to know who D.R.A.M. is and why the biggest musician in the world exposed him to her 36 million IG followers.
“She changed my life,” D.R.A.M. tells BET.com. “It’s f**ked up now in the greatest way.”
The Hampton, Va., native is finally getting his just due. After all, “Cha Cha,” about his love for Latin women, was created in his bedroom in July of 2014 with a cheap mic and a beat-up computer.
“‘Cha Cha’ was made in 10 minutes,” he says. He remembers playing an unfinished version of “Cha Cha” last summer as a warm-up record at a birthday party for Gabe (of the singer-producer duo Sunny & Gabe). After a wild reception, they ran back the snippet to yet another positive response. “That next morning we saw each other like, ‘Yo, my man. We gotta make that s**t a song.’ And we made it a song.”
The fact that “Cha Cha” is receiving all this attention, from Rick Rubin and Chance the Rapper to Chad Hugo and Beyoncé, is a blessing he still can’t believe. “All these co-signs. All these random happenings. All these Vines. All of that is just a boost,” he says. “We been on the same mode, making music that can’t be put in a box.”
Like any artist with a hot song, there comes the challenge of whether they can sustain the hype with equally contagious follow-up material. While Trinidad Jame$ and Que attempted to keep their upward progress going with free music after "All Gold Everything" and "OG Bobby Johnson," D.R.A.M. is confident that his newer sound will stick with his newfound fanbase. As an avid fan of funk (Parliament-Funkadelic) and classic hip hop (A Tribe Called Quest, Clipse, OutKast), his influences are on par with the next wave of stars like Post Malone, Kehlani and The Social Experiment, who are blending genres and creating music that’s unique.
Sky's the limit for D.R.A.M. now. Earlier this month, at his first headlining show in New York at Baby’s All Right, he displayed his natural ability to get a packed crowd in a dancing mood. After walking onstage to Playboi Carti’s “Fetti,” the Big Baby flashed his gold grill and wasted little time in delivering what everyone came to see. He teased “Cha Cha,” played a few cuts off his #1EpicEP and proceeded to let some Virginia talent and local acts take the stage. Afterwards, it was back to the D.R.A.M. show, performing his Surf interlude with SZA and closing out with a longer performance of “Cha Cha.” With his uncle on stage dancing to “Cha Cha” and confetti falling from the ceiling, D.R.A.M.’s jam-packed concert was a sign that his popularity is growing faster by the minute.
“I was doing little showcases at open mics around the way in the 757 that would maybe get like 20 people in attendance. Maybe 50. It’s looking good if it is 50,” he says backstage after the show. “But at the end of day, I still got something to say. I don’t care. These 17 people are gonna feel what I gotta say, so doing that for several years now, it kind of fine-tuned and cultivated for when it was ready for the main stage.”
He adds, “I don’t even consider this the main stage, but at this point of my life and my career, this is the biggest s**t that I’ve done, a show in my name.”
In the fall, D.R.A.M. plans on releasing another yet-to-be titled EP, as well as an official remix to “Cha Cha.” It’s all part of the process of building D.R.A.M. as an entity after Beyoncé put him on. Her support seems to be everlasting, too, as she recently created a Tidal playlist called “Drop It for Summer,” which includes “Cha Cha.” They say great things come to those who wait, and he looks ready for the big leagues.
“I wanna leave my mark that’s going to stand the test of time just by making beautiful music as well as spreading love all in between,” D.R.A.M. says. “It can’t be wiped off.”
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(Photo: Richard Perkins)