Chicago’s Young DRA showcases new sound on ‘Passengers’Hip hop artist Young DRA was raised on the grounds of what was once the infamous Cabrini-Green Homes in Chicago, and he grew up understanding why some of his male peers felt the need to carry a gun, and why some women used their sexuality to gain exposure. But DRA wanted to offer an alternative to those lifestyles, with his achievements in music serving as an example. And he appears to be on the right track – the music video for his latest single “Passengers” has already been viewed more than 400,000 times on YouTube. “That tells me we’re on track,” he says. “My music is from experiences. It’s genuine. A lot of people, what they’re saying in their music is from a different perspective than their own. My music is me. Whatever you hear I’ve gone through. It’s authentic.”
While in college at the University of Tampa and then Loyola University, DRA became aware of a generational change in hip hop music and he’s developed a unique style that’s a fusion between 90’s rap and the fresher sound of contemporary music. Partly inspired by The Notorious B.I.G. – DRA had his greatest hits album on repeat when he was a kid – and also newer artists like J. Cole. “I would go to sleep to that Biggie album and wake up to it just to memorize it,” he says. “I loved that album so much. Since then my favorite artist is J. Cole and he’s obviously more of a new sounding kind of hip hop. I’m 24 and I’m influenced by a lot of the new rap and instrumentations that people are doing. My sound is a blend of all of it.”“Passengers” is a classic hip hop track and a club vibe mixed into one song. “Super boppy, catchy, captivating,” DRA says. It’s a study on pitch, and finding the right balance between high, low and medium pitch. “I’m using my voice as an instrument and finding a range,” DRA says. “When people hear the high voice it captures them quick, especially coming from somebody whose voice is already low so they’re not expecting that up front. You’ve got to be way more versatile in this game. Longevity equals versatility.”
A decade-long partnership with Grammy-winning producer XL has also helped shape DRA’s sound. “He doesn’t stick to one sound or one method of making beats,” he says. “He’ll give you a hip hop beat, he might give you a trap beat, a pop beat, an island vibe. The fact he can be so versatile influences my music. He’s got to take credit for a lot of the progression.
”The two will release a project in September called The Muscle that DRA describes as a conglomerate of different sounds they have created. “I really think this project is going to be the one to put me on the map,” he says.
Follow DRA on Instagram and Facebook (draofficialmusic), on Twitter (draofficial) and via his YouTube channel.