D.R.A.M., the Virginia singer, producer and rapper dropped his major debut studio album appropriately titled ‘Big Baby D.R.A.M.’ back in October 2016. While D.R.A.M. fought back against the rip-off of “Cha Cha” by Drake (SNAKE), he crafted a melodic, enlightening, positive and varied project that sees influence from Hip-Hop, Jazz, Rock and Blues. This would only make sense since some of his influencers are George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Erykah Badu. Unfortunately, only two of those three names appear on the album, but hopefully, we’ll see D.R.A.M. collaborate with the other two on future projects.
The first track, “Get It Myself” produced by Nico Segal (Donnie Trumpet) is a smooth, solo Nu-Jazz funk record. The distorted drums and light claps give the album an airy introduction as well as the potential talent that harbours inside D.R.A.M. The second track, begins with repetitive keys, Jazz drums as well as striking guitar interceptions. D.R.A.M.’s vocals sound raspier and more aggressive than the previous record. At first, I didn’t really enjoy the over-auto-tuned vocals and contrast of style that Young Thug performed on “Misunderstood”. However, as time went by, I got used to them. However, from a Thugger fans perspective, it is one of his lackluster features as his vocals are barely audible at times and his flow is sometimes off.
One of the more Rap-orientated tracks, “Monticello Ave” sees Big Baby cooly rapping and blessing the chorus with his sweet melodies. The piano keys throughout, similar to those that could have been heard on ‘Baduizm‘ see that although D.R.A.M is a subject of multiple genres and artists, he displays their influence effortlessly in minor production, vocals or lyrics. This is a definite standout and the heavy interjection of the quick Trap h-hats towards the end only support my previous comment.
Out of the three features that appear on the album, the one that shines the most and compliments D.R.A.M.’s beautiful melodic whispers are on the ‘Netflix & Chill’ track “WiFi” that features the always vocally impressive Erykah Badu. She glides over the beat like a shooting star on a warm summer night. The twos styles are so similar, vocally, it’s a surprise that the two hadn’t worked together before. However, an apparent EP is on the way from the two and I CAN’T FUCKING WAIT FOR THAT SMOOTH SHIT. Even when the two sing on top of each other at the end for the outro, the contrast in voices just mixes so well, you can’t deny the chemistry between them. This song only reminds me of “Fire & Desire” by Rick James & Teena Marie.
Finally, there are the other standouts. While I’m not a fan of Lil Yachty (Lil Boat), his monotone verse on the infectous “Broccoli” is just about enough of him. While the track has been repeated to death by radios (and myself) it’s an indication that D.R.A.M can make your typical radio hit. “Cute”, the Charlie Heat BANGER is another standout. A glitchy hi-hats and snares, bumping 808’s and a Lo-Fi harmonica that plays minimally in the back make this track all that smooth but giving it a more contemporary sound and vision compared to the regular subject matter explored on this track. “Password” and “Change My #” are also stand-alone hits, however, the tracks are outweighed by the fillers.
In all, it’s a great album. It shows the diversity of D.R.A.M.’s musical abilities, the focus on how he sounds over particular beats and that he is the new face of contemporary R&B. While there are only a few standout tracks that really show off his talent, there’s no doubt that Big Baby is an artist to keep an eye out for.