DJ Drama
Under Surveillance

drama-1.jpgThere are plenty of artists who have benefited from working with DJ Drama. The Philadelphia born DJ has redefined the way mixtapes are sold and branded through his Gangsta Grillz series and helped propel the careers of many of hip-hop’s biggest stars including T.I., Lil’ Wayne and Young Jeezy.

Born Tyree Simmons, Drama tapped into the Southern mixtape market in 2000 while he was attending Clark Atlanta University. In April 2003, the young entrepreneur formed the Aphilliates Music Group, which includes Drama and DJs Don Cannon, Sense, Jamad, Jaycee and Ox Banga. For the next four years the DJ collective flooded the South with their mixtapes, working with a slew of rappers. T.I. noticed Drama and recruited Mr. Gangsta Grillz as his DJ and also signed him to his Grand Hustle imprint on Atlantic.

Drama was arguably the mixtape king when the drama really popped off on January 16, 2007. Atlanta’s Fulton County Police raided the Aphilliates office and arrested Drama, Cannon and 17 others for illegally distributing mixtapes and violating Georgia’s racketeering laws. The company’s assets were frozen and their recording equipment, computers and CDs were confiscated. The turn of events shook hip-hop and changed the mixtape game forever.

But all that isn’t stopping the self-proclaimed iPod King from releasing his first major label LP, Gangsta Grillz: The Album (Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records), on June 5. The album features production from Don Cannon, Just Blaze, The Runners and guest appearances by T.I., Diddy, Lil Jon, Outkast and Beanie Sigel. XXLMag.com converses with Mr. Thanksgiving about his controversial arrest and upcoming album.

Can you describe the scene when the police raided the Aphilliates office?
I was in my studio [getting ready] do an interview. Me and [Don] Cannon had stepped outside. It was about 5:30 PM [the day] after the Martin Luther King holiday. We walked outside, next thing you know, two Tahoe’s pulled up. Out of the first Tahoe, about six or seven officers jumped out with M-16’s screaming, “Get on the ground!” I was pretty good under the circumstances until they took my ID and said I was one of the perpetrators. My stomach just dropped. They took me to the car and said, “You’re arrested for bootlegging and racketeering.” They took me downtown after that. They told me [the charge] was under the RICO law. I was in shock, a little stressed, but lucky enough I didn’t spend that long in jail. Really, the only thing I was concerned about was getting bail, making bond and getting the fuck out of there! Me and Cannon were the only ones arrested. Reports [say] they detained 17 people, but all of those people weren’t even employees of ours. They were grabbing anybody hanging out in the street. Then again, they reported confiscating 81 thousand CDs. I know for sure there were no damn 81 thousand CDs. If I had to estimate, I would say there were about 25 thousand in all.

When they raided your office, they took the hard drive with the material for Gangsta Grillz: The Album. How big of a set back was that?
After the raid, I was left with nothing. I got a phone call from Atlantic [Records] and they were like, “Drama, anything is good publicity, can you finish the album in three weeks?” At the time, they knew my hard drive was gone, but you have to stay on your business. So I sat down with the Aphilliates and said, “Let’s go back in and get [this] done.” We pretty much started over. I got in touch with some of the artists that I worked with [prior] and did some new songs. I got some people producing some new songs for me and [now] the album is better than before.

Will your major label album differ from your mixtapes?
I don’t really look at it as different. I keep my same formula. I don’t believe in changing what works. But everything I’ve done on other tapes was practice for my album. This isn’t people sending me songs to put a compilation together. We A&Red almost every song by ourselves. We put the project together. So those [people] who know how I put the other Gangsta Grillz together will ride to this like the others. And the people who aren’t familiar with Gangsta Grillz mixtapes will be like, “God damn, what have I been missing?”

After your arrest, did you feel slighted by people who didn’t come to your defense?
I’ve been asked before, “How did you feel about the lack of support in the industry or rappers coming out and supporting?” At the end of the day, that ain’t what I’m here for. I wasn’t waiting for nobody to come out and support me or say “save DJ Drama.” I just feel [the arrest] lets niggas know this is who DJ Drama is. [Now] watch what I do. That’s just a point to prove that I’m going down as one of the greats. I was on top in January [2007]. I was the mixtape king. I was on the cover of XXL [with T.I., B.G. & P$C]. It was a lesson to never get comfortable. You can never put your head down. You have to stay hungry, which I have done anyway. It’s funny, because if it happened to anyone in the game, I’m glad it happened to me. I still say proudly that I’m a mixtape DJ.

