To say D.R.A.M. deserves this just doesn't say it. Drake’s camp may have denied that he ‘took inspiration’ (stole) from the bubbling Virginia rapper's single ‘Cha Cha’ for his smash hit ‘Hotline Bling’, but nevertheless it meant that D.R.A.M. had become yet another local artist absorbed into the world's biggest rapper's machine. But he also became the first to provide a genuine hit solely for the Canadian mega-star. While usually an association with Aubrey Graham is mainly for the profit of the man himself, the lesser-known artist still massively benefits from the exposure.

However, in D.R.A.M.'s case, once ‘Hotline Bling’ ballooned, his 'contribution' was completely ignored and uncredited, effectively leaving him out in the cold. While this would be enough for most any rapper to respond with fury, our man simply responded with, essentially, an “oh well.” (Although he does briefly reference it on this album with, “N**gas tried to appropriate me, I could not go for it.”) In an industry clogged with ego and grandstanding, D.R.A.M. has immediately served as a breath of fresh air, goofily charming, completely disarming, and so down to earth he seems like the kind of stranger you'd buy a beer on sight. The type of MC unafraid to paste his broad grinning, puppy brandishing face on his debut album. Certainly an odd mold for a rap star, but one which has only made him all the more appealing.

Big Baby D.R.A.M. reads as a mission statement: more purposeful than the man has ever been, controlled where it could be sporadic, a clear response to detractors who considered him a lightweight talent. Unlike countless hip hop albums that feel slapped together to fit in the artist's favorites alongside the label's, flow unconsidered, each moment of Big Baby feels earned.

Whatever your position on the controversial 'mumble rap' (I see it as more hesitant) movement of the likes of Lil Yachty (who tellingly appears here on single ‘Broccoli’) and fading forefather ILOVEMAKKONEN, D.R.A.M. proves to be a surprisingly versatile acolyte. Unlike his compatriots he flows seamlessly from singing to sing-rapping to straight rapping, all in a breath, even emulating the likes of Lord Infamous for a moment on ‘In a Minute/In House’. When things slow down for modern love ballad ‘WiFi’ - boasting a smooth Erykah Badu feature – things rapidly dash into the album's exuberant peak with a highlight in the 'we made it!' glee of ‘Cash Machine’. It also displays the full force of the artist's charisma, even shouting “You done got left behind if you don't got my new #,” D.R.A.M. still sounds like your best friend.

Next up are both of the album's charting singles. It’s a clear statement: sandwiching them smack in the middle of the whole affair, he shows a real confidence that what preceded and what follows will equally entertain, a real investment in delivering a full experience, especially important for an artist once unfairly viewed as a singles man. To the contrary, the album plays as a narrative between two sides of its performer: on the one side the excitement at his newfound wealth, at times leading to scorn for his past; all the while at battle with the other, inexorable nostalgia and compassion for those who were there before it all. It makes for a charming and endlessly relatable tale. As things near a close, he hits with the one, two punch of ‘Change My #’, a threat to leave a lover behind, and ‘Password’ giving in to his elation at love earned. It all feels heartfelt, never giving in to an easy out.

At no point is there an easy ‘Cha Cha’ re-do as a cash-in or guaranteed hit. Instead, we find our charismatic guide avoiding any opportunity to do the obvious answer, but all the while still providing the level of fun he’s known for. That, in itself, is a far more impressive accomplishment than he is likely to be acknowledged for. If there is any justice, this will lead to only greater things to come. Pay homage.