DJ Drama

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DJ Drama
DJ Drama (28545551382).jpg
Simmons performing in 2016
Background information
Birth nameTyree Simmons
Born (1978-04-22) April 22, 1978 (age 41)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
GenresHip hop
Occupation(s)
  • Disc jockey
  • record executive
  • music promoter
  • A&R representative
  • songwriter
  • Clown
Years active2003–present
Labels
Associated acts
Websitewww.dramalikethedj.com

Tyree Cinque Simmons (born April 22, 1978),[1][2] professionally known as DJ Drama, is an American DJ, record executive and music promoter originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the co-founder (with Don Cannon) of Generation Now, an Atlantic Records imprint with artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Skeme, and Jack Harlow on the roster. He initially gained recognition as the official DJ for Atlanta rapper T.I. and as a prominent mixtape DJ with his series, Gangsta Grillz. Numerous artists have appeared on DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz tapes, including Lil Wayne, Fabolous, Ludacris, Jeezy, Gucci Mane, and many others. He was a co-founder of the Atlanta-based DJ and artist collective known as the Aphilliates. Drama has also released 5 studio albums, including, most recently, Quality Street Music 2 in 2016.

Early life and education[edit]

Tyree Simmons was born and raised largely in the Germantown area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At age 13, his sister took him to New York City where he purchased his first mixtape. He began making his own tapes soon after, including one titled Illadelph which featured artists like Black Thought, Dice Raw, Malik B., and others. He also started experimenting with turntables. Simmons attended Central High School in Philadelphia and graduated in 1996.[3][4]

After high school, he moved to Atlanta to attend Clark Atlanta University (CAU) where he studied mass communication.[3][5] While there, he met two other Philadelphia-raised DJs: DJ Sense and Don Cannon. The three would eventually form the Aphilliates DJ and artist collective. During his studies, Simmons began making and releasing mixtapes under the moniker, DJ Drama.[3] One of his first series (called Electric Relaxation) included a variety of R&B tracks.[4] In 1998, he released his first mixtape (Jim Crow Laws) composed exclusively of Southern hip hop acts like Outkast, Three 6 Mafia, and Mystikal. The success of that tape led DJ Drama to start the mixtape series, Gangsta Grillz.[3][5] He would go on to graduate from CAU in 2000.[6]

Career[edit]

2003–2010: Career beginnings and Gangsta Grillz: The Album series[edit]

Simmons in 2008

DJ Drama, alongside Don Cannon and DJ Sense, officially founded the Aphilliates Music Group (AMG) in 2003.[5][7] The group distributed DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz mixtape series, which saw early successes with T.I.'s Down With the King (2004) and Jeezy's Trap or Die (2005).[4] By 2005, Drama and his AMG cohorts were hosting radio shows on Atlanta's Hot 107.9 and on Eminem's Shade 45 channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.[3][5] In late 2005, Drama produced and hosted Lil Wayne's The Dedication mixtape, which would spawn a long series of Dedication tapes. Dedication 2, released in May 2006, appeared on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and was labeled by The New York Times as "one of the 10 best recordings of 2006."[5][8]

AMG signed a joint venture deal with Asylum Records in September 2006. The first artist signed was American rapper Willie the Kid.[5][7] In January 2007, AMG's Atlanta studios were raided by Fulton County police officers, who seized over 80,000 mixtapes, 4 vehicles, and some recording equipment. Both DJ Drama and Don Cannon were taken into custody on RICO charges.[5][9][10] Hard drives containing tracks from Drama's first "official" album, Gangsta Grillz: The Album, were also seized despite the fact that the album was due to be released "above-board" by Grand Hustle Records via Atlantic Records. No further legal action was ever taken against Drama or Cannon in relation to the raid.[5][11]

Despite the setback, DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz: The Album was released in December 2007 on the Grand Hustle label.[12] The album's first buzz single, "Takin' Pictures", was released in March 2007 and featured Jeezy, Willie the Kid, Jim Jones, Rick Ross, Young Buck and T.I.[13] The album's lead single—"5000 Ones" featuring Nelly, T.I., Yung Joc, Willie the Kid, Jeezy, and Twista—debuted on BET.[14] The second single, "The Art of Storytellin' Part 4", was released in 2008 and featured OutKast and Marsha Ambrosius.[15] The album peaked at number 26 on the Billboard 200.[16]

