D.R.A.M. Wraps Up One Hell of a Year at His First Art Basel

Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic

D.R.A.M performs onstage during Power 106 Cali Christmas at The Forum on Dec. 2, 2016 in Inglewood, Calif.

Standing in the shiny bathroom of Miami’s new Ora nightclub — a more quiet setting for an interview than his bustling green room — D.R.A.M. is told, apparently for the first time, that his breakout single, “Broccoli,” surpassed 100 million YouTube views. “Swear to God?” he asks with the open-mouthed grin of a kid who was just shoved into a swimming pool full of ice cream. “We passed 100 million?”

He’s minutes from taking the stage for his first-ever Art Basel performance at a private pop-up party Saturday night (Dec. 3) presented by Treats magazine and the chic West Hollywood lounge Blind Dragon. 2016, a year D.R.A.M. refers to as “the immaculate level-up,” has had its share of firsts. But these 109 million views snuck up on him.

A pessimist might not buy the 28-year-old’s disbelief that a video with butts, a recorder solo, and Lil Yachty in a broccoli costume would go very viral. But phoniness is not in the man’s repertoire.  

“I can be nothing but thankful for 2016,” he says. Although it was a year lacking happy stories, D.R.A.M.’s emergence has been refreshing and his unselfish joy has resonated with fans in desperate need of such a beacon. Anyone seeking a warm and fuzzy feeling need only glance at the critically-praised Big Baby D.R.A.M. album cover — a glorious family portrait of D.R.A.M. and his elegant goldendoodle, Idnit, who’s sitting this Basel out.

Even on the eve of a Trump presidency, his optimism remains in tact. “We’re going to get through it,” says the 28-year-old. “We got through the Great Depression. We got through famines.”

When D.R.A.M finally greets Ora’s crowd around 2 a.m., his trademark zeal is on full display. It’s a club gig, which means there are plenty of breaks to give folks time to hit the bar. And, instead of a stage, D.R.A.M is relegated to a small square of DJ booth where he must strategically “Cha Cha” his way around laptops.

Art Basel 2016 proved to be a massive event for hip-hop. Visiting performers included Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, Rae Sremmurd and even one of D.R.A.M’s personal heroes, Pusha T. He was honored to join their ranks. “It makes more sense that we held out and came this year because I would have just been going as a fan instead of going as someone who’s booked for something,” he says.

Though the crowd at Ora is a mix of both fans and Basel-hoppers Instagraming their way around Miami, D.R.A.M. gives it his all. When the choppy piano of “Broccoli” charges in, everyone whips their heads around to watch him shimmy in grey sweatpants.

It’s hard for D.R.A.M. to think about the future with so much happening in the now, but he does have a few goals for 2017. His dream is to collaborate with Stevie Wonder, and he’s eager to expose more layers of himself to fans. “I just want everyone to know that as time goes on, more of that bar will be unraveled,” he says. “There’s a reason there’s a lot of mystery. I’m not going to give you all of it. And like the great Gucci said: ‘This ain’t even half my jewelry.’”