DJ Drama Biography
For this, he has had the doors of his offices kicked in by the boys in blue, was hauled off to jail with fellow record spinner DJ Don Cannon and federally charged like he was a disciple of Freeway Ricky Ross. Refusing to go down without a fight, the Atlanta-based mix tape messiah brings his street music and struggles with the law to the mainstream with the release of his Grand Hustle/ Atlantic full length album Gangsta Grillz: The Album.
“You roll down your window in any hood and you’ll hear a Gangsta Grillz drop,” says Dram. “You can go to any hood in any city and ask somebody if they got a Gangsta Grillz mixtape. They gone tell you yes. If you don’t know who Drama is, you don’t know nothing about hip hop right now.”
Born and raised between West Philadelphia and the city’s Germantown sections, Drama moved to Atlanta to attend Clark Atlanta University. A fan of DJ culture since seeing Omar Epps’ character DJ Gee Q on the big screen in classic hip hop film Juice, Drama first stepped behind the ones and twos after copping his very first mix tape- DJ S&S’s Old School Part 2 during a trip to New York City with his older sister as a kid. He found his calling and knew it.
Early on, Drama created a local buzz selling tapes in his high school and naturally brought his hustle with him when he relocated to Atlanta and began peddling mix tapes on campus. Offering a catalog that included reggae, instrumental and neo-soul mixes, his bread and butter came when he dropped his first southern-based tape Jim Crow Laws- his fastest-selling tape at the time.
He renamed the series to Gangsta Grillz and asked then-upcoming crunk king Lil Jon to host. He used that drop as roll call for every following edition. Before long, Drama got a call from Grand Hustle co-CEO Jason Geter, 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. Like a domino effect, 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 T.I.’s career. It’s helped the streets,” Drama insists.
Following the same formula that branded his trademark, Gangsta Grillz flows with blended, mix tape transitions between songs and features many of the hottest names in rap music.
On the stinging, Cannon-produced “The Art of Storytelling Part 4,” Andre 3000 and Big Boi take us back to the days of Aquemini as they spit abstract rhyme patterns over futuristic instrumentation and jazz horns sprinkled with a hook from Marsha Ambrosius, the stunning vocalist from Floetry.
“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.”
Already ghetto gold from mix tape downloads, bootlegs and iPods, Gangsta Grillz is packed with more hits than your favorite rapper’s Myspace page and certified platinum before it even hits the stands.