If the Grammys had a most improved rapper award, DreamDoll might grab the trophy. For now, she’s been collecting a steadily increasing monthly stream count, a new record deal, a slot on the soundtrack for Halle Berry’s Netflix movie, Bruised, and a bevy of YouTube commenters surprised at her progress as a rhyme technician.
Soon, though, the surprise should give way to expectation, as the fiery Bronx rhymer’s made a habit of leveling up with each release her latest being “You Know My Body” — a nostalgic, Capella Grey-assisted track from her forthcoming as-yet-untitled debut project on Warner Records.
Coasting over guitar-ripped production straight from Fabolous’ Lil’ Mo and Mike Shorey-assisted 2003 hit, “Can’t Let You Go,” DreamDoll evokes self-love as she flaunts a decisive flow and direct bars about ditching a romance. On other recent releases like “Tryouts,” or her electric verse on Erica Banks’ BeatKing-featured single “Toot That,” she lets loose sleek wordplay and tongue-in-cheek wit she didn’t have in her bag when she started rapping four years ago.
Those offerings are just the latest evidence that Dream’s in a new space. “I feel like my delivery, my flow, [and] just the way I’m coming is different,” she tells Billboard on a cool November afternoon. “I’m elevated. You’re definitely going to hear it as you get to every song, as every song pass, you’re going to see the elevation of DreamDoll.”
Chopping it up with Billboard, DreamDoll talks about her new deal with Warner Records, her as-yet-untitled upcoming project, “You Know My Body” and more. Check out the conversation below.
First off, congrats on your new deal. What made now the right time to sign with Warner Records?
I felt like me and my team, it was [only] so much we could do without a big backup behind us. As soon as I started working with [Warner], everything’s been great. Like they got me in a soundtrack for Netflix. They put me with other artists like CJ and Erica Banks were also signed to Warner. So, you know, everything that’s been coming from them been good.
So, “You Know My Body,” the first track you dropped with the label, is dope. It’s very nostalgic with the Fabolous sample. How did that one come together?
My producer and Capella was in the studio. We kept talking about doing a song together, but that day I didn’t make it to the studio, and Capella did the hook. Then, I wound up going and recording my verse, and I loved it. Then we met at the video shoot.
How did you connect with Capella?
We both from the Bronx, so once I found out about him, I followed him on Instagram — and we talked in DMs about working together, doing something fun for the city… I ain’t gon’ lie, it’s been getting a lot of great feedback. The video is inspired by the ’90s.
What’s your favorite part of the track?
My favorite part is my beginning of each verse, when I reference Fab. Fab did it, so I just wanted to keep the original vibe. Like, the way I come in, “If you heard what the F I did…” that’s how Fab came in [on Jimmy Cozier’s “She’s All I Got (Remix)”]. So I just wanted to make it like a female kind of vibe.
Before you released “You Know My Body” you dropped “Tryouts,” which is also dope.
Yes. “Tryouts” is one of my faves.
It’s a funny song, I definitely get Biggie/Nicki vibes from it. Did any of the women you mention on the track hit you up?
I’m not gon’ lie, I’m not gon’ say no names — but after I dropped that song, I was in the club, and it was one of the girls I mentioned there and she was on my back. [Laughs.] She said “Oh, you said you want to do that? Let’s go.”
[Laughs.] She was with it?
She was definitely with it. My game’s been lit since I dropped “Tryouts,” stop playing.
A little while back you jumped on Erica Banks’ “Toot That” with BeatKing.
That one thing about me. I’m going to walk on all my features, and I’m walking on all my freestyles. You know my body.
Is she going to be on your new project? Who are some features on your new project?
I definitely want do a song with Erica. Erica is super fire. Even my own records with females, I want to start doing [more]. I’ve been anxious for me to be heard. I wasn’t really focusing on features, I’ma be honest. I do have some, but I did them a little while ago. But I got Kash Doll on a record.
Dope. What’s the song with Kash Doll called?
“Fantasy.” It’s a Ludacris record.
Did you guys take Ludacris’ “What’s Ya Fantasy” sample and flip it?
Yup, you know me — I love my samples. We both are talking our sh-t. I’m on the hook, Kash walked on her verse.
So listening to your music over the years, you’ve definitely gotten better at rapping, and you’ve talked about how your delivery has improved. How would you say you’ve leveled up?
I feel like the main change was my voice. I had to understand, like you gotta have a rap voice and then a regular speaking voice. I had to find that within my own voice. But, I did it once, and everybody loved it. I just stuck beside it.
What can people expect from your new project?
It’s definitely a reinvented DreamDoll. I feel like people been just hearing freestyles and my verses on features. This is really about to change the conversations that people have about me.
How would you describe those conversations?
I feel like more people are paying attention to my music and my lyrics, and it’s just like, the big dogs is watching. My monthly streams on Spotify been going crazy. It’s been going up and up and up — even with features. Like, these people are checking for me, and I don’t even have the project out yet. So imagine when I have a project. It’s gonna be crazy.
You’ve come a long way since transitioning from Love & Hip Hop to being a full-fledged rapper. What are you most proud of in your career so far?
I’m most proud of every year being a better year and me, getting closer to my goals and my dreams, and every year just being better.
Well you know I’ve got to ask: What are some of those dreams?
I feel like when I talk about them out loud, it stops them sometimes. Like even when I even like things that I have done, I’ve learned my lesson with talking about it before it’s solidified. I don’t like talking about it before it happens — it jinxes it a little bit.
But definitely, this year, I got to perform on the Summer Jam stage. I’ve always dreamed about [that], especially being an artist from New York… that’s something that I’ve been going to from [age] 15 with my friends. So it means a lot to me. Performing at Rolling Loud, meeting Timbaland, meeting DJ Khaled, getting some beats from Timbaland. I just feel like this year has been amazing even signing my new deal. I didn’t know that I would be in a better situation this year.