What’s going on with this Chicago DJ saying you stole his name?
What we have going on is mo money, mo problems. There is some no name DJ from Chicago who called my record label and told them he uses [the] DJ Drama [name]. That is the hold up. I might have to do my Notorious B.I.G. thing and come out as DJ Dram. We’re figuring it out now, but I ain’t trippin’, everybody knows who DJ Drama is.

How has the mixtape game changed since your arrest?
It’s definitely changed. One of the largest mixtape websites is no long there. A lot of people are concerned. But I think there is some good to come of this. The RIAA and the music industry are going to look at what we do and understand what we bring to the game. I think the mixtape game will grow from this. People have to know that without mixtapes, hip-hop would not be what it is. DJs help these people sell a lot of records, including myself. I just want to be able to move forward and move the culture forward.

After everything you’ve gone through this year, you don’t seem defeated.
Yo, look at all the press I got. You can’t pay for that type of publicity. I look at it as a challenge to prove I’m one of the greats. If you look at all of the greats, they evolved from adversity and came out on top. Look at Puff’s situation, losing Biggie or earlier on with the stampede at the basketball game. T.I.P. lost Philant [Johnson]. Look at 50 after getting shot. He could have gave up and said, “Fuck this rap shit.”

  • Conor

    So T.I. losing his friend was a good PR move? Hopefully Mr. Eat Turkey and Watch Footbal Day was misquoted

  • beeyo

    @ Conor, I think he means that when something fucked up happens to an artist, it should drive them to keep goin and not let it destroy thrm.

    And I didn’t really think about it before, but Dramatics album is prolly gonna be hot as fuck, and it should be on my Must-Get list.

  • http://xxl q-buro

    anyone care? 1st

  • Holla

    Dramatic! He seems like a real dude, if not a little cocky.

  • HEATROCK

    tht album is gon b hot i jus hope some more bullshit happen and it get pushed or somethng…

  • Ali

    “People have to know that without mixtapes, hip-hop would not be what it is”

    Damn right about that, if there wasn’t so many damn mixtapes about then maybe artists would put out some decent albums that were a bit more street and weren’t filled with half-assed club bnagers.

  • Chicago

    I dont like southern music that much but i have to say Drama is probably the best to do it since Clue in the late 90′s. He just knows how to put music together.

  • Cin-city

    Dram, what the bidniz is??? Big ups to Grand Hustle and Drama. go cop that album when it drops…he one of the realest.

  • C

    Yo conor, why you r u hating it’s not cool cuz. Drama is T.I.’s hommie so it would be a lost for him also dummy!

  • FuckUPayMe618

    Drama a bitch. I wish i would hear that cracka ass cracka saying ni66a around me. He wack the only reason ni66as like him is because of the wayne mixtapes. He aint even a real DJ.

    • captryan33

      u a dumbass who don’t research what u say.If u ever read about DJ Drama he is mixed he has black in his family

  • Bobby Bricks

    It’s Gangsta Grillz u bastards!!!!!!!

  • http://XXLMAG.com YounGuttaBkaBlaqueCzar(LongLiveDaKing)MW

    Stop ya’ll mufuckkin trippin..drama is the dj of the year,..or the past 2 years.he been true to dis shit, and still on it, even after the situtiations and bullshit…fuck ya’ll niggas hatin on drama…The Drama King, and just call G the drama prince…fuck deez haters…

  • hahathasoufontop

    haha the souf on top …cry babies

  • north cak #1

    GANGSTA GRILLZ BIAAOCTCH

  • de Koch King aka Randy F. Baby

    DJ DRAMA and Cannon is a few of the illest DJ’S in the game rite now so all i gotta to say is do what ya do and fuck the police

  • OG Frank

    IT’S GANGSTA GRILLZ YOU BASTARDS!

