Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. D.R.A.M.

The Virginia rapper/singer discusses his post-"Broccoli" fame, working with Erykah Badu, and how he came up with the best album cover of the year.

By  Rohan Nadkarni

It wasn’t all that long ago that Shelley Massenburg-Smith—a.k.a. D.R.A.M.—was living a lifestyle he now bluntly describes as “broke as fuck,” with his music dreams on the back burner as he struggled to find his footing in the world of hip hop. D.R.A.M. is in a much happier place now, though, with a tour on the horizon, a breakout hit (“Broccoli,” which has gone double platinum since its release in April), and his first studio album, Big Baby D.R.A.M., set to drop on Friday.

While “Broccoli” is fun, fresh and youthful (thanks in part to a guest verse from Lil Yachty), Big Baby a more varied offering than what you’d expect based off its hit single—in the best way possible. Calling it hip-hop would be a disservice to the album’s sultrier, smoother sounds, but calling it R&B would gloss over the funkier elements of many of the tracks. In his studio debut, D.R.A.M. offers multiple vibes. It’s a deeply personal work and a worthy offering in a banner year of releases from hip hop’s young generation of stars.

The final song on the album, the old-school flavored “Sweet Va. Breeze,” was actually recorded three years ago; D.R.A.M. had a falling-out with the producer who helped him with the track, but the two reconciled over some trees back in Virginia while the album was still a work in progress.

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