Great artists steal―a sentiment I’ve always believed was made by a cunning thief in defense of what he took. Great artists influence, great artists inspire, and those that steal can make great art, but I will always look at them with questionable eyes. During the height of “Hotline Bling,” I almost forgot how the record was art produced through robbery. Sonically, it’s painfully similar to D.R.A.M.’s “Cha Cha.” The two songs are sonically brothers, but instead of being like Steph and Seth Curry, they’re more like Cain and Abel. “Hotline Bling” fatally overshadowed “Cha Cha,” sending D.R.A.M.’s breakout single to an early grave.
No one wants to see an artist's chance at stardom stolen from them by someone who is already standing at the peak on the mountaintop. What Drake did to D.R.A.M. can be defended as a great artist stealing, but knowing how it completely ruined a big moment for a new artist, it leaves you feeling rather sour toward Drake’s hit single. What’s impressive is how D.R.A.M. didn’t overreact in the face of his song being stolen. He was mostly cool and calm and went back to work in search of another hit. “Broccoli,” the D.R.A.M. single that features everyone’s favorite little boat, proved that he had more hits waiting to be unleashed. There’s no need to cry over spilled milk when you can be raising your next cow.
D.R.A.M.’s story is an interesting one. He's an artist who has truly worked to be in his current position. A little adversity didn’t stop him from moving forward, and doing so with an infectious smile. He’s pushing fun and positivity and that’s why it’s easy to root for his success. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan, but this is partially due to an overabundance of music and not enough ears. Yet, I believe, all his efforts have been leading up to his big debut album, Big Baby D.R.A.M., and I’m going into this review hoping that I leave a believer. I know that he’s a gifted singer and a good rapper, so I’m excited to see how he brings together all the other crucial elements that can make or break an album.
1. "Get It Myself"
"Get It Myself," the perfect title to begin a D.R.A.M. album. D.R.A.M.’s singing is so strong, yet animated. Can you imagine D.R.A.M. singing in an opera? He’s like a less ratchet, stronger vocal version of Ty Dolla $ign. The drums are hitting like the neighbors pounding on the door when you’re playing Young Thug too loud after 3:00 a.m. This is rather uplifting. Preaching going out and getting it. I love the soulfulness. Soulful music coming all the way back in 2016. Just glanced at the cover and D.R.A.M.’s dog is definitely #petgoals. People have those, right? Short song, but strong.
2. "Misunderstood" (ft. Young Thug)
Piano keys moving at the speed of Speedy Gonzales. Man, this is feeling like a banger. Production is shifting around, getting strong, with D.R.A.M.’s rapping and singing moving the song forward. I can’t see D.R.A.M. getting really aggressive, he’s like a gentle giant that holds cute dogs on his album cover. The amount of changes happening in this beat is incredible. Young Thug just so elegantly slid into this song’s DMs. A guitar strum played and Thugger blew into town. He has one of the most distinguished voices in rap. Just mentioned cops killing us, Thug been rapping about 12 a lot lately. It still takes me several listens to understand 85% of the things Thug says. There were some thunderous claps but they came and went like Houdini dining and dashing. Would’ve loved to hear Thug and D.R.A.M. go back and forth. A lot of passion in D.R.A.M.’s voice for the second verse. Yeah, he’s pissed about something.
3. "In A Minute / In House"
A powerful drop when that beat came in. The sample sounds weird, like kids in the hallway echoing something. This one has some bounce. Is D.R.A.M. a rapper or singer? It’s weird, I don’t think D.R.A.M.’s presence is strong on this one. He’s not overpowered by the beat, just not as compelling. The hook is gold. A cool echo starting the second half of the song. The first half was sexual, but this second half is starting off far more intimate. D.R.A.M. is showing off the singing chops. I’m starting to have a soft spot for R&B trap songs. The second half steals the show from the first if you ask me. Why isn’t Missy on this? This is something she should’ve swag surfed across. I think I just miss Missy. Shoutout Virginia. Shoutout 7/11.
4. "Monticello Ave"
Took a minute to get beyond the intro. Oh, rapping D.R.A.M. His flow could be a bit sharper, but it works for him. Loving the beat and the hook. D.R.A.M. didn’t skimp on the production budget, his beats are thick and pulsing with life. A crazy switch up. There’s a bit of boom and a bit of bap in this trap sound. As the song progresses it's starts to sound more like a keeper. D.R.A.M. is going back to back with himself, he’s truly a one man show.
5. "WiFi" (ft. Erykah Badu)
Erykah Badu has been very embracing of the new artists in the cyber era. I wonder if she's ever called Tyron on Facetime Audio. R&B D.R.A.M. is giving the grown and sexy something to talk about. Never thought a song about trying to get the WiFi password would ever become a sexual innuendo. I feel like we as a generation just aren't prepared for this. Erykah Badu will be sexy for the rest of forever. She is so naturally attractive. It’s like words leave her lips filled with lust the way donuts can be filled with jelly. To call this incredible would be an understatement. I kind of wish it would’ve been kept for Erykah’s "Hotline Bling" mixtape but I think the universe would’ve combusted if D.R.A.M. appeared on that album. Hard to resist pressing rewind.
6. "Cash Machine"
I’ve seen .gifs of this song, but I've never watched the video. This production sounds like something that would be the intro for a black Charlie Brown series. Can’t you see an afroed Charlie getting a football removed from his very feet? It’s so fun and lively. D.R.A.M. makes flossing sound like fun. Loving these piano keys. Why wasn’t this released during the summer time? Flow switch in the second verse was cleaner than a freshly waxed bald head. Whoever did this beat needs to score an animated series. Loving the fun. Now I have to watch the video with the music. This one is a keeper.
