D.R.A.M.’s “Cha Cha” Performance Will Be Trillectro 2015’s Apex
In an age where quality is often sacrificed for notoriety, festivals have become more about the experience than the music. The masses obsess over celebrity appearances and outfits at Coachella, and whoever captures a festival moment with viral potential earns bragging rights and a bump in their social media following.
Buried beneath this need to encapsulate and share is an understanding of magnitude, namely how certain moments define bigger ones. Jay Z giving an audience a preview of “Takeover” at Hot 97’s Summer Jam in 2001 ignited one of hip-hop’s biggest feuds,# and Nas’ planned (and vetoed) response a year later would’ve crashed Twitter if it took place in the social media era. As one generation ages out of festival life, another satisfies its appetite by finally indulging in what it’s waited years to be a part of. In the midst of this cycle, the experience and the music have become one.
So late Wednesday night, when the Trillectro Music Festival announced the lineup for its fourth installment, my initial analysis of the bill had me thinking one question: “What’s going to be Trillectro 2015’s shining moment?”
After noticing Virginia rapper and singer D.R.A.M.’s name amidst the lineup, I’m calling it now — his performance of “Cha Cha” will be it.
“Cha Cha” has scaled the “local favorite” fence, eventually sprinting to national popularity, but the potential was always there. It’s contagious, evoking simultaneous memories of post-body shot Spring Break dance-offs and the college graduation week parties that don’t end until 4 a.m. and/or someone calls the cops.
However, its admirable leap from DJs screaming over it at D.C. day parties to D.R.A.M. explaining its inspiration on Hot 97 can be credited to Beyoncé informing the largely uninformed about the song’s existence a few months back.
Support from Beyoncé and the BeyHive# was the primer for a major-stage performance that would place D.R.A.M. in respectable company.
The previous three Trillectros are all marked by a peak; an exceptional high. At the inaugural festival in 2012, the zenith came during ScHoolboy Q’s performance and had nothing to do with high energy. As a bout of rain broke, the L.A. rapper performed “Blessed,” which mixes reflections on his past hardships with gratitude for his current status. Upping the performance’s eerie serenity was the realization that, with Trillectro, something singular had been created in D.C. The height came during a moment of calm, a rarity considering that vigor is typically what creates memories in the festival atmosphere.
2013 saw Trillectro score its most notable viral moment thanks to A$AP Ferg. Just days before his debut album, Trap Lord, was released, Ferg (with the help of surprise guest A$AP Rocky and essentially everyone in attendance) performed his accidental hit, “Work.”
The exuberant clip of the performance made its way around the blogosphere, showing national outlets that Trillectro was more than some JV local festival. The added notoriety precipitated the necessary relocation to the Festival Grounds at RFK Stadium (and an even larger crowd) last year, which meant more people present for another pinnacle: Travi$ Scott’s impromptu set.
Absent from the official lineup, Scott arrived with nightfall to the audience’s surprise. Unchecked intensity has made him one of hip-hop’s elite# live performers, and after releasing his Days Before Rodeo project earlier that week, he was quite eager to share the new material with the audience.
From the irrepressible chaos of “Quintana” and “Upper Echelon” to the demonic opening of “Don’t Play,” Scott pushed a crowd on the brink over the edge. He was able to extract (or, better yet, demand) a reciprocation of zeal, and the audience gladly obliged. His performance of the latter was also a perfect hand-off to Big Sean, 2014’s most recognizable name.
D.R.A.M. is in the position to have a similar impact, only his performance will carry more weight.
Each artist who has earned the figurative crown engraved with “Trillectro’s Apex” is from elsewhere. Wale made a “special guest appearance” in 2013, but it was outshined by Ferg’s spectacle. Having the 8,000-plus people likely to attend Trillectro this year scream the chorus to “Cha Cha” in unison while doing assorted (horrendous) interpretations of the dance will place that crown atop an area artist’s head for the first time. Aside from being hyper-urban and recognizing hip-hop and EDM’s intersection, Trillectro’s purpose is to show the world what D.C. and its surrounding localities have to offer in terms of talent, and D.R.A.M. owning the day will represent a fulfillment of this aim, further selling the barrage of media types present on his ability. This is one of his career’s biggest moments, one everyone will be watching in anticipation like it’s the NFL Combine.
I’m making this prediction fully-cognizant that I could be dead wrong.# There’s the possibility that Wale saunters onto the Merriweather Post Pavilion stage during Chance the Rapper’s set to perform “Friendship Heights,” and everyone should spend the next month-and-a-half preparing to lose their shit when Dom Kennedy drops “1997.” However, D.R.A.M. has the opportunity — and, more importantly, the momentum — to join a special class of performances that will be lionized for years once someone inevitably documents The Oral History of Trillectro.
And even if I’m off-target and he doesn’t, at least he got to touch to Beyoncé.#
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