    Where the fuck is dj clue by the way?

  • OG Frank

    IT’S GANGSTA GRILLZ YOU BASTARDS!

    Where the fuck’s DJ Clue by the way?

  • http://www.msn.com King Ben

    Drama thinks hes a gangsta. Hangs around to many rappers yo but I am a fan of gangsta grillz dough, but how can u have fagget ass Diddy on the album? Like seriously what the fuck does puff daddy really bring to the table besides a ghost writer?

  • Lano

    Fix ya hat dummie.I never heard nothing of his that was tight.

  • 11kap

    whatever. F the pigs anyway.

  • J.R.O.

    I don’t think he is the dopest, or anything, but when they come at one of us, they comin’ at us all.

  • Dade County 305

    a Conor, u got it wrong homie! Drama was just saying people go through adversity and over come it. shit happens and some people get over it and move on. he was right about all those other artist. they had their adversity and they beat it. some people cant move on and never get back on the right track. so Conor dont let the HATE bug bite u homie. keep up the good work Drama!!!

  • Dade County 305

    okok stop the fuckin haitin plzzz! this just for u niggaz who havent heard a Drama mixtape. go cop the mixtapes he did with lil wayne, jeezy,blood raw & slick pulla. thats just a few!!!

  • Lil B.G.

    The Aphilliates nigga, pay attention!

  • opinion

    So???/ Is drama ALLWHITE or does he have any black in him because if hes white and using nigga i lost all respect for him. Caan someone tell me?

  • S.Fraze

    RIAA KICKING DOWN YOUR DOOR FOR MIXTAPES????……

    ….DONT FEAR!!

    VOTE S.FRAZE FOR “FUCK THE FREEMASONS” PRESIDENT 2008″
    “4 YEARS OF TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE OF OUR REAL HISTORY, AND….BEER AND BBQ CHICKEN WINGS”
    “ITS NOT ABOUT WHAT MARY JANE CAN DO FOR YOU BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR MARY JANE!”
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    “FREE COLLEGE EDUCATION FOR EVERY ANCESTOR OF SLAVES IN THIS COUNTRY!!”
    “24 HOUR TV PROGRAMS DEALING WITH EMERGENCY HELP, STRESS, GROWING YOUR OWN MARY JANE, AND TRUTH ABOUT THE GREAT AND HIDDEN SCECRETS OF THE WORLD UNIVERSE ,REGLION, ALIENS, AND THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE!”
    “ALSO 24 HOUR HIP-HOP TV!!”
    “CLONING MEAT AND NOT TELLING THE CONSUMERS THEY ARE EATING CLONED MEAT WILL BE OUTLAWED AND OFFENDERS WILL FACE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT!!”
    “MCDONALDS WILL BE FORCED TO ADMITT THEY SPRINKLE CRACK ON THEIR FRENCH FRIES BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO DAMN GOOD!”
    “EVERY FASTFOOD FRANCHISE WILL BE UNDER MANDATE TO DELIVER!!”
    “EVERY ELITE LEADER FROM MASONS TO THE OWNERS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK WILL BE TRANSPORTED OFF THIS PLANET VIA NASA TO BE WITH THIER ALIEN FAMILY BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT HUMAN!!”
    “GEORGE WASHINGTON WILL BE REPLACED WITH THE WEED LEAF ON THE 1 DOLLAR BILL!!”
    “EVERY PRESIDENT ON THE DOLLAR BILL WILL BE REPLACED WITH DIFFERENT KINDS OF MARY JANE BUDS!!”
    “THE TRUTH WILL BE TOLD EVERY NIGHT ON TV AND ON RADIO AND ON EVERY EDUCATIONAL LEVEL ABOUT THE” FREEMASONS, ILLUMINATI, ROTHSCHILDS, ROCKERFELLERS,AMERCIA,ENGLAND,EVERY WAR EVER FOUGHT,TRUTH BEHIND WOLRD WAR 1 AND TWO, J.F.K’S REAL REASON FOR DEATH,THE EGYPTIANS, THE AZTECS, THE INCAS,THE MAYA,THE ZODIAC,REGLION AS A WHOLE,THE LIES ABOUT IT AND THE TRUTH IN IT, SYMBOLS ON: CARS,GAS STATIONS, STATUE OF LIBERTY,AND ALMOST EVERY COMPANY U MAY BE ABLE TO THINK OF THAT SYMBOL MEANS MORE THAN U MAY THINK..CHRIS COLOUMBUS HIS REAL LAST NAME AND HIS REAL STORY,HOLLOW EARTH,THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THE EARTH, 2012 AND MUCH MUCH MORE THAT U HAVE BEEN LIED TO ABOUT AND MANUALY CONTROLED BY!!

