HHW: A personal favorite on the project is “1#EPICRANT (Ode To The Struggle Rappers),” because it’s a song that shows your lyrical prowess. What inspired that record?
D.R.A.M.: It’s a song that’s intended to show people where I came from. I always incorporated melody and singing into my music, because I knew it would set me apart. But I had this big chip on my should, when I’d say, “Bruh, I gotta have these bars.” I broke free from that for the most part with this project, but I had to have one song that was an overhaul of bars.
The song also represents the area. If you hear artists who are making noise at local showcases, a lot their music sounds like that; complaining or speaking on the struggle, but very passionately. My track is half and half. I wanted to show my skills, but I wanted to poke fun at how people give it up in the 757.
HHW: Q-Tip recently paid homage on Twitter. How did you react?
D.R.A.M.: It was so crazy. When I was in NYC for CMJ, we went to the club Tip was deejaying at. His manager had me come meet him at the DJ booth. Tip told me he loved the record, so my head is gone. I’m tripping. I’m talking to f*cking Q-Tip, and I’ve never really been outside of my hometown. Meanwhile, I’m looking at this man in his face and he’s hype about my record.
About an hour later when we’re in the club, he drops “Cha Cha” and runs it back like three times. Everyone was looking confused at first, but by the end of the session, when he’s deep into the song, everyone was cha cha’ing with their ladies. It was like an older crowd. They were dancing. I’m swimming thru the crowd, watching people enjoy my song.
It was a crazy feeling, because Tip was playing it. Then the next day he went to Twitter about it. Much love to Q Tip. That’s big homie.
HHW: The 757 has a history of artists that includes legends like The Neptunes, Timbaland, Teddy Riley, and Missy Elliott. But you’re in a new wave of artists. What do you think differentiates the new artists from the legends?
D.R.A.M.: I can only speak for myself. We’re on a constant. My camp has kind of considered this. During that golden era [of 757 artists] in the mid 90s to the mid 2000s–particularly the late 90s to mid 2000s–that conglomerate of Virginia heat was coming through. They were doing their sh*t in house, working with each other. It set the basis for how to do it for artists from out here.
I don’t think that we’re trying to do something different than what’s been done. We’re just trying to do it our way and pay homage to the foundation that the Virginia titans have laid in front of us. The way that they attacked the music industry was crazy. My camp just wants to kill it on some family sh*t.