Q&A: D.R.A.M. on Erykah Badu, what to get mom for Christ­mas

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Dy­lan Owens

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.

Pro­vided by The En­thu­si­ast Net­work

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

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