Pop newcomer drumaq lends his voice to the protagonist in all of us with his intimate debut mixtape, Vitamin D.
There is an unfounded notion that musicians hailing from the social influencer circle are not to be taken seriously as true artists. For some reason, connecting with fans on a familiar level through viral video content is supposed to be mutually exclusive with using one’s voice in a musical aspect to find that same common thread. Pop newcomer drumaq is proof that role models can have multiple platforms on which to start meaningful conversations.
With the release of his 8-track mixtape, Vitamin D (distributed via Level), he becomes an accessible figure with a voice that amplifies the queer community from the perspective of a man in his early 20s. Concerted efforts to use male pronouns when singing about his love interest are present in a way that is provocative, yet also still so universal. The way in which he writes feels like a form of therapy for someone who feels the weight of the world around him.
Listen: Vitamin D – drumaq
The mixtape opens with a 1:19 woeful cry of emotional exhaustion. “Good Time” introduces the body of work with immediate introspection and raw pop sensibility. Setting the tone for the rest of the mixtape with the repeated “I don’t know why I can’t have a good time,” he finds his methods of coping to be futile. Relief is found as the track closes, when the comedic and uplifting words of encouragement from friend Tyrell Hampton come in, as he bangs on the door and tells him to wake up and to move on.
“Take Out” comes next, a guitar-driven tune that feels all too familiar. Falling into the same mistakes of a failed relationship, he rationalizes, “Maybe I’m just lonely. Maybe I’m just trippin’, it’s the dick. Maybe it’s the drugs kickin’ in.” Sometimes repeated mistakes with the “right” person feel like they are worth the pain, and drumaq reiterates, “When it comes to you, I’ll take what I can get.”
Watch: “Take Out” – drumaq
The next track, “Innit” is the standout. Co-written by Mary Weitz and Spencer Stewart, the song is ironic ignorance with a funky flavor. As someone who claims to be “asking for the world” from someone who his friends know is clearly bad for him, he finds bliss in what they don’t see behind closed doors.
Up to this point in the mixtape, there’s an underlying sense of compromise in the realization of drumaq’s self-worth, as he convinces himself to settle for someone who treats him less than he deserves to be treated. “Girl Power” is cameo number two from Tyrell Hampton, and serves as a turning point in self-esteem. This short monologue from the NYC-based photographer — known for his beautifully evocative human portraits — is set to a melancholic guitar, as he gives a shout out to “trash boys” for their sole purpose in this world being “good d*ck.” A moment of esteem follows with “Translucent,” which is, lyrically, a masterpiece.
The song is a reassured victory in the battle between idealization of a fantasy partner and self-realization in how much that he has to offer.
I see right through you.
You ain’t so pretty on the inside.
“Granola” continues the conversation of constant comparison and furthers the newfound self-love from the previous track. The feel-good melody in the chorus plays well with the biting lyrics and feels like a song that will soon be a fan-favorite.
A moment of somberness ensues, as the Sza-esque melodies and transposed guitar riff of “Supermodel” take form in drumaq’s debut single, “Insecurities.” Thoughts of, “if things had been different / if I had been different” echo through the verses. An overarching sense of maturity rings in the chorus as he realizes the senselessness in thinking this way instead of just letting go. The official music video includes scenic shots of St. John’s, Newfoundland interspersed with solo performance shots and moments with his family. In the video description, drumaq dedicates the video his mom, whose passing brought a new layer of depth and meaning to the song. He writes, “it breaks my heart that whoever i fall in love with will never get the chance to meet her, but at the same time, in a weird way i’m kinda glad my ex didn’t because he didn’t deserve to…and he definitely didn’t deserve me either.”
Watch: “Insecurities” – drumaq
“Insecurities” feels like the conclusion to the mixtape. And the final track, a demo titled “WYA” serves as an afterthought. He sings, “When you gon’ call me, awake from your sleep / Cryin’ ’bout a boy who did what you did to me / But where will you be for me?” Despite all of the overcome heartbreak and the navigation through mental health to find moments of self-love, there still remains a feeling of weakness rooted in selflessness. But it’s this feeling of relinquishment in pride that keeps us all excited for what’s next.
The humanity that is so clearly present in Vitamin D overshadows any social preconceptions one could have about drumaq, as it is first and foremost, a testament to his undeniable talent.
📸 © drumaq 2019