Q&A: D.R.A.M. on Erykah Badu, what to get mom for Christmas
Shelley Massenburg-Smith loves being D.R.A.M.
If there’s one thing you can learn from 10 minutes on the phone with the 28year-old musician, it’s that.
It’s no wonder: The singer-rapper has checked off more career milestones in two years than most artists do in a lifetime. Consider that D.R.A.M.’s first Colorado show was Red Rocks, for September’s Mad Decent Block Party. Then, consider that in 2014, he was just releasing his first-ever group of songs, “#1EpicEP,” which was at the time barely anticipated in his adopted hometown of Hampton, Va., forget the world. (The son of a military mom, Massenburg-Smith was born in Germany.)
But one of that EP’s tracks was “Cha Cha.” Over a hastily sampled clip from Super Mario, D.R.A.M. went down a warp pipe: The song went viral in fits, and then — blessing among blessings — Beyoncé posted a video of herself dancing to it for her millions of Instagram followers.
Fast-forward to Dec. 2. D.R.A.M.’s latest single, “Broccoli,” has just gone double platinum. He’s calling from somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, gearing up to perform at Cali Christmas 2016, an annual holiday concert put on by Los Angeles’ hip-hop radio station Power 106 where he’ll share time with the likes of 2Chainz and former N.W.A. member Ice Cube.
Between puffs of weed, you can practically hear him grinning.
“For some odd reason, this record has grown into the fabric of America,” Massenburg-Smith said of “Broccoli.” “When we weren’t even sure if the song was going to do anything, it was on its way to double platinum. Now, we’re waiting on quadruple platinum.”
D.R.A.M. will bring “Broccoli” and the rest of his major-label debut, “Big Baby D.R.A.M.,” to Breckenridge’s Riverwalk Center on Dec. 10 in tandem with Dew Tour, a snowboarding festival. Tickets to the concert, which also features Joey Bada$$ and DJ A-Trak, are $37.50 via dewtour.com.
We talked to the artist about working with Erykah Badu, his favorite musical, and what to get your mom for Christmas.
Q: Your first show in Colorado was at Red Rocks, which is a huge feat. What was your impression of it?
A: Red Rocks is by far my favorite venue that I have performed at. The space, that atmosphere, the way it’s laid out and the people … they really love to show that love back.
Q: Erykah Badu features on “WiFi,” off your Atlantic debut “Big Baby D.R.A.M.” It must be almost disappointing to check off working with a legend of her stature so early on in your career.
A: You have no idea how ecstatic I am that we’re even at this point, making music at this level. She’s been a fan and a huge influence on my sound, so for her to embrace that and want to make music work with me … it’s another chapter of this book of dreams. One where you can’t turn the pages — the wind turns them naturally.
Q: You worked with 19-year-old rapper Lil Yachty on “Broccoli,” who wrote off hip-hop elders like Tupac and Biggie. Do you feel like these apostles of hip-hop are still the new generation of rap?
A: I feel like in general we need to stop criticizing one another for what each other’s generation feels and how they approach
things. It’s just like its always been: The younger generation is quote-unquote misunderstood. I was born in ’88, so I was around when (Tupac and Biggie) were still in the game. But my studies go deeper than just classic hip-hop, although it is a huge foundation.
Q: You grew up singing in a gospel choir. What other genres have a place in your heart?
A: I consider myself a funkateer. (Parliament Funkadelic’s) George Clinton, the (greatest of alltime) himself, told me I was a funkateer. I’m deep into the Hot Buttered Soul movement of the late sixties and early seventies. I also love doo-wop and musicals. “The Sound of Music” is my favorite musical.
Q: The holidays are here, and moms are impossible to shop for. What gift would you recommend getting mom?
A: Every woman appreciates very good perfume. A heartfelt card always means something, too. Put a small card there inside of the perfume box and put that in a ballin-type purse.
If all else fails, go to those ladies that are superduper hip in the middle of the Macy’s — the ones with the glass all around them, where it smells so good — and ask them, “What would you kill to have here?”
Q: You’re going to be performing in Breckenridge. Are you going to get out on the slopes at all?
A: Somebody over there sent me a snowboard, so I might try to get on top of one of those jumps if it has training wheels. If it doesn’t … I don’t know. I can’t be out there on a crutch. It does look fun, though. I might try it anyway.
D.R.A.M. will play the Dew Tour at Breckenridge’s Riverwalk Center on Dec. 10.
D.R.A.M. performs at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver during the Family Matters Tour in November 2015. Denver Post file