- Words Mike Vinti
Virginia's DRAM is like Ol' Dirty Bastard if he wasn't old, dirty or a bastard. We meet the Grammy-nominated singer/ rapper/ goofball for this week's Internet Crush.
DRAM is, to use an official term, a singin-ass rapper. Hailing from Virginia and specialising in a relentlessly upbeat brand of hip hop, delivered always with his trademarked grin, he’s been nominated for Grammys, worked with Erykah Badu and been compared to the likes Ol’ Dirty Bastard. More than any of that though, he’s responsible for some of best singles of the last few years, including but not limited to ‘Broccoli ft. Lil Yachty’, ‘Cash Machine’ and ‘Cha Cha’. Beyonce’s a fan and if you’re not already you should be too.
Earlier this month he released his new EP That’s A Girl’s Name (DRAM’s real name is Shelley Massenburg-Smith) a three track EP that showcases DRAM’s singing side more than ever, drawing on his love of Parliament-Funkadelic. Because he’s the eternal king of summer hip hop, we spent a little time with DRAM following the EP’s release for this week’s Internet Crush.
Do you remember your dreams? Tell us about a recent dream you’ve had…
I had a dream that I beat the Golden State Warriors. Everyone was running in slow motion but was fucking with it. And I was thinking it was damn near impossible with the squad I was running with, so I was really excited. But then I woke up… and it wasn’t true.
Have you ever committed a crime (or done something illegal)? If so what did you do and were there consequences?
Nope, no crimes. All smiles. Good love.
What is the closest you’ve ever come to death?
Oh shit… When I was 12 years old…this one was creepy coz it was so close. I was riding my bike across the street, and there was this big ass bus, and I’m thinking “ok, he’s gonna stop” but he just beeped his horn, and I fucking missed his tire by like maybe 6 inches or whatever. That shit was terrible. My heart was about to jump out my ass.
Describe your sound in three words…
One ofa kind. That’s three words!
What’s your star sign? (and are you a typical *whatever your sign is*?)
I’m a Leo. I am THE Leo.
When was the first time you had your heart broken?
I was 16. It wasn’t really heartbreak, but it was like the first time I got to feel my pride getting hurt. I had a car in the 11th grade, that was real, real rare to have a car that young. Actually to have a car period was rare. My brother had this one girl that was like the baddest little thing, and she said her friend wanted to chill with me, and I’m like “oh, word?… alright you know, whatever”. So we ride together in my car for a bit, me, her and my homeboys. But one day, gaddam, we was going to the movies, and we was in a bookstore beforehand, and my cousin pulls me to the side and tells me that the girl told my boy she really wanted to chill with him and was just trying to catch a ride from me because I had a car. Bro, when I found out about that… I got a real early experience of people using you for your possessions. Now you’re guilty until proven innocent with me.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Oh my god, Christina Vidal. Taina.
What would your biography be called?
All Vices at Once, Please.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
I’ve written a lot of rap verses and shit like that, coz when I was 16 I wanted to be a rapper you know. I think the first song that I can remember singing and having in my head was this shit called ‘Rubber Glue’. I made it when I was like 18 I think. It was like a real Boyz II Men, doo-wap kinda thing. It’s real cute… but I don’t sing it. It’s about a girl… a beautiful woman.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Never go into a situation expecting a no. That was told to me by Rick Rubin, and that shit hit so hard. He said, “never go into a situation expecting a no, never speak in a manner like you’re expecting a no”. So say you approached a girl and say “hey, put your number in my phone”, you should do that rather than “you don’t want to put my number in your phone, do you?” That way it’s like you’re giving the alley-oop for the no, you’re making it easy. Never go into a situation with no on your mind, don’t set it up for someone to easily say no.
How was high school?
Haha, a process, but trust the process. That’s all I can say.
What’s the biggest problem facing humans as a species?
The facade that we have to put on regarding how we personally feel about any-old-thing. That censorship is my number one issue with fucking society. Like, oh my god, It’s getting to a point where it’s unbearable, so that’s why you don’t hear anything from me in regards to what’s going on in the world. Let’s just keep the good times rolling. My #1 problem with human society is censorship, to be honest.
Describe your own personal idea of hell…
Fucking, clocking in and out of work every fucking day. I’m talking 6 or 7 days a week just to pay the bills but deep down inside you really want to do your passion. Hell is where you’re living a regular life, and you have to give up on what you really wanna live life for. When you’re not even living for what you want to do in life, that’s my hell.
What’s a lie you’ve told and what was the fallout?
That I would call somebody back, or I’ll text you right back. Actually, I’ll pay you right back! I’m terrible at paying back my friends’ money.I just stay forgetting!
Which talent would you most like to have? (and why)
Man, I really wish I could play the piano fluently and be able to write and score my own music that I want to produce. I have so many ideas when it comes to just like, melodies and styles and genres and like progression. I do a lot of directional producing, like 60’s/70’s style producing, telling people what to do. But to actually be able to do it myself, to sit down there and be my own musician. Fuck. That’s one talent that I really wish I had.
What’s one thing we can all do to contribute to equality?
We need to be more original and stop stealing shit from people, especially as creatives. Speaking for the state of where artistry is right now, just stop stealing shit, stop just doing what the next man’s doing. And then when you try and say that it’s your own, you’re doing nothing but exuding a huge amount of pretentious, false energy.
When was the last time you cried and why?
When I watched Coco a couple weeks ago. Coz damn dude, that nigga stole his granddad’s whole swag n shit and was the bomb in the afterlife… I dunno movies make me cry a lot.
Where/What will you be doing at the end of the world?