A Night with D.R.A.M. at the El Rey Theatre

By Dylan Tom
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River Tiber, Nebu Kiniza, Ari Lennox, and D.R.A.M. heat up the El Rey Theatre for a jammed packed night of music and fun.


Pulling up to the El Rey Theatre you never know what to expect. Well, you know who’s going to be there because you bought the ticket – but you get the point.

Tonight’s banner reads, “Golden Voice presents D.R.A.M.,” but even with that knowledge you never know what type of show to anticipate.

Will the artists live up to the hype? Will they perform your favorite?How will the audience react? These questions can only be answered in the moment, thus the appeal of live shows.

I arrived at 7 p.m.. an hour before showtime; as I waited the crowd slowly trickled in. It’s a mixed crowd, young and old all who seemed to be buzzing with anticipation. As the room began to fill the lights began to dim and the curtains opened.

The 24-year-old Toronto native, River Tiber, kicked off the night with a medley of tunes that clearly resonated with the crowd. But It wasn’t until midway through the set that something piqued my ear. River’s hit song No Talk that was sampled on Drake’s track No Tellin erupted through the speakers, putting the audience in a trance where nobody could help but sing along. The lasting instrumentals of his band seemed to linger in the air even after his set was finished and the audience was left waiting for the next act.

The curtains open again, revealing the stage had been reconstructed from a live band set up to a DJ stand. The hype-man for the next act began playing hip-hop hits and crowd favorites like Migos’ Bad and Boujee and OT Genesis Cut It. Could this next artist live up to the hype?

Nebu Kiniza, a 22-year-old, Queens born (Atlanta adopted) rapper burst from behind-the-scenes, gassing up the crowd as the beat drops on his track. The crowd’s energy level increases with each song transition until the track switches and Nebu Kiniza says, “Gassed up shawty, said I need bout 40, pull up to the party” and the crowd explodes “Yeah Yeah Yeah!” From that point on the crowd sung along to every word of the song.

Up until now I had been pleasantly surprised by the performances of artists that I had not known much about. However, the excitement and anticipation begins to rise as Ari Lennox prepares to take the stage. The 25-year-old D.C. songstress – who caught the eye of Rap Icon J. Cole, who then signed her to his label Dreamville – has been an artist on the rise for some time now. The crowd erupts as she walks on stage, greeting us by asking if we’re ready.

As Lennox gets into her set the crowd’s mood changes, as everyone seems to sway from left to right almost in unison, transfixed by Lennox’s melodic vocals. She feeds off the energy of the crowd, often singing face-to-face with certain audience members.

“Can I ask y’all a real political question?” she asks, breaking the trance..

With political tension high many assumed the recent election would be the topic – they were right.

“And fuck Trumps carrot head by the way,” she exclaims, as the audience bursts into laughter She quickly transitions.“But let me ask y’all this real political question. Have y’all ever been fucked in the back seat?”

The beat drops and the crowd roars with laughter and applause and Lennox breaks into her most notable hit, Backseat. The audience sings along as Lennox works thecrowd, finally ending her set by thanking LA and leaving the audience to wait for the main attraction – D.R.A.M.Does Real Ass Music – D.R.A.M. – has seemingly exploded onto the scene with major hits like Cha Cha and Broccoli, even getting recognition by industry titans like Beyoncé and Drake.

He walks on stage and the crowd bursts into applause. He gets right into his performance with high energy, and sounds just like his records, which is not common for many rappers who also sing. The crowd sings along, song after song until D.R.A.M. stops. He pauses then begins to tell the crowd how thankful he is of them for being here, and that he can remember one of his first times performing in LA the room was half full and now it is sold out and he’s nominated for a Grammy.

He is fully engaged with the crowd, dancing and interacting with the audience throughout the performance. Then, the signature Mario Kart beat blasts from the speakers and he breaks into his breakout hit Cha Cha. Just as the set seems finished he climbs into the crowd – to his bodyguards disbelief. He makes his way through the crowd, singing before re emerging on stage, greeted by members of his team holding a plaque. It reads “Broccoli 4x Platinum.”

The crowd cheers as a label executive congratulates D.R.A.M. on his success. D.R.A.M. thanks his label executive and the crowd and proceeds to leave to everyone’s confusion. But there’s no way he would leave without performing his 4x platinum hit Broccoli right?

Just then D.R.A.M. runs back on stage, singing Broccoli  acapella, holding his dog, Idnit, in hand. When it’s finished. D.R.A.M. walks off stage, leaving behind a performance that lived up to his name.

All in all it was another a good night at the El Rey Theatre, but what else would you expect.

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