There was a period earlier this winter when the only thing that could make me smile was listening to D.R.A.M.’s infectious, genre-bending “Cha Cha.” As the process of making music is slowly co-opted by capitalism, it feels more and more precious to stumble upon an artist who is creating music in their little corner of the world for the sheer joy of it. The delight contained in this song oozes out of the totally unlikely Latin music sample and the masterfully-placed, winking Super Mario Bros. snippets, all tied together with a floor-shaking bass line. Then there’s his singing (rapping??) in a golden gospel-tinged voice that takes throwaway phrases like “I saw you from across the bar” and twists them into meaningful moments that signify the promise and hope of a whole relationship in a mere six words.
Working out of his hometown in Hampton, Virginia, D.R.A.M. (that stands for “Does Real Ass Music” by the way) concocted “Cha Cha” and the rest of his #1EpicSummer mixtape with Gabe Niles of Sunny & Gabe. D.R.A.M. is currently in New York on business, and when we were discussing music this past weekend he told me that he wouldn’t make a musical decision without consulting Gabe first — that’s the kind of partnership they have. (For more of their work together you can check out another jubilant video, “I Luv It“).
In the visuals for “Cha Cha” — which arrive just as #1EpicSummer has been pared down to EP size for commercial release — D.R.A.M. disrupts quiet family dinners and parties with plenty of animated accompaniment before finishing up in a shower of confetti. Co-directed by Nathan R. Smith and D.R.A.M. himself with visual by GDBYM and animation from Casey Drogin, the video is truly a collaborative labor of love. If you’re looking for something to make you smile, look no further, but you’re also going to find one of the most innovative and individual artists I’ve encountered this year. Watch it below.
#1Epic EP is available now. Get it on iTunes.