Right off the bat, I am a fan of D.R.A.M, but had been iffy on some of the features I had heard from him in the past 12 months. I absolutely loved his breakout single “Cha Cha” (Drake definitely appropriated this for “Hotline Bling), so I hoped he would recapture some of the fun and charm from that single. For me, what makes him so enjoyable is not only his quirky, very ODB-esque vocals but also how his lyrics tend to be fun spins on typical hip hop tropes. This isn’t to say some of his music doesn’t utilise these stereotypes however the way in which he does it is filled with this underlying joy as opposed to the hostile tone alot of rappers tend to use.
All in all, this album is largely a fun listen, many highlights with only a few songs I deemed very skippable. One song that I had mixed emotions about was the lead single, “Broccoli”. I know I’ve already written on how much I think Lil Yachty sucks however he’s not that bad on this. I mean he’s not good but I’ve heard much worse from him. The beat is so fun and really puts a smile on my face however his delivery saps all the energy from the song and it really lacks the happy nature of D.R.A.M’s verses. Aredeeming factor is the fact that his auto-tuned mumbles can kind of fade into the background making them a bit more bearable. Like I said, not his worse but I’m not ready to retract my earlier statements on him sucking ass just yet.
On the other hand, Young Thug sounds great on the song “Misunderstood” with his energy and delivery being exactly what the track demanded from a guest feature. His sometimes jarring and often ridiculed delivery is actually very fitting on this track, tonally it’s spot on and I can’t believe I’m waxing lyrical about a Thugga Thugga verse. Either way, Yachty take notes. This how you use the auto tune mumble rap to good effect. The whole song is just more of a fun listen and the grand guitar chords and piano riffs mixed with the delivery of the chorus beg the listener to sing along (as I do every time). Also, sharp ears may hear what can be deemed a shot at Drake on this track, “n*ggas tried to appropriate me” which could be seen as a reference to the whole Cha Cha/Hotline Bling issue. Very nice track regardless.
Another highlight of this album for me was “In a Minute/ In House”. Now this song really shows why he draws some ODB comparisons, which I’m sure is referenced in the title of the album (Big Baby Jesus being just one of the late ODB’s many monikers). At least in the first half of the song, the second seems like a more traditional RnB tune. The chorus of the first half especially I could almost hear the legendary Wu-Tang rapper singing with his trademark harmonies. I love love love the beat on this, it’s sparse and dark, letting the vocals fill in all the gaps. Needless to say I listened with the stank face every time the bass kicks in. The second half of the song is a bit so-so to me, not as entertaining as some of the record and that leads me into what the main negative about this album is for me. It really had me confused, because the more serious funk and soul influenced style of music on this album is really where D.R.A.M’s at his technical best, and the music is good. However, when these songs are on the same album as songs like the ones I have mentioned, to me they began to feel like an unwelcome change of pace. The really playful nature of these songs, such as “Cash Machine” and “Cute” I absolutely love, and although I know these are the songs crafted for radio, they are very good songs anyway. Then there are songs such as “WiFi ft Erykah Badu”, “Change My #” and “Password” which are by no means bad songs, but they just can’t match the infectious energy of the other songs. Ideally what I’d love is a Danny Brown on Old type of Side A/Side B album with the fun songs on one side and the real jazzy soul music on the other. Both are good but they are such different moods, I don’t feel that they gel very well on this.
Verdict on D.R.A.M – An amazingly talented guy, a lot of fun to listen. I just wish he would separate his two sounds a bit more to make them more easily digestible.