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Review: D.R.A.M. - 'Big Baby D.R.A.M.'

Updated on October 23, 2016

Listeners quickly learn to expect the unexpected on rapper/singer/songwriter D.R.A.M.’s debut studio album, ‘Big Baby D.R.A.M.’.

Throughout the release, the Virginia-raised rapper is tremendously comfortable doing his own thing and D.R.A.M. (which stands for Does. Real. A**. Music.) tries hard not to take himself too seriously. The 28 year-old’s fearlessly offbeat showmanship is not held back by any real sense of self-consciousness.

‘Big Baby D.R.A.M.’ falls short of brilliance or genius, and offers nothing too profound lyrically. Still, it’s uncomplicated and full of flair - plus the LP feels very present-day.

The record is presented from inside a hip-hop framework, however, apart from several tracks on the record’s first half, the LP is pretty much sung.

‘Big Baby D.R.A.M.’ is home to some glorious vocals, the rapper has a classic R&B album in him somewhere.

Underneath his kooky image, depicted vividly on the album’s front cover, is an artist with much to offer.

D.R.A.M. is so naturally versatile on slow-burning R&B cut ‘Change My #’, it’s almost irresponsible. After the tune kicks off with lustrous R&B harmonies, the hip-hop star dances between singing and confident, causal rap bars.

HIs charisma could probably pull off anything, but on his studio debut, D.R.A.M. makes a bigger splash as a vocalist - he communicates much more singing.

D.R.A.M.’s offhand rapping can sound standard and cosmetic, but then again, his hip-hop skills give his unorthodox vocal stylings an edge, a bite.

Photo: Christine Hahn
Photo: Christine Hahn

D.R.A.M. is unrestrained alongside Young Thug on ‘Misunderstood’. Packed with tense piano sounds, choppy drum beats and vintage rock elements, the track is a barrage of confidently performed zany, madcap ideas.

Over stark beatwork, ‘In A Minute’ features attentive rap lyrics from the Virginian. D.R.A.M. manages to come off slightly boy-next-door on ’Monticello Ave’, a cut that’s enhanced by a selection of lush backing vocals.

Like a one-man army, both cuts see D.R.A.M. veer between rapping the songs’ verses and singing their hooks.

Neither tune leaves a permanent mark, but they’re executed attractively and glide along trouble-free. Two-minute wonder ‘In House’ outshines them all with a divine, amorous R&B vibe.

Brimming with high-as-a-kite, good-time vibes, lead single ’Broccoli’ features Atlanta’s Lil’ Yachty, and the boys sound eased over the hip-hop cut’s array of simplistic, stupidly infectious musical tricks.

‘Cash Machine’ humorously elaborates on how D.R.A.M.’s prospects have improved since he began bringing in the big bucks.

Digital age slow-jam ’WiFi’ features Erykah Badu - and D.R.A.M. even gives the superstar her very own introduction.

With yearning vocals from Badu and a deep, sensual turn from D.R.A.M., the truly standout song’s instrumental is paced, loose and super gradual. The Virginian doesn’t completely abandon his artistic quirks in order to profess his love to Badu, but he impacts in spite of them.

Badu’s own eccentricities combine successfully with D.R.A.M.’s as the twosome put their own spin on traditional R&B seduction.

Piloted by old-skool synths, dancefloor standout ‘Outta Sight’ is adorned with hazy vocals and surreal falsetto. Although he only ever sounds like he’s half trying, D.R.A.M.’s loose harmonies nicely top off the song’s catching, hypnotic hook.

D.R.A.M. is infatuated like a schoolboy on ‘Cute’, a harmless, playground R&B effort about the rapper’s interest in an Instagram girl.

’100%’ has D.R.A.M. giving thanks for the affections of his partner. At the song’s mid-section, over its dense beatwork, the rapper tantalisingly sets his singing falsetto free.

‘Password’ is another love song - sort of. The tune touches on the rap star’s struggle to balance his need for commitment with his sexual appetites.

While D.R.A.M. reassures his long-suffering partner of his devotedness despite numerous indiscretions while she was away, he is heard entertainingly scolding himself for leaving his phone out for her to find.

The dreamy, Sunday morning atmosphere of ‘Sweet VA Breeze’ is insanely relaxing. The tune’s intricate, blues motif is boosted by church organ keys and adept singing from D.R.A.M. Though its lyrics hint at the joys of getting recreationally high, D.R.A.M. is able to periodically evoke the memory of soul music’s legends.

With it’s nonsensical, repetitive lyrics, trappy, bassy bonus track ‘Workaholic’ isn’t exactly scholarly. However, it does successfully re-baptise listeners into the uncompromisingly unhinged world of D.R.A.M.




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