D.R.A.M.’s song “Cha Cha” wasn’t an instant hit. The song was made in late 2014, but it wasn’t until a series of co-signs throughout 2015 that it slowly and surely became a part of the public consciousness—first Chance The Rapper, then Snoop Dogg, then Beyoncé. (And “Hotline Bling,” Drake’s “Cha Cha”-flavored hit certainly didn’t hurt, either.)
The year is approaching an end, but “Cha Cha” is still spreading, hitting radio stations one by one across the country and weaving its way into mainstream culture. For many, following up a sleeper hit like “Cha Cha” would be a daunting task, but the Virginia singer/rapper/producer isn’t stressing.
How has your life changed since “Cha Cha”?
It’s been attention, good vibes, and success… on crack. It’s fuckin’ crazy. It started spreading very fast once Pigeons & Planes blasted it out. Once we dropped the video in March, it had another push. Then superstars started liking it, influential people were getting behind it. Now I’m getting gigs, and I’m not broke anymore. It’s all crazy!
Do you think the song has peaked?
On certain platforms, people will say that it peaked. For instance, urban radio. But when we went into this thing, we knew the song wasn’t necessarily urban. It has wide appeal. It’s steadily growing in Rhythmic and should be moving towards Top 40 in the next couple of months. But the song is definitely growing, especially for something that’s kind of old. I mean, at the MTV VMAs they played the record right after the big award! Look, the world holds about seven billion people—it’s not even close to being peaked out.
Are you worried at all about following this up?
Absolutely not. I’m about to fuck niggas up, for real.
You don’t even feel the pressure?
I feel all types of feelings, man. But I’m about to fuck shit up. I’ve been keeping quiet about a lot.
Can you tell us about any specific plans?
Expect an installment of music right before I go on tour. After touring with Chance The Rapper, I’ll focus on touring on my own in the beginning of 2016. Then I’ll be pushing for the #1EPICsequel EP.
Of all the co-signs, is there anyone that stands out as particularly cool or supportive?
Snoop Dogg, just in the sense of how laid-back he is. Also Rick Rubin, for the fact that he’s actually a fan of mine. I’ve been over there five or six times already and I can honestly say that he’s a friend of mine. We talk a lot over e-mail. To have someone of that stature behind me is mad dope. Also, I met Kanye. He’s cool as fuck. I didn’t really make it a public thing.
When did you meet him?
The last time I was at Rick Rubin’s. A few weeks ago.
Are you working with him?
We were just catching vibes for the most part. I can’t really go too far into it—you know how that is. A lot people are secretive about things these days because the internet is to the point where you can just drop it and it’s gonna do what it do. It’s not like back in the day with commercials leading up to a project. I just take it as it comes.
Also Mark Ronson, he’s really cool. We’ve been working on some tracks. I just run into people and they be trying to work so it’s like, “Aight, bet.”
When you go on your own tour, do you have any idea of what you want your show to look like?
I’ll probably start incorporating a band once I start touring on my own. Right now my setup is a DJ, me, whoever I bring out, whatever. It’s a good point to build from. When I incorporate a band, it’s gonna be a whole new thing. D.R.A.M. and his band.
I see you’re all over the place these days, doing interviews and shows. Do you ever get tired of it all or is this exactly what you wanted?
The definitive points are when your back is against the wall and everything isn’t on the up and up. Sometimes I get tired, but at the end of the day, I got to do it. It’s the love of music, it’s the love of people loving my music. I don’t ever want that to stop. I know that I gotta work even harder if I want to get further than I am right now.
‘Cha Cha’ is one hell of a record to start it off, but it’s definitely not the definitive record of D.R.A.M.
What do you want to accomplish in 2016?
I want a Grammy.
Do you have any thoughts on music streaming and Spotify versus TIDAL versus Apple Music? Where do you think it’s all going?
It’s like this: You got Cartoon Network, you got Nickelodeon, and you got the Disney Channel. I like watching cartoons, and me personally, I keep it on Cartoon Network. Some people I know, they switch from Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, some people I know only watch Disney Channel. Overall it’s all the same message, you know? Animation built for kids with undertones and humor that adults can get with. That’s basically it. There’s room for more than one. They’ve all shown love in different ways, so I got love for them all.
What do you want your legacy to be? What kind of impact do you want to make on people when they hear your music?
I want them to know that, every time—every time for certain—they’re getting realness from this man, emotion from this man. “Cha Cha” is one hell of a record to start it off, but it’s definitely not the definitive record of D.R.A.M.. The legacy, if I continue to do what I’m doing, will speak for itself. It goes past music, it’ll go further than music—film, television, things of that nature. Real empire shit. Momma ain’t raise no fool, you know? I’m 27, I’m at that put-up-or-shut-up age. I gotta make it happen.
I can see myself directing a movie or writing a screenplay within the next five to 10 years. Music and movies, it’s what I fuck with.
And weed! [Laughs]