Dj Drama Biography
Last updated: 10/21/2011 12:00:00 PM
In this day and age, creativity and innovation are rare commodities, especially in pop culture. Yet that particular element is exactly what has made the Aphilliates’ own DJ Drama one of the nation’s premier DJs and what has led him to the type of success that has eluded many in his field. DJ Drama has not only made a name for himself as a mixtape and tour DJ, he has also changed the mixtape game in the South and Southeast, helping the region move in on a market once cornered by New York City. That may sound like a heavy burden to carry, but the 27-year-old, who began his career in his native Philadelphia in the early 90s, balances being an award-winning DJ, father, businessman and producer with ease.
It is no surprise that DJ Drama has come to gain the national recognition he now enjoys. After hosting and spinning at some of Atlanta’s biggest events for the likes of Diddy, Allen Iverson, Lil’ Jon and Jermaine Dupri, DJ Drama became well known amongst industry tastemakers as one who’s soulful, eclectic style and ear for new talent could provide entertainment outside of the mainstream. The reputation he gained from his accomplishments in the Atlanta markets ha led to a national and international fan base which allows him to travel and perform at venues, events and universities across the globe. And thanks to an almost non-stop schedule as a tour DJ for a wide cross-section of artists – from Bahamadia and Slum Village to BME recording artist Lil’ Scrappy, he has been able to continue to build on that fan base. DJ Drama currently serves as the official DJ for Grand Hustle/Atlantic recording artist T.I., which placed him on two of the most successful Hip-Hop tours of 2004/2005: the Jay-Z and Friends Tour and Nelly’s Sweat/Suit Tour.
But DJ Drama may be best known for his Gangsta Grillz mixtape series. With over twenty editions in the books, sixteen of which were released in 2005 alone, the series has become a coveted promotional opportunity for any artist seeking to strengthen their fan base in the streets and is recognized by the entertainment industry as one of the premier sources for the South’s best new talent. The series is responsible for Young Jeezy’s now legendary Trap or Die mixtape, along with three volumes hosted by T.I. & P$C – Gangsta Grillz Meets In The Streets – which redefined the concept of the Mixtape Album in the South; Gangsta Grillz: Down With The King, which introduced the group to new audiences, and Gangsta Grillz: The Indictment, which helped promote their Atlantic Records debut. Stat Quo, Rich Boy, Slick Pulla, Smitty, and Webbie also received the Gangsta Grillz seal of approval, allowing them to sustain a buzz while working on their major label debuts. But the series has also been co-signed by some of the biggest names in the game. DJ Drama has collaborated with such established figures as 8Ball & MJG, Bun B, Dame Dash, David Banner, Diddy, Lil’ Wayne, Paul Wall and Slim Thug. Gangsta Grillz is so well respected in the South that multi-platinum, Grammy award-winner Big Boi chose Gangsta Grillz X as his first mixtape hosting experience. Gangsta Grillz was named Vibe Magazine’s “Mixtape Series of the Year” in 2005; and Trap or Die has been recognized as XXL’s 2005 “Official Bootleg of the Year.” DJ Drama’s other mixtape series, Automatic Relaxtion, known for its creative blend of Neo-Soul and smooth Hip-Hop, has also been heralded by fans and critics alike.
The success of his mixtape series kicked DJ Drama’s entrepreneurial spirit into overdrive. In addition to being distributed in 31 markets nationally, in Germany, and through countless internet sites, Grangsta Grillz has now become a brand. DJ Drama is currently preparing for the release of the Gangsta Grillz DVD Documentary entitled Respect The Game, produced by Gorrilla Flix; and recently inked a deal with Atlantic Records to release Gangsta Grillz The Album. And each and every Saturday night, the Aphilliates take over Radio-One’s WHTA Hot 107.9 in Atlanta with Gangsta Grillz Radio, which takes a new approach to the traditional radio format. This is the Aphilliates second radio show, joining their Sirius Satellite Radio program, Streetz Iz Watchin’, which airs on Shade 45 on Friday nights.
With so many accomplishments, of course has come a bevy of media and industry accolades. DJ Drama was named “Best Mixtape DJ” by Hot 107.9; nominated for Justo’s Mixtape Awards’ “Best South DJ” in 2004 and 2005; and 2005’s “Mixtape DJ of the Year” at the MixShow Power Summit. In addition has been featured on BET’s 106 & Park and Rap City, MTV’s Spring Bling and Wildin’ Out, FOX’ The O.C. and MTV.com’s Mixtape Mondays. He has also graced the pages of Vibe, XXL. King, The Source, Rhime, Ozone, Spin, Urb, The Village Voice, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to name a few.
The Aphilliates consists of six Atlanta-based turntablists who have taken the industry by storm. Founded in April 2003 by DJs DJ Drama, Sense and Don Cannon this marketing savvy unit has rapidly become an alliance by which all similar associations should be measured.