D.R.A.M., “Big Baby D.R.A.M.”

Big Baby D.R.A.M. album cover by BoootlegD.R.A.M.
Big Baby D.R.A.M.
ATLANTIC/EMPIRE/W.A.V.E.

6/10

To love Big Baby D.R.A.M. is not the same as thinking it’s actually any good. To love it is to relinquish the way that hip-hop is supposed to sound, is supposed to act, is. To love it is to celebrate that special kind of pop genius—to vaunt the work of a musician who seems to tap into the zeitgeist without having any idea what the zeitgeist was doing (“Cha Cha,” whose beat you might recognize), and then instead of holing up or doubling down, births his own zeitgeist around whatever it is he’s doing instead of whatever it is that he’s supposed to.

To love D.R.A.M. is to love small but important gestures—the demure introduction of Erykah Badu on “WiFi,” in which he gives her all the space in the world; the Kanye-like interlude on “Change My #,” in which he answers a call and puts that answered call on the record, feigning nothing, just being mundane, “beyond all that fuck shit,” as he says elsewhere—and then to return for his effortless melodicism, “Cute” and “Outta Sight,” “Broccoli” and “Cash Machine” burned irrevocably into your brain tissue. To hear it is to know it is now there, in you—to witness to the primeval ways your brain will form whole lifetimes of neural networks around the most elemental of patterns.

To love Big Baby D.R.A.M. is to admit that the Virginia rapper is still struggling to carry a full record, that huge chunks of it meander to the point of pointlessness, that the mid-album run of impeccable singles are minimalist masterpieces—no fat, no fault—but that elsewhere D.R.A.M. has nothing to say and no real interesting way to say it. To love D.R.A.M. is to know that his aimlessness is instinctual, and that his instincts are gold. To love Big Baby D.R.A.M. is to know he’ll eventually do so much better.

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