DRAM is more than just your average rapper. He’s a smooth crooner, jazz advocate, funk fanatic, and a modern R&B royalty. There’s a reason why his debut album Big Baby DRAM has been such a success, having been certified gold and generating smash hits like the Lil Yachty assisted ‘Broccoli’. DRAM comes from a long line of talents from Virginia that spawned hip-hop legends like Pharrell, Timbaland, and the Clipse, and his seamless blend of genres like trap, blues, funk, and soul has lead him to collaborations with legends like Erykah Badu, the Gorillaz, and landed him the opening spot Kendrick’s tour this year. You could compare DRAM to Anderson Paak or Young Thug, but neither of those would be entirely accurate. DRAM is a jack of all trades, bringing a fresh and unique sound to modern day hip-hop.
Only a couple months shy of DRAM’s Australian debut at Falls Festival and a headline show In Melbourne, I had the privilege of getting him on the phone for a chat about success and his excitement to arrive on our shores. Throughout our conversation, it quickly became apparent that DRAM is one hundred percent the exertion of positive energy that he is on his album cover, and the smooth, polite character that makes his music so charming. With his new single ‘Ill Nana’ featuring Trippie Redd climbing up the billboard charts and ‘Broccoli’ still banging in clubs all around the world, it looks like this big baby, is only getting bigger.
Hey DRAM, how are you today?
I’m cool man. I’m excited to get to Australia soon, I’ve never been over there.
What are you most excited to see in Australia?
I’m really excited to see how the crowds react to my performance, as well as just what it’s like to be a young, black successful male in Australia. Most people from where I’m from never get to see what it’s like over there, so I’m excited to see the sights.
Are you bringing your dog Idnit along with you?
Unfortunately, I don’t think so. I would love to though. He’s just gonna chill back at the crib while I’m gone.
What can fans expect from a DRAM show?
Expect all the elements I have to offer, big baby at large, good vibrations, and a lot of fun. I love to perform, and I love being in a position to have people all around the world receive it. I think people are going to be very pleased with what I have to offer. I’m going to be ake it very special for my first time in Australia!
Who are some of your favourite live acts that have inspired your shows over the years?
The Gorillaz. To me, they set the bar for how live shows are conducted. The fact they’ve got 20 years in the music industry, and hit after hit, amazes me. The way Damon commands stage is crazy! I’ve seen a lot of acts in my life, a lot of greats. But not much compares to how the Gorillaz put on a show!
You’ve had a huge year so far playing Coachella, touring with Kendrick, and that’s not even mentioning the huge success of your album Big Baby DRAM. How’s the experience been so far?
It’s been a blessing. I had no idea it was going to happen so fast. It shows that everything can work out, and everything can line up once you put your energy into it. All I have to do now is keep that ball rolling!
There’s a lot of variety in sound on Big Baby DRAM, ranging through elements of soul, funk and hip-hop. Who were some of your inspirations heading into the album?
My main inspiration was George Clinton. Every one who I look up to, and am inspired by, is inspired by George Clinton. To me, he is the captain of the mothership. Other influences would be people like Queen Badu and D’Angelo. I was inspired by a lot of things for this album, as I wanted to display the full range of what I can do.
On songs like ‘Sweet VA Breeze’, you confess your love to your hometown of Hampton, Virginia. How did growing up there help craft the DRAM we know today?
Growing up in Virginia, we didn’t have a lot of artists come out of there. But the ones, who did, were constantly changing the game. People like Pharrell, Missy, Timbaland, Clipse, and even Lex Luger were really motivational. There’s not much out in Hampton, but seeing people like them showed the world that Virginia was more than they thought it was.
With the new single ‘Ill Nana’ with Trippie Redd, and having worked with artists like Lil Yachty, and Smokepurrp early on, it seems like you’ve got your ears open to what’s going on in hip-hop right now. Who are you listening to right now?
Young Nudy at the moment. His project Nudyland is my shit!
With the year coming to it’s end, what can we expect from you in the near future? It doesn’t seem like you’re about to take any breaks.
Nope, we ain’t taking any breaks. Basically, I just want to continue to go up in the ranks, and just keep making moves and building up my profile. I’ve got a lot of the things in the works, so I’m excited to keep it moving.