7. "Broccoli" (ft. Lil Yachty)
Every year there’s a catchy song you hate to love. This is my guilty pleasure song of 2016. In my heart, I know I want to hate it. Hate like Kanye hates phone calls when his front door is unlocked. The thing is, Lil Yatchy isn’t a terrible rapper, he’s just not a good rapper. Plus his voice sits comfortably between obnoxious and hilarious. He was both built to win and lose. My other gripe is the beat sounds like it was found on Soundclick from 2007. The kind of beat Soulja Boy might’ve turned down after the rise of "Crank Dat." But it’s so damn catchy/motivating. Currently bouncing in my seat and hating every second of it. D.R.A.M. is really good. His flow switches like a foreign car switching gears. I do think rappers should stop comparing themselves to dogs in a post-Gucci “I’m A Dog” era.
I don’t know about this one. Really hard drums, but I don’t know how I feel about D.R.A.M.’s serenading. It’s living up to the song title, but it might be too cute. Like there’s cat videos on the internet cute, and then there’s hanging outside her window with a boombox cute. This song is falling into the latter. If this was another teen movie maybe I would enjoy it more, but I’m leaning toward the skip button. “I choose you like a Pokemon,” I don’t think even the nostalgia aspect can save that line. When the drums fade to black and the keys start blessing the ears and D.R.A.M. is singing, the song is way more tolerable. I like the concept, it’s not all bad, but it’s just too cute for me.
9. "Outta Sight / Dark Lavender"
The way this one is coming in with the piano chords and the kicking drum and the claps it might destroy the dance floor. Falsetto D.R.A.M. I’m thinking about Masego, this is something that his saxophone would sound great on. I’m not much of a dancer, but I’m happy to hear rappers crafting music for dance floors. I think this is a song about the struggles of a long distance relationship but it’s too groovy to decipher. Such a groovy song. “This is for everybody,” as we enter the second half. D.R.A.M.’s singing was interrupted by a cellphone call. I need to do an article on the best phone calls on rap albums. Whoever is playing the keys is delivering. I feel like this interlude was a waste, it didn’t add much more to the song than before.
10. "Change My #"
The album has slowed down a bit, but this is a far heavier track than the previous two. I like this. The added weight of the production and D.R.A.M. being in full petty mode is a dangerous combination. I think this is the first time where D.R.A.M is perfectly bridging his rapper swagger with his powerful singing voice. A scorn, petty man is a dangerous man. This is the “You wasn’t shooting with me in the gym” anthem of 2016. I like this one, a bit extra, but I enjoyed it more or less.
“This song is a confession,” hopefully we get D.R.A.M. Raymond. The beat is soft, it’s barely an instrumental. I like this, it's a nice change-up. Another seamless "singing to rapping to a melodic combo of the two." I do enjoy love songs that connect with the social media/internet era. “I wish my password wasn’t my name,” D.R.A.M. with the rookie mistakes. Our parents didn’t have to worry about passwords with their little black books and pagers. The drums finally came in, they sound like some Metro Boomin "Diamonds Dancin…"
Very elegant piano playing. I wonder if the last three songs are about the same girl. It seems like all these love songs connect. D.R.A.M. is bringing that lovey dovey R&B back. This will be a wedding song. I can already foresee it. Mac Miller would’ve been a good placement here. Coming off his last album I wouldn’t mind his insight on the 50/50 union. I might like this one when I’m in love.
13. "Sweet VA Breeze"
This is nice, pleasant, feels rather jazzy. The organ keys are adding a nice texture to the production. A complete change of pace. I could get used to more songs like this. I can’t place a year on this but it doesn’t feel modern, and that is perfectly fine. It’s like something that would play in a jazz club. Who is that singing? That's not D.R.A.M., it was an older man. Easily a late album favorite. It’s just a mood, a feeling. A song you let play from beginning to end and replay it again and again. Real love...
I like his tone, there’s a lot of energy in this one. I hope when the drums drop they will be WOOOOOOO THEY JUST DROPPED AND IT WAS A STONE COLD STUNNER. This is a hustler anthem. It has a touch of EDM that makes me feel like this will explode overseas/during festival season. This may be a bonus song, but it screams single. This is rise and grind music. Does Diddy stills say that?
A big man with a big, powerful voice. D.R.A.M.’s voice is an instrument in itself and he uses it to convey feelings of love, lust and fun. He’s by far one of the few artists that can make music for men and women and no one feels disconnected. There's a joy in his music that just makes you feel good. That’s what will keep D.R.A.M. around, the fact his music can connect on different levels with different people and fill them with something that touches the soul. Mass appeal is hard to acquire, but when you can naturally make songs that create an appeal to the masses, you are a force to be reckoned with.
Big Baby D.R.A.M. gets a bit repetitive toward the end, but where the subject matter begins to lack, technical skill and production save the day. He’s far from a one-hit wonder, or even a one-trick pony, so that means he’ll have a second and even a third chance to tweak the shortcomings and maximize his strengths. If he continues to grow at this rate, D.R.A.M. is on his way to being a huge star. I might miss Missy, but Virginia has a new bearer to hold the torch; I dare an artist to try and steal that.
By Yoh, aka Obi-Yoh Kenobi, aka @Yoh31.
Photo Credit: Atlantic Records