D.R.A.M. Reveals How One Epic Summer Changed Everything (Interview)

D.R.A.M.‘s name might be new to your ears, but the Hampton, Virginia creative has been at it for years. At the moment, he is probably most well known for his hugely popular single, “Cha Cha,” but that is only one facet of his unique brand of artistry. D.R.A.M.’s recently released project, #1EPICSUMMER, draws influence from modern futuristic hip-hop, Bootsy Collins, and Virginia culture to create an infectious, unique brand of music. Read on below to learn more about D.R.A.M. through his own words.

The reaction to #1EPICSUMMER has been impressive, to say the least. Did you always see it happening this way?
I expected a good response. I didn’t expect it to be this good, this fast. I’d have to say yes, and no. I was expecting positive reviews, but not on a scale this large.

You’ve gotten a lot of recognition as of late, to include features from Noisey and Pigeons&Planes. What has been your most surreal moment so far?
Chad Hugo (of N.E.R.D. and The Neptunes) retweeted the project. I felt like I was a boss. I walked into work backwards the next day, and told everyone I wasn’t doing shit. Seriously. They fired me, lowkey. Like, last week they made me quit. But it’s alright. Fuck a nine to five, bruh.

If you had to describe yourself to a complete stranger, what would you say?
I would describe myself as being undescribable. I can’t explain myself because I’m always trying to reinvent myself. I can’t put my finger on exactly who I am, so I would never expect anyone else to be able to explain it either.

When I first heard “Feet In The Water,” I was immediately drawn in, but I didn’t imagine #1EPICSUMMER turning out the way it did.
“Feet In The Water” dropped early in the game. We didn’t even know what we were going to do. We didn’t even know we were going to make an entire project until summer hit. When “Feet In The Water” dropped, that was just a record. It’s a blessing that we could still make it fit on the actual project.

Did your summer experiences working with Gabe spark the #1EPICSUMMER title?
Hell yeah, man. It was probably the dopest summer I ever had. I spent it doing a lot of shit that I don’t normally do. What’s ironic is that it was still all in the same area. It was almost like on Grand Theft Auto, when you finish a certain amount of missions and they open up a different part of the city. You’re just like “damn,” and they have three new cars. You hop out of your car and get the new one, and now you’re riding in style.

How did you and Gabe first connect?
I hit Gabe up around this time last year, actually. I heard a lot of the stuff that he and Sunny had going on. I was blown away. It sounded nothing like anything else in our area. It always rung in my head when he told me that he had mixed their project. I talked to him about the possibility of him mixing my project, and he told me it would cost $4oo. Later, he told me he was curving me, but I didn’t think he was curving me. I said “fuck it,” got some money from my peoples. I gave him my project.

This is actually a project that has yet to be released. I don’t know if we will release it or not. But, I had a whole project ready to be released when I reached out to Gabe. I told him that I didn’t want him to work with me unless he really liked the project. It took him over two weeks to get back with me. I was blowing his phone up the whole time. I’m a real persistent cat. I finally got him on the phone and was just like, “what the fuck, I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.” He told me to calm down, and ended up loving the project. Long story short, we ended up starting a solid musical relationship. From then on, it’s never been the same. I’ve really been able to broaden my sound.

Everything on #1EPICSUMMER sounds so authentic. Are these all true stories?
Hell yeah. I can’t give it to you any other way but from my own experience, and my own eyes. I can’t respect anyone’s artistry, if it’s not truly representative of who they are. I don’t care what you say, if it’s not your life you’re faking the funk.

If you could work with one artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
Man. Only one? It would have to be Bootsy Collins. George Clinton is the Godfather, but Bootsy was that dude. When he ventured out, his shit was funky. He just made really good, love making music. It still had that weirdness to it, too. I feel like we’d just make some magic.

How long have you lived in Virginia? Would you say that it has had an influence on your music?
I was born in Germany. My mother was in the military. We were stationed somewhere out there, but all I know is Virginia. This whole area is not too fast, but not too slow. You can literally find any drug or problem you want out here. It builds a sense of mysteriousness. That’s why people can’t put their finger on what defines Virginia people. We’re exposed to a lot. We can drive 10 miles one way and be in a city, or drive 10 miles that way and be in the country. The people who really blew up in our area are gigantic.


What do you have planned to follow up the success of #1EPICSUMMER?
The second phase of this promotional movement. I have my management and legal team together. We’re really ready to take this world by storm. At first it was some really off the hip, impromptu stuff. There was no plan. Now we’re focusing on how to maneuver and take over on a worldwide scale. If anything, I might have an EP to drop some time in the future. I have a few features dropping. My homeboy Black Zheep DZ is set to drop with his project on October 14th.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Man. I always look at things in a humorous light, but in all seriousness I don’t see myself slowing down. I see me being very successful.

You have serious moments throughout #1EPICSUMMER, but there is a lot of humor thrown into your music as well.
It just comes naturally. When I get serious, there’s some wild shit going on in my life, or something that really makes me upset. Other than that, you can count on me for fun damn near every time you see me.

You had your first show in Washington, D.C. recently, with Bombay Knox. How was that?
It was cool, it was definitely a new scene for me. The people received it well. It felt very genuine. I connected with JR Rubin. It was cool, it was jiggy. We drove three hours out, got high, and we did what we did.

A manifesto is a declaration of intents and principles. What is your Artistic Manifesto?
I write my shit. You can’t take it from me. It’s my show. I’m always down to incorporate others into my show, and to be a part of others’ show. I’m really easy to get along with, but I might not be as easy to work with. I want my music to be pure. I want it to be right. I write my shit and I say what goes. When I work with someone, I push hard to make sure that what we come up with is the best that we can put out.

Watch recent footage from D.R.A.M.’s performance at Gabe Niles’s birthday party below, and check out #1EPICSUMMER in full afterwards.