DJ Drama is one of the most important DJs of this generation. He’s helped create some of the biggest superstars in this game with his Gangsta Grillz series as well as introduce us to who got next. He’s got two albums under his belt that have boasted features from the who’s who and created classic moments in Hip-Hop. This fall, he’ll be putting his third album, Third Power, out, backed by the Fabolous/Wiz Khalifa/Roscoe Dash-assisted “Oh My” single.
I caught up with Drama on the phone to discuss his “Oh My (Remix),” the new album, his place in the game, what happened to G-Unit and The Dream tapes and much more. The best part is when I asked about Gangsta Grillz that didn’t happen behind the scenes and he revealed two powerhouse ones that might have been classics. Find out the two and a lot more in our exclusive interview.
What’s going on everyone? Today, we’re joined by my good friend DJ Drama. How you doing, sir?
Chillin’. You just dropped “Oh My (Remix).” Response has been pretty crazy. Two part question. How’d you decide to get Trey, Tity Boi and Big Sean on it and what’d you think about Sean’s subliminal shots?
I picked a good lineup. How did I get them? I felt like they complimented what I wanted to do with the remix. Trey, of course, is one of the kings of R&B right now. Two Chainz has definitely been killing the streets of Atlanta as well as the south east region. It was a good place for him to get a showcase off and really rep for the city on that. Big Sean has been doing his thing. He just put his album out –it was a great album. I think his verse is hot, man. I’m appreciative of him doing the record.
Over the years, we’ve seen a few Gangsta Grillz that were supposed to happen and ended up just fading away. Two in particular I remember was G-Unit and The Dream. Can you explain what happened to those?
That was a good question. Nobody’s really asked me that. The G-Unit one was just one of those situations where they were busy and I’m a busy person. It was a conversation that Fif and I had trying to put it in motion. It wasn’t able to happen. Plus, Whoo Kid kept stealing all the music and leaking it *laughs*
The Dream tape. What happened with that? I’m trying to remember. I think Dream’s album was about to come out and it was too close to the album date. To be honest, I really don’t remember. It was either that or a decision by the label. Dream is still the homie, though.
Any chance of those two still happening?
I don’t know. It probably wouldn’t be those two tapes as they were at that time, but I’m sure that me and the Unit will be getting that work in. You know, Dream is the homie. He’s doing incredible things right now. I’m sure we will link back up again.
Have there been other tapes behind the scenes you’ve talked about doing that never happened?
Yeah, one of the hottest tapes that never happened would’ve been the Drake and Gucci [Mane] tape. The three of us had spoke about it at a period. It was going to be a Drake and Gucci Gangsta Grillz. The two songs that had both of ‘em on it – I think one of them had Killer Mike on it [“Street Cred” off Guccimerica] and the other one was Sean Garrett’s “In My Business.” It was around that time period when the tape was supposed to happen.
Another tape that was supposed to happen was the Outkast tape. They called me, I think before the Idlewild album, and was like we want to do a Gangsta Grillz before the album. Of course, I was like, “definitely.” It didn’t wind up happening. They got kind of busy and it got close to the album. That’s when the guys called me like, “look, we’re not going to be able to do the tape, but we got you on a song for the album.” That’s two big tapes that almost could’ve would’ve should’ve happened.
This Drake and Gucci Mane tape would’ve had a lot of potential. Were you the one who brought the two together to possibly do the tape?
Nah, Drake called me one day like, “Yo, I got this idea. Gucci is like my favorite rapper right now, and I want to do a tape together.” I called him to see if he was with it. I got Gucci on the phone, the three of us talked about it and I know they were sending records back and forth. At the time, the buzz on both of them was so crazy. I mean, at that time we talked about, they were two of the hottest niggas in the game. I think schedules just didn’t permit.
What is your dream Gangsta Grillz that you’d love to make happen? Either a solo artist or two artists you’d put together just for the tape.
Oh, that’s tough, really tough. I’d love to do a tape with [Andre] 3000. I think that would be exciting to see him get into mixtape form. Who else? There are still a lot of people, man. It’s hard, me being a student of the game; I’m always infatuated with new shit. So, I love listening to the new guys, but it’s not always about doing the tape with them, just being excited about their music. I’m very heavy on that Kendrick Lamar Section 80.
Back in September, Mack Maine was on your show and announced that Dedication 4 was coming. When Tha Carter IV got pushed back, everyone was expecting it to happen. However, Wayne has just released Sorry 4 The Wait. Were there ever talks of doing the tape after Mack announced it?
Well you know me and Wayne talked about it on the radio too after he got out. We talked about Dedication 4 as well. We both spoke about how the people want to see that happen. If you kind of study the history behind the Dedications, they always came after Tha Carters. Sorry 4 The Wait is its own entity. Tha Carter is its own entity. Dedication, as a series, is its own entity. I don’t want anyone to confuse those projects. To me, Sorry 4 The Wait is still killing a lot of this shit on the streets. People just need to be happy they get free music. Dedication 4 will happen when it happens.
There’s a statement that was put out about you saying this album, Third Power, is a representation of three generations of Hip-Hop you know: what you grew up on, the movement you’re apart of and the future stars. Give me a little more detail on why you chose to do it this way and how you accomplished it with the album.
It’s really always something I think about in my own place in the game. It’s just how I feel about the music and being a grown man who came up in the Hip-Hop generation. Truthfully, it was something that Fab had said on “Oh My” and it made sense to me. I just started to put it into terms. It’s something I see as a vision just as far as what I represent as a DJ and my place in the game. Being that kid who watched Rap City and YO MTV Raps or reading the source and making sure I got every new Clue tape that came out to make sure I was up on the new shit. This helped creating a brand (Gangsta Grillz) and being a part of some of the superstars today, watching artists that I was around early on in their careers that came up on me. It’s really fascinating when you think about the context of Hip-Hop music and how it keeps going. Every year people always ask, “How do you feel about music? Or what do you think about the game?” All continuous questions but throughout the last 25, 30, 35 years, Hip-Hop has made some of the biggest historic moves in music period.
Can you share some of the features and production you got on Third Power?
You know, I really don’t want to give up too much but Jeezy is on it.
*interrupts* One song. Give up one song.
I got a song with Chris Brown that is stupid. Look out for that. Produced by V-12.
“Words Of Advice” leaked back in May. Is that still going to be on the album?
I’m not sure yet. Truthfully, I don’t know yet. It’s possible.
After three albums, have there been any artists you’ve wanted to work with but haven’t yet?
Yeah, there are always those. I could go on a list of a hundred names, really. It’s always artists from legends to the new artists, you know what I mean? That’s the exciting part about putting together an album. There is such a big canvas of songs to put together or who to work with. So many talented artists give so much to my album. I’m just a platform as a DJ. It’s a blessing.