For his second NPR Tiny Desk concert, Shelley FKA D.R.A.M. debuted a new song, “Rich & Famous,” as well as running through three other R&B jams on Monday (April 26). The 32-year-old Virginia rapper who blew up in 2015 thanks to his hip-hop hit “Broccoli,” has been on a journey to focus on his singing for several years, and his four-song Tiny Desk set is proof he’s landed.
Backed by a full band featuring and a pair of backup singers and violin player, Shelley — rocking lime green silky pajamas — opened with the soothing R&B ballad “Exposure,” crooning, “Let me love you inside-out and outside-in/ Let me touch your soul just like I touch your skin.”
“Hello, my name is Shelley and this is the Shelley Show on NPR Tiny Desk,” said the singer born Shelley Marshaun Massenburg-Smith, calling his return engagement a “new beginning” that has brought him “full circle” from his 2017 Tiny Desk debut. The second selection, the seductive soul burner “The Lay Down,” was further proof that the bespectacled star is exactly where he wants to be.
By the time he unleashed the funky D’angelo-style falsetto flight “Cooking With Grease,” Shelley was firmly in the zone, pushing his mic stand to the side so he could wiggle his hips and reach up high to sing, “It’s got you dotting your I’s/ And crossing your T’s/ It’s got you cleaning your dirt/ Before it gets back to me.”
The 15-minute session ended with the premiere of the slinky “Rich & Famous,” a track from his upcoming self-titled album, Shelley FKA DRAM, which is due out on Friday (April 29). “Cars, clothes, jewels and fame/ It don’t matter/ Rich and famous, rich and famous,” he sang on the tune about realizing that all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold.
In addition to the Tiny Desk visit, Shelley has also released a new single this week, “All Pride Aside,” featuring Summer Walker. In an interview with Apple Music 1’s Zane Lowe, Shelley explained his re-branding and what inspired it.
“I think that the broccoli, the cash overpowered is something that I thought was going to lead you to the water. And it created a way because it’s its own thing or whatever,” he told Lowe. “So it’s just like full for a true core fan of myself. I feel like it’s just an elevation for what they knew was already there. For somebody that’s just catching on the fly, it’s just like I didn’t even know this guy was doing all of this … my approach, whenever I do it, I’m going to make it my own. So it’s just like, as long as I just stay true to that and just, show the growth rather than just stand somewhere. Because I’ve been away. You know what I mean? I feel like it’s a good representation in a good example of how certain things take time.”
Watch the Shelley Tiny Desk (Home) Concert below.