D.R.A.M. released his debut album, Big Baby D.R.A.M., late last night. Big Baby D.R.A.M. is a 14-track album with four singles and features from Young Thug, Lil’ Yachty, and Erykah Badu.
Born Shelly Marshaun Massenburg-Smith, Hampton, Virginia, native D.R.A.M. has experienced a steady rise to hip-hop relevance over the past year, so Big Baby D.R.A.M. comes with a certain level of hype and expectations.
In March of last year, D.R.A.M. released his first EP #1Epic to mixed reviews and moderate success. #1Epic was carried by hit single “Cha-Cha,” which was able to use a Latin-infused hip-hop beat and a catchy chorus to make one of the party songs of the summer in 2015. The success of “Cha-Cha” was buoyed by Beyonce dancing to the song on Instagram. In a controversial matter, D.R.A.M. even alleged that Drake stole the sound of “Cha-Cha” for his mega-hit “Hotline Bling.”
Following #1Epic, D.R.A.M. continued to stay busy through projects with Chance the Rapper. D.R.A.M. sang his own song on Chance the Rapper’s mixtape Coloring Book and received credits as a writer and vocalist on Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s album Surf.
After working with Chance the Rapper, D.R.A.M. struck gold in April of this year with his single “Broccoli,” featuring Lil Yachty. Like “Cha-Cha,” “Broccoli” has a dance-inducing beat with an unforgettable chorus and playful lyrics. D.R.A.M. and Yachty rap in a never-too-serious tone about partying, girls, money, and having a good time, a recipe that led to “Broccoli” reaching over 57 million views on YouTube and a spot at No. 1 in mid-September on Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs Chart.
D.R.A.M. follows the structure of “Cha-Cha” and “Broccoli” with “Cash Machine,” another single off of Big Baby D.R.A.M. and possibly his next chart-topping song. A piano-laden, up-beat melody with endearing off-key singing from D.R.A.M., “Cash Machine” sticks in your head long after the song has ended.
In the music video for “Cash Machine”, D.R.A.M. plays the role of a joker, just a big kid in a 28-year-old’s body who wants to have fun and enjoy life. Dressed in all pink, D.R.A.M. opens the music video by playing with a child and by stepping on imaginary piano keys to the beat of the song, an ode to Tom Hanks in Big. Like “Cha-Cha” and “Broccoli,” the music video for “Cash Machine” features beautiful women dancing and D.R.A.M. donning a massive ear-to-ear smile while animated drawings flash on the screen. The music video for “Cash Machine” continues in it’s playfulness with D.R.A.M. riding around a neighborhood on a tricycle while showering his neighbors with tie-dye hundred dollar bills.
With rampant social injustice and a disastrous presidential election currently plaguing our country, an increasingly depressing social landscape is being battled by a wave of undeniably optimistic hip-hop music.
While rap with biting lyrics and traditional hip-hop sound is still being made by plenty of talented new artists like Young M.A. and 21 Savage, a trend of playful, light, hopeful music is being ushered in from the likes of Chance the Rapper, Lil Yachty, and D.R.A.M.
D.R.A.M. does not try to be something he’s not on Big Baby D.R.A.M., and up-tempo dance beats fill the album along with self-deprecating, carefree lyrics. Big Baby D.R.A.M. succeeds in making the listener happy, the assumed goal of the album, which is present even on the album cover, which features D.R.A.M. smiling as wide as he can, face to face with a Golden Doodle puppy.
Big Baby D.R.A.M is available to purchase or stream today. D.R.A.M. begins his first ever headlining tour in January, starting in Nashville and ending in Los Angeles, spanning 13 cities.
[Featured image by David Goldman/AP Images]