    SO DONT JUST VOTE FOR THE BLACK FREEMASON(BARACK OBAMA)bOOOOO!! AAAAA!! bOOO!!
    DONT VOTE FOR THE FOR THE FEMALE MASON IN THE ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR(HILARY CLINTON)BOOOO!!!AAAAA!BOOO!!
    VOTE S.FRAZE FOR “FUCK THE FREEMASONS” PRESIDENT 08″ yayYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!! tHATS MY NIGGA!!!!!
    yEAH!!!!!!! B-HOOD NIGAAAAA!!!YEAHHHHHHH!!!!
    THAT NIGGA STOLE MY BITCH SON!!! YEAH!!!!!!

    THIS HAS BEEN A “2012″ ADVERTISEMENT

  • 11kap

    MFs aint even ready for 2012, son. they have no fucking clue. They’re just stuck in this 2000/2007 to present day Orwellian nightmare. Y’all country clowns better wake that azz up and start sharing ideas again. fuck this retarded ad campaign going on to dumb you down. The new generation, everyone from age 1 to age 10 to this day are already fucked up in the head, thanks to the media, so tell your children what time it is before they know no better. The RIAA are just mob guys looking for their cut, and they fucked up the whole game with this mixtape sweep. Thanks for nothing, assholes. If Hip Hop is dead, the whole media from radio and tv to the internet is dead too, so you better recognize, suckas.

  • Stax On Deck

    ITS THE APPHILIATES NIGGA! *PAY ATTENTION

  • TRZT

    Who is this fu*kin White dude anyways ? lmao

  • Danny

    TRZT Says:

    April 26th, 2007 at 4:16 pm
    Who is this fu*kin White dude anyways ? lmao

    ^^^ don’t talk with out knowing who you talkin bout…

    You just made your self look real stupid with that comment…

    Ya Dig?

  • S.FRAZE

    @11KAP

    MY FELLOW ENSLAVED AMERCIAN, I COME TO YOU NOT AS A LEADER BUT AS A RUN AWAY SLAVE.MY MIND FREE FROM THE MATRIX MANY CALL REALITY.FREE FROM NATIONAL PRIDE, BICKERING CONTROLED REGLION,AND GOVERMENT HISTORY FULL OF LIES. I HAVE COME TO ONE ANSWER AND THAT IS TO GET MONEY WHILE IT IS STILL AVAILABLE AND TO SPREAD THE “FACTS” WHICH OTHER CAN LOOK UP ON THEIR OWN IF THEY WISH. I HAVE LEARNED OF WARS FOUGHT WITH THE SAME PARTY ON BOTH SIDES.I HAVE LEARNED OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK AND WHO HOW AND WHY IT STARTED AND THE GREAT DEPRESSION WHICH WAS PUT IT PLACE TO CAUSE THE FEDERAL BANK TO BE PUT INTO ACTION.I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT THE ROTHSCHILDS AND THE ROCKERFELLERS.I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT 2012 AND THE KNOWLEDGE OR THE PHONIEX COMING BACK.I HAVE LEARNED THAT THE PYRMIADS WHERE BUILT BEFORE THE 1ST PHARAOH WAS BORN.THAT THEY ARE OF PRE-EGYTIAN ORIGIN AND JUST A REFLECTION OF THE ADVANCED KNOWLEDGE OF THAT TIME.I HAVE LEARNED WHY WARS ARE FOUGHT AND WHY DISEASES ARE SPREAD.I HAVE LEARNED OF REGLIONS TEACHING THE SAME PRINCIPLES.THE BULLