D.R.A.M. came into the Internet Music World’s consciousness with last year’s slow-burning hit “Cha Cha,” an instant-sing-a-long, infectiously dancy song that remains very relevant as Drake may or may not have low-key jacked it for his latest hit, “Hotline Bling.” 

Regardless of how D.R.A.M. – pronounced drAHm, stands for Does Real Ass Music – may feel about being Drake’s inspiration after the Giant Success of “Hotline Bling”, he’s got the ‘cooler’ record in the conversation, and more eyes, ears, etc on him than ever. 

His new EP, GAHDAMN!, has D.R.A.M. really flexing his vocal chops, to the extent that there is a full-on-old-fashioned duet in “Caretaker.” 

The last minute of “Fax” has multiple vocal layers of D.R.A.M. crooning, coupled with some quiet harmonies in the background while the beat meanders to its eventual end, one of a couple moments on this EP that is reminiscent of a less-focused Outkast (which is a compliment.) 

“Wit The Sh*ts” is another such moment, starting a little all over the place – vocal samples, vocals, horns, guitar, a swirling synth vaguely reminiscent of the first YouTube result for That Sound Effect In Rap Music – and D.R.A.M. seeming to struggle to hit a couple of the notes in his first verse. But midway through the song he comes in with an unexpected rapped verse, and is doing some halfway decent storytelling. It really brings the track together. 

The standout track is the earworm-laden“$” (feat. Donnie Trumpet). Donnie Trumpet is actually a trumpet player. “Woke up this morning like/I’m finna make a million,” sings D.R.A.M. over quiet keys and understated percussion. 

The song rises up to the hook where Donnie comes in with those, sweet trumpets, then falls halfway down again and then comes back up before riding out into the sunset. This song is probably best played at the end of a D.R.A.M. set as the entire crowd sings along to every word. 

In an increasingly homogeneous rap/R&B landscape, D.R.A.M. is certainly carving his own lane, and for his little missteps, songs like this are real indicators of his potential. 

- Mike Skwark

Published in Volume 70, Number 9 of The Uniter (November 5, 2015)

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