This rising Bronx emcee may have launched her career on reality TV, but it doesn’t define her future. DreamDoll talks to us about receiving advice from Rap vets, wanting to lock in a music video with Teyana Taylor, and revealing her sexuality through her music.
There are several “Doll” rappers looking to stake their claim in the Rap world, but DreamDoll is a voice that has been commanding attention for some time. The New York artist has been penning rhymes since she was in college, but her initial taste of fame came courtesy of the small screen. Those Bad Girls Club and Love & Hip Hop days helped expand DreamDoll’s notoriety, but now, the 29-year-old rapper is out to prove that she is more than what is portrayed in reality TV reruns.
Prior to her stints on television, the Bronx native had already amassed a significant following on social media. While DreamDoll, born Tabitha Robinson, had been quietly working on her music career, or at least as she describes it, rapping for fun with her friends, she worked as a bartender at Starlets, a popular strip club in Queens. It was there that her career would shift after meeting Power 105.1’s popular personality, DJ Self. The radio host-entrepreneur saw the spark in DreamDoll and her dedication to her pen and performing, so he signed her to his label, Gwinin Entertainment.
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It is true that much of Dream’s origin story is easily accessible due to her social media visibility, but there is still a significant portion of Hip Hop fans who aren’t familiar with the inner workings of her come up. In 2017 and 2018 Dream gave us Life in Plastic and Life in Plastic 2, respectively, and now she told us in a virtual interview that she’s closing out 2021 with a brand new project. As an artist who has left her past behind her and is forging ahead into a future that she hopes will spell increasing success, DreamDoll is proving to be more than just a pretty face.
We’ve heard her beast through Hitmaka’s “Thot Box” with Latto, Chinese Kitty, Young M.A., and Dreezy; she dominated alongside Fivio Foreign on her single “Ah Ah Ah”; and she cleverly spun a Fabolous classic when she chopped and screwed “Can’t Let You Go” on her recent release, “You Know My Body” featuring Capella Grey. Her throaty vocals and spitfire delivery are reminiscent of other New York icons including Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Nicki Minaj, and Remy Ma— but don’t be mistaken. DreamDoll isn’t looking to mimic or mirror anyone, however, she is ready to soak up all the knowledge that veterans have graciously bestowed during her rise.
We spoke with DreamDoll about the early days in her career, her plans for her next album, the wisdom she received from icons like Timbaland and Diddy, and her dream of one day having Teyana Taylor, also known as “Spike Tee,” direct one of her music videos.
Read about all of that and more with DreamDoll below.
WATCH: DreamDoll’s “On the Come Up” episode
HNHH: Tell us about the transition from reality TV to taking music seriously.
DreamDoll: I started off on reality TV, but I was rapping prior to reality TV— which was in college, but it was more for fun. It wasn’t making me any money, it was just something that I was doing for fun with the guys at college. Then, I actually met up with DJ Self. I met him while I was bartending at Starlets. I told him I used to do music, and that’s when he was looking for female artists for his label. He said, “Come back with a song for me,” and I came back with “Talk To Me Nice,” which was one of my first records I ever did actually in a studio, not in a closet.
That was my first song, and that was the first time I ever heard my sound in an actual club. Before, I would just hear it on an MP3, my phone, stuff like that, but that was the first time I ever had it played in a club. I was like, “Oh, this is me coming on the speakers,” and that’s been my passion since then.
At what stage did you look at yourself like, “Oh, this is for real!” At what point did you see that you were gaining respect as a rapper and not simply an “aspiring artist”?
When I had to sacrifice working, and when I say working I mean any type of clubs, or any type of work that would be a distraction. I was working in nightlife, and I record at night, so it was like, “Okay. Am I going to the studio some days and the club some days?” I had to give it up. Strip clubs in New York, we make a lot of money, so I had to sacrifice and give it up and put my music first. I feel like that was a changing point for me ‘cause it was like, “What if it don’t work? What if nothing changes?” I took a chance, and thank god that it’s been great.
