Ask any southern rap fan to name the most prominent DJ in his region right now, and the words DJ Drama are sure to spew out of his mouth. Introducing the rap world to platinum-selling Def Jam artist Young Jeezy and ATL sensation Young Dro as well as keeping fans satisfied with exclusive pre-albums from Lil Wayne, Young Buck, Bun-B of UGK, Eightball & MJG and Project Pat with his Gangsta Grillz mix tape series, Drama has supplied stirring street soundtracks to every block, back alley and trap house like a pirate radio station on disc.
For his next move, the Atlanta-based mix tape messiah brings this street music to the mainstream with the February release of his Grand Hustle/ Atlantic mix tape album Gangsta Grillz. Following the same formula that branded his trademark, the album flows with blended, mix tape transitions between songs and features many of the hottest names in rap music.
"This won't be the first time that street music came to the table, but I'm going to show them what I got. I introduced a lot to the world, and now I'm gonna introduce it on a bigger plain," Drama explains. "This album is going to bring the movement of southern rap culture, the mix tape game, quality hip hop to the masses where they no longer have to go to a street corner or a bodega or the Internet to know about Gangsta Grillz."
Born and raised between West Philadelphia and the city's Germantown sections, Drama became a fan of DJ culture since copping his very first mix tape- DJ S&S's Old School Part 2- after a trip to New York City with his older sister. But it wasn't until being captivated by Omar Epps' character DJ Gee Q in classic hip hop film Juice would he step behind the ones and twos himself.
Early on, Drama created a local buzz selling mix tapes in his high school and deejaying at house parties. After graduation, he moved down south to attend college at Clark Atlanta University and brought his hustle game along with him. He began peddling mix tapes on campus with a catalog that included a reggae series, instrumental series and neo-soul series. But his bread and butter came when he dropped his first southern-based tape Jim Crow Laws, his fastest-selling tape to date.
Quickly recognizing the demand for southern mixes, he renamed the series to Gangsta Grillz and asked then-upcoming crunk king Lil Jon to host. It was an instant hit. Before long, Drama got a call from Grand Hustle co-CEO Jason Jeter, who wanted Drama to do something that had never been done before- compile an album-like mix tape with only artists from the label's group Pimp $quad Click. And classic mix tapes from many of the rap game's top players came back to back.
"The brand has been the success of many careers- myself included. It's helped Young Jeezy's career; it's helped DJ Don Cannon's career. It's helped the Aphiliates' career; it's helped T.I.'s career. It's helped the streets," Drama insists.
And the Cannon-produced lead single "Cannon (remix)," featuring Lil Wayne, T.I.