Right now, Virginia-raised 28-year-old D.R.A.M. is hip-hop’s drunken master. His lovestruck, singing-in-the-shower style – imagine a cross between Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Chance the Rapper and a private-press R&B record from the Seventies – is bent, delirious and totally intoxicating. His pop-star coup is taking that moment in “La Di Da Di” where Slick Rick brokenly croons a few bars from “Sukiyaki,” and turning that into his main flow. He’s actually a pretty decent rapper too, as tracks like “Monticello Ave.” from his debut album Big Baby D.R.A.M. show, but there’s no doubt that the drawl is the draw.
When his novelty hit “Cha Cha,” an ode to Dominican ladies with a Super Nintendo sample and Magic School Bus shout-out, hit the Internet last year, D.R.A.M. became a fast favorite of Beyoncé (who danced to “Cha Cha” on Instagram), Chance (who gave him an interlude spotlight on Coloring Book called “D.R.A.M. Sings Special”) and Drake (who swagger-jacked “Cha Cha” for his monster hit “Hotline Bling”).
As Drake-endorsed viral hitmakers go, D.R.A.M. has already proven more durable than many, producing the Top 10 hit “Broccoli” and Big Baby D.R.A.M. shows his style is durable too – doing his instantly recognizable sing-song on a tune that sounds like a cinematic reboot of Billy Joel’s “Pressure” (“Misunderstood”) or working out his falsetto over some chiptune blips (“Cute”). Mostly he’s a lothario with a huge wink and grin, a modern Humpty Hump out to tell ladies “You don’t know what the fuck you been missing/I done learned ’bout eight new positions” or, on his hit “Broccoli,” rhyme “sleazily” with “greasily” in one of the sleaziest, greasiest choruses of the year. By album’s end, his thirsty messages are caught by his main squeeze: “Infiltration in 15 minutes,” he sings on “Password.” “I wish my password wasn’t my name.” Love or hate his broken style, he’s the Biz Markie for the era where it goes down in the D.M.