Talk about what you have going on and what you’ve been working on currently. Give us a rundown.
Currently, I have a song out right now. It just dropped. It’s called “You Know My Body”, featuring Capella Grey. This is my first single that I dropped signed to Warner Records, which is gonna lead into my project that’s dropping next month—so y’all, stay tuned. Y’all gonna get a nice chunk of nightmare flow through Dream. That’s basically what we have going on as far as music goes. I have a lot of things that’s coming up, but I can’t speak about it yet because we don’t have dates. Usually, when you talk about something, they be like, “Oh, when’s this happening?” but we’ll be back to talk about that.
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What can we expect from your album?
You can expect to know more about my past through my music. I talk about what I went through growing and things that happened— especially my intro. My intro is the most powerful part of my project… It’s something I’ve been working on for two years. It’s not something I’ve made in one month. I been working on this album—it’s like an album/EP, it’s a reintroduction because I didn’t want to put the pressure as far as “album” goes—but this is the first collection of the new music I have, with a new and improved flow and vibes.
Can you give us any hints as to what features you may have on the project?
Yes. Even though I wanted to try to not have a lot of features, because I feel like I really owe the culture a nice chunk of work, there are features on the project. There’s a big female artist and I’m waiting for her vocals back. That’s what’s been pushing back my dates, but whatever. I need to wait. Stay tuned when I drop the tracklist.
“There’s a big female artist and I’m waiting for her vocals back. That’s what’s been pushing back my dates, but whatever. I need to wait. Stay tuned when I drop the tracklist.”
Speaking of female artists, I covered an interview where you talked about how women in Rap need to have tough skin because they encounter a lot of issues that their male peers don’t. Can you speak about that?
Every day’s an obstacle for me, especially coming from where I came from. Everybody’s different. A lot of female artists, they just come out as female artists— me, I have Bad Girls Club in front of me, I have Love & Hip-Hop in front of me, so my first impression wasn’t like other females. If I would’ve came out how a lot of females came out, which is boom, she’s a female rapper and that’s it, conversations would be very different when it comes to me— but it’s no shame in my game. That’s a part of me. That’s a part of my past. You like it or you don’t.
Yes, I go through stuff in the music industry— even when it comes to doing records with females. But there’s no hard feelings. Sometimes the time is just not right. That’s okay. Even with people that want me to work with them and I feel like they’re not taking me serious or I feel like the time is not right with them, or friends that I have in the industry— I want to make sure that you’re taking me serious, not just [to say], “Oh, I have a track with Dream.” A lot of people want to do this ‘cause this is what’s in, and this is my passion. This is a part of me. My music and my project, you’re gonna hear a lot of things that I went through that people would just think, “Oh, she’s a pretty face with a nice body,” like no, I actually go through sh*t. I’m human. This hurts me, that hurts me.
“Me, I have Bad Girls Club in front of me, I have Love & Hip-Hop in front of me, so my first impression wasn’t like other females. If I would’ve came out how a lot of females came out, which is boom, she’s a female rapper and that’s it, conversations would be very different when it comes to me— but it’s no shame in my game. That’s a part of me. That’s a part of my past. You like it or you don’t.”
You’ve spoken about women empowerment and bringing women in the culture. Who are some artists that you would want to collaborate with— not just in the studio, but anybody, even directors?
I really want Teyana Taylor to do one of my videos so bad. [Laughs] I love Teyana. We follow each other on Instagram. I just love her thoughts, her brain, her creativity. I feel like she is a super dope person, and that’s one of my faves. I just want to link with her and put together a treatment—not some written treatment. I want to talk about it and make it come to life. That’s one of my goals.
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With where you are right now and all the wisdom that you’ve gained, having your first Billboard placement— congrats on that! What is something you would tell old you, or Dream at the very beginning of taking this industry seriously?
