Back in 2014 before “Hotline Bling” stole the show, I heard D.R.A.M.’s “Cha Cha” and was hooked instantly. Amazing use of a Super Mario World sample aside, the Virginia-bred artist oozed charisma and the sort of effervescence seemingly only possessed by those truly doing what they love.
Since then, every time I’ve listened to or seen D.R.A.M., his happiness has been nothing short of palpable. He wears a gigantic grin throughout every performance and interview, and through his music, you can hear the joy in every note. This is a guy who had a dream, achieved it, and is loving every minute of the journey.
D.R.A.M. recently appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series, and his performance was no different. In fact, it was a perfect summation of all the qualities that make him so damn likable.
Backed by a live band, the songs aren’t quite as hard-hitting or bouncy as their studio manifestations, but it ultimately ends up working in D.R.A.M.’s favor, allowing his vocals to shine through and the spotlight to remain on his cheery disposition.
Between lounged-out versions of tracks like “Cash Machine,” “Cute” and “Sweet VA Breeze,” D.R.A.M. addressed the crowd with the type of laid-back familiarity we’ve come to expect from him. As he slowly unfurls the lyrics to “D.R.A.M. Sings Special,” you can feel every bit of gratitude inside his body, and by the time he slides into an impassioned performance of “Broccoli,” you almost feel like you were nominated for a GRAMMY yourself.
Start to finish, D.R.A.M.’s Tiny Desk Concert offers constant reminders of why this guy is succeeding in the music industry right now: he’s genuinely talented, and he’s taking the time to stop and smell the roses as he walks, rather than after the trip is over.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Claire Harbage/NPR