Hip-Hop Wired: #1EPICSUMMER sounds a lot like it’s an album. Did you approach making the project like an LP or mixtape?
D.R.A.M.: I can honestly say that it’s like a little bit of both. This was the first project that put people on [to my music]. Essentially, we set out to make a mixtape, but over time it felt like it was more than that. But it’s still a mixtape.
We focused on making good music. Not necessarily focusing on how people would perceive my first body of work. We just wanted to hit [listeners] off with a bang.
HHW: At what point in recording the project did you think, “Oh, we got something special?”
D.R.A.M.: It’s so crazy, because as the songs were coming along, it wasn’t really set on to be like, ‘at this point we have something here.’ By the time we had about 20 songs ready, we said lets compile something from it.
I think we knew we had something cold on our hands was when we made “Cha Cha.” We always knew that the song would be the one people would cling to most. It might not be the best song on the project] in my eyes, but we knew we had one when “Cha Cha” was performed and we saw how people responded.
HHW: Is the title literal in a sense that the project is based on summer 2014?
D.R.A.M.: I’d say at least 70 to 80 percent of the project was recorded in the summer and most of the content is based on that time. Aside from the fact that the music was created in the summertime, it was the first summer of the rest of my life. It was an eye opener to a lot of things and a whole new environment of people who are interested in my sound. I went to New York City for the first time, besides some tourist sh*t. I felt like it was perfect to coin the project that.
HHW: How did you connect with producer Gabe of Gabe and Sunny, who helped you shape the project?
D.R.A.M.: We’re both from the 757. He lives in south Norfolk. I’m from Hampton, but I’m usually across the water [in Norfolk] for the most part. But we’re some the same area, pretty much.
HHW: Were you two longtime friends?
D.R.A.M.: We knew each for two years from doing events and sh*t. Gabe DJs a lot of events out here. Back in the early days, when I was doing little showcases, we would cross paths and it was always a mutual respect between us.
It wasn’t until the end of 2013 when I reached out randomly. I caught on to Sunny and Gabe’s music. They blew me away, because it didn’t sound like anything from this area. I reached out and over the course of some time, we said we might was well make music together. Long story short.
HHW: While Gabe produced a bulk of the project, it was Kain Solo who produced “Cha Cha” right?
D.R.A.M.: I found the beat and it was dope as a b*tch. It was just the loop with the drum kits, or whatever; it was intended to get the crowd hype during shows.
I sent it to Gabe, and I guess he didn’t check it out. Then I bugged him about it and he finally listened to it, but he never said anything about the record. I hit him back like, “What’s good?” He replies, “I’m about to send you something.” When I listen, Gabe actually revamped the whole layout of the song with claps, the hi voice and effects. So “Cha Cha” was actually a collab.