D.R.A.M., Rookie of the Year


Take two simple piano chords and add a kick drum and a sub-bass that never coincide, circling each other like two sheepish middle-schoolers at a dance. Add in the most polarizing and innovative Atlanta artist since Future, a red-haired rebel who references a school shooting within two bars. Mix a heartfelt verse about success borne from hard work with a chorus about smoking weed and flirting at a party. What sounds like a recipe for disaster became a sublime double-platinum hit in the capable hands of D.R.A.M.

The Virginia native was inescapable in the back half of 2016. “Broccoli” and other bangers from his debut boomed out of speakers as long as the weather was warm enough to leave the windows open. He was propelled to new heights by his feature on Chance The Rapper’s album, warbling a child-like affirmation that would have felt corny coming from anyone else. Like Chance, D.R.A.M. is driven by a relentless positivity that makes his music feel like a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal year. When he performed at Taste of Chicago, it felt like the entire city swayed together as he crooned “everyone is special.” D.R.A.M. certainly is, and we’re lucky to have him.

Originally published on NDSMCObserver.

2016Jack Riedy