When the internet first caught wind of the song that would become "Hotline Bling," it was widely referred to as a reworking of D.R.A.M.'s track "Cha Cha." But unlike the Drake version of Ramriddlz's "Sweeterman"—which just put new lyrics over the original beat—the links between "Cha Cha" and "Hotline Bling" were more tenuous, or more artfully concealed. There are similarities between the way both singers rise through their lines, and both songs interpolate Timmy Thomas’ "Why Can't We Live Together"—though "Hotline Bling" uses a Thomas sample directly, and D.R.A.M. recreated the Thomas instrumentation using a sample from Super Mario.
After D.R.A.M. performed in Toronto on Monday night, he discussed the connection between "Cha Cha" and "Hotline Bling" on Twitter, calling the show "bittersweet."
"Sweet cus I'm out here sharing my music, my sound with the people," he wrote. "Bitter though, cus after my performance all I'm seeing is Cha Cha/Hotline Bling comparisons on my timeline." "Yeah, I feel like I got jacked for my record," he continued. "But I'm GOOD. I'm happy that the VA sound that me & Gabe Niles are steady working on is growing."
In his FADER 100 cover story, Drake spoke about the way he interprets songs and makes them his own, likening his process to his mother's editing of his schoolwork as a kid. “Like, I’d bring home an essay that I did really well on, and my mom would read it through and give me notes back—on the essay that I just scored like 94 on!" he said. "So sometimes I just do that. I’ll hear people’s stuff and… I’ll just give my interpretation of how I would have done it.”
D.R.A.M. has high hopes for the future: "in 2016 we gon' own it, GAHDAMN!" Look for the singer/rapper's GAHDAMN! EP this Friday.