D.R.A.M. “Cha Cha”

D.R.A.M.’s music career began in the now-defunct Coliseum Mall in Hampton, Virginia. It was hardly a place for experimentation, let alone the kind of rule-breaking rap that the rising rapper and singer has taken to making in the years since. But it was a start. “One day, my dude Key hit me up like, ‘Yo! Come over to the mall. It’s a dude here with a booth, and he’s fucking with our raps. Bring your verses,’” D.R.A.M. remembers, talking over the phone in a voice that suggests a smile. Sure enough, there was a dude, Soul, who had been stationed at the nearby naval base in Norfolk and had returned to Hampton to invest $4,000 in a middle-of-the-mall recording booth with a mic and laptop. D.R.A.M. laid down 16 bars on the song his friend Key had started, and “niggas at the booth lost it.”

Last month, nine years after that initial recording session, D.R.A.M. dropped his debut project #1EPICSUMMER, which mostly features contributions from local producers, including A$AP-affiliated beat-making group, VERY RVRE. The tape is an upbeat seesaw of raps over airy, percussive beats and singing that sounds like it’s straight out of a church choir. But as smooth as his music comes across in the tape, D.R.A.M took a long time to get to this point.

With Features both on Noisey AND VH1 ( Not To Mention Beyonce’s Instagram ) , D.R.A.M. is the feel good sound of Summer 2015