I would tell my beginner self not to take every opportunity. It’s okay to say no. Other things will come. Don’t take every opportunity that gets presented to you, ‘cause that’s how I used to be. I just wish that I would’ve taken less things, took my time, and I wish that I would’ve had the team I have now, not trying to be so independent like I want to do it, I want to do it, I want to get credit for doing it. I’m still independent but [I would tell myself to] not be so independent and have more of a team. I’m here today, so it don’t really matter. I got this.
Speaking of words of wisdom, is there anything that anybody—a veteran in the industry—has told you that has helped you along the way, or an experience that has stuck with you?
I feel like I have a lot of relationships with vets and OGs. I’m like a sponge. When I went and met with Khaled, he talked to me, and I absorbed everything. When I met with Puffy, I absorbed everything… when I met Timbaland. These people, they don’t have to f*cking sit with me! They good. They don’t have to sit here and tell me this or tell me that. When people actually don’t need anything from me and are talking to me, telling me they’re watching me, watching my growth, and giving me advice, I take it in and I appreciate it.
It’s more of a shock to me, like, “Why the hell are they interested in me?” [Laughs] When I sat in the studio with Timbaland, and he’s over here making beats, him just giving me little hints and things. At that time, I made him a song and he was telling me what he was seeing visually with the video. I’m like, he didn’t have to f*cking do that. He was like, “Don’t do too much, do this, do that,” and I love that sh*t, because they don’t have anything to gain from me, but I have a lot to gain from [being] with them. I love it.
You’re performing at Rolling Loud New York, right?
Yes, it’s my first Rolling Loud. I’m performing this year, so I’m excited.
For anyone who’s seeing DreamDoll on stage, what is it they can expect from you?
First, you can expect to see me in person. [Laughs] No, I’m joking. I haven’t performed at a show since Summer Jam, but I never did a Rolling Loud before, so this is a big thing for me. You can definitely expect to see my energy feeding into the crowd, and before I go onstage, I actually activate. The crowd gives me fuel. Even the other day when I was hosting in Queens, I jumped in the crowd, and I didn’t know I was going to do that. I didn’t expect to do that. There was people hands all up in my booty, and all types of crazy things happening. But you definitely get to see me perform and see my energy, dancing, super vibes, give out some merch. I’m probably going to perform with a couple of artists I’ve done songs with during their sets, so you’re gonna see me a couple of times on the stage.
For Pride Month you announced that you are bisexual. What made you decide to officially make a statement about it?
I came out in my other song, but they didn’t hear it. I feel like with people, they always get it late. In “Ah Ah Ah”, which has been out since last year, in my second verse I spoke about knowing my sexuality, but nobody noticed it. But when I actually made the announcement, they noticed it more. I had to bring it to their attention. But I’ve always spoke about it.
“I came out in my other song, but they didn’t hear it. I feel like with people, they always get it late. In “Ah Ah Ah”, which has been out since last year, in my second verse I spoke about knowing my sexuality, but nobody noticed it.”
Do you think people didn’t take it seriously because it was in music?
Well, it’s no cap in my raps. People have short attention spans. They don’t really pay attention. But I been talking about it. And even if you watch me on Instagram, you know how I be with my friends.
What is something about you as a human being, as a person, stripped of the celebrity, that you wish people could see about you? Fans might see you as DreamDoll the rapper, the reality star, but what is it about you that people don’t always get to see beyond popularity?
I feel like people forget that we are human, that I am you. There’s no difference. When I get a cut, it bleeds, it hurts. When I wear makeup, my face breaks out. I have acne. We go through the same sh*t. We both get periods every month. I feel like people feel like they could say whatever they want to say sometimes, and there will just be no repercussions behind it, but when I want to say something sometimes, I need to watch what I say. I want people to know that I’m just like them. I’m relatable, I go through the same sh*t everybody else go through. It’s no different. It’s just I got more eyes on me. I’m under a lil’ microscope.