In May 2009, DJ Drama released his second album entitled Gangsta Grillz: The Album (Vol. 2), with the singles "Day Dreaming" (featuring Akon, Snoop Dogg and T.I.)[17] and "Ridiculous" (featuring Gucci Mane, Yo Gotti, Lonnie Mac and OJ da Juiceman).[18] In addition to his own studio albums, DJ Drama also continued working on mixtapes, including those for Gucci Mane (Mr. Zone 6),[19] Chris Brown (In My Zone 2),[20] Dead Prez (Revolutionary but Gangsta Grillz),[21] and Wyclef Jean (From the Hut, to the Projects, to the Mansion), among others.[22] In March 2010, Drama appeared on T-Pain's musical television special Freaknik: The Musical, in a voice role as a radio announcer named Mr. Thanksgiving.[23]

2011–present: Third Power and Quality Street Music series, Generation Now record label[edit]

Drama released his third album, Third Power in October 2011.[24] It featured the single, "Oh My" (featuring Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, and Roscoe Dash),[25] and reached number 95 on the Billboard Hot 100.[26] He followed that with the release of his fourth album, Quality Street Music, in late 2012. The album was preceded by the singles "We in This Bitch" and "My Moment".[4][27] The album peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200, which is the highest a DJ Drama album has gotten on the chart to date.[16]

In August 2013, Drama co-founded The Academy, a DJ incubator and art collective, with Don Cannon and DJ Sense.[28] The Academy announced its first roster of 23 DJs in September of that year.[29] In January 2014, it was announced that DJ Drama would join the A&R at Atlantic Records.[30] Within his first year, he had signed several artists to the label, including Kap G, Spenzo, and Que.[31] Throughout this time, he continued hosting and producing mixtapes for artists like 50 Cent (The Lost Tape),[32] Nipsey Hussle (Crenshaw),[33] Snoop Dogg (That's My Work Volume 3),[34] and Big K.R.I.T. (It's Better This Way).[35]

In 2015, DJ Drama and Don Cannon founded the Atlantic Records imprint, Generation Now. One of their first signees was Lil Uzi Vert, and Drama served as an executive producer on Uzi's 2015 debut commercial mixtape, Luv Is Rage.[1][36][37] Generation Now also signed Skeme to the label that year.[38] In July 2016, Drama released his fifth studio album, Quality Street Music 2,[39] with the single "Wishing" featuring Chris Brown, Skeme, and Lyquin.[40]

Generation Now had its first number one record on the Billboard 200 with Lil Uzi Vert's August 2017 debut studio album, Luv Is Rage 2. DJ Drama served as executive producer on the album.[41] Other acts signed to Generation Now by Drama include Lyquin,[42] Jack Harlow,[43] Lil James,[44] and Killumantii.[45]

Discography[edit]

Recognition and awards[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2008 Justo Mixtape Awards Best Dirty South DJ DJ Drama Won [46]
Justo Mixtape Awards Best Mixtape Team The Aphilliates Won [46]
Justo Mixtape Awards Best Mixtape Series Gangsta Grillz Won [46]
2013 BET Hip Hop Awards DJ of the Year DJ Drama Won [47]
2018 Global Spin Awards DJ Record Label of the Year Don Cannon and DJ Drama (Generation Now) Won [48]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b J., Miranda (22 April 2018). "Happy Birthday DJ Drama!". XXL. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  2. ^ Jeffries, David. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kilpatrick, Kate (21 December 2005). ""I'm About to Come Home and Smash It"". Philadelphia Weekly. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Graham, Nadine (15 October 2012). "DJ Drama: Inside the DJ Booth". The Boombox. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Shapiro, Samantha M. (18 February 2007). "Hip-Hop Outlaw (Industry Version)". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  6. ^ Landrum Jr., Jonathan (10 April 2007). "DJ arrested for alleged piracy over mix tapes vows to continue". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b Zisook, Brian (11 November 2006). "Asylum Records Announces Partnership With Aphilliates Music Group". DJ Booth. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  8. ^ Philson, Mike (3 November 2014). "Top 30 DJs In Hip-Hop Right Now". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  9. ^ Crosley, Hillary (17 January 2007). "DJ Drama Arrested In Mixtape Raid". Billboard. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  10. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (18 January 2007). "With Arrest of DJ Drama, the Law Takes Aim at Mixtapes". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  11. ^ Seabrook III, Robby (16 January 2018). "DJ Drama Arrested in Atlanta Mixtape Raid – Today in Hip-Hop". XXL. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  12. ^ Mcgarvey, Evan (11 January 2008). "Gangsta Grillz: The Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  13. ^ "DJ Drama ft. Young Jeezy, WTK, Jim Jones, Rick Ross, Young Buck, & T.I. - Takin' Pictures". DJ Booth. 16 March 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  14. ^ "DJ Drama ft. Jazze Pha, Nelly, T.I., Yung Joc, Willie the Kid, Young Jeezy & Twista - 5000 Ones". DJ Booth. 16 October 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  15. ^ Zisook, Brian (24 August 2017). "OutKast Made "The Art of Storytellin' Part 4" After Cancelling Their Gangsta Grillz Mixtape". DJ Booth. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  16. ^ a b "DJ Drama - Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  17. ^ Reid, Shaheem (26 February 2009). "T.I., Akon Reveal How They Ended Up 'Day Dreaming' With DJ Drama". MTV. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  18. ^ "DJ Drama ft. Gucci Mane, OJ Da Juiceman, Yo Gotti & Lonnie Mac - Ridiculous". DJ Booth. 26 April 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  19. ^ Hockley-Smith, Sam (21 June 2010). "Gucci Mane, Mr Zone 6 Mixtape". The FADER. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  20. ^ "New Music: Chris Brown – 'In My Zone 2'". Rap Up. 26 November 2010. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  21. ^ Reid, Shaheem (21 June 2010). "Dead Prez 'Go In' On New Gangsta Grillz Tape, DJ Drama Says". MTV. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  22. ^ Prince, David J. (12 October 2009). "Wyclef Returns To Hip Hop With DJ Drama Mixtape". Billboard. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  23. ^ Pearce, Sheldon (14 September 2017). "9 of Rap's Most Memorable Animated Moments". Pitchfork. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  24. ^ Ahmed, Insanul (11 October 2011). "DJ Drama's 25 Favorite Mixtapes". Complex. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Video: DJ Drama f/ Fabolous, Wiz Khalifa, & Roscoe Dash – 'Oh My'". Rap Up. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  26. ^ "DJ Drama - Chart History - Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  27. ^ Alexis, Nadeska (11 May 2012). "Drake Drops 'Monster Verse' On DJ Drama's 'We In This Bitch 1.5'". MTV. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  28. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: DJ Drama, Don Cannon and DJ Sense Form "The Academy"". AllHipHop. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  29. ^ "It's Official! The Academy Announces 1st Wave of DJs". AllHipHop. 6 September 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  30. ^ Mitchell, Gail (8 January 2014). "DJ Drama Joins Atlantic A&R Team". Billboard. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  31. ^ Garvey, Meaghan (5 December 2014). "10 A&Rs Behind Your Favorite Artists of 2014". Complex. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  32. ^ "Mixtape Cover: 50 Cent x DJ Drama – 'The Lost Tape'". Rap Up. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  33. ^ Smith, Bruce (15 October 2013). "Nipsey Hussle & DJ Drama - Crenshaw (Mixtape Review)". HipHopDX. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  34. ^ Harris, Gregory (28 February 2014). "New Music: Snoop Dogg & DJ Drama 'That's My Work Vol. 3' Mixtape". Vibe. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  35. ^ Hunte, Justin (14 October 2015). "Big K.R.I.T. & DJ Drama Release Surprise Mixtape "It's Better This Way"". HipHopDX. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  36. ^ G, Nicky (14 October 2015). "DJ Drama and Don Cannon Share Details on their New Company "Generation Now" with Skeme and Lil Uzi Vert". Sway's Universe. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  37. ^ Frometa, RJ (18 December 2015). "Generation Now & Atlantic Records Sign Lil Uzi Vert". Vents. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  38. ^ Harris, Michael (8 August 2017). "Inglewood's Finest Skeme Drops New Mixtape '1st Notice,' Part One of Mixtape Trilogy Series (Listen)". GRIP. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  39. ^ Hernandez, Victoria (21 July 2016). "DJ Drama Creates "Quality Street Music 2" On New Album". HipHopDX. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  40. ^ Mench, Chris (10 May 2016). "Listen to DJ Drama's New Single "Wishing" f/ Chris Brown, Skeme, and Lyquin". Complex. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  41. ^ Shaw, A.R. (29 August 2017). "DJ Drama on Generation Now and the rise of Lil Uzi Vert". Rolling Out. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  42. ^ Ortiz, Edwin (8 December 2016). "Premiere: Lyquin Gets Caught Up in a Love Triangle in "Ungrateful" Video". Complex. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  43. ^ Saponara, Michael (3 August 2018). "Jack Harlow Signs With Generation Now & Atlantic Records, Premieres Frenetic 'SUNDOWN' Video: Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  44. ^ Nav, Josh (13 August 2018). "New Generation Now Artist Lil James Releases Debut Project '21 Years Later'". Hip Hop n More. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  45. ^ P., Milca (11 November 2018). "Killumantii Drops Off Debut "Yellow Tape" Album". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  46. ^ a b c "Crooked I, The Aphilliates Win Big At Mixtape Awards". HipHopDX. 1 May 2008. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  47. ^ Lilah, Rose (16 October 2013). "2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards Complete List Of Winners". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  48. ^ Caslin, Yvette (17 February 2018). "Revolt's 6th annual Global Spin Awards honors hip-hop heavyweights". Rolling Out. Retrieved 12 March 2019.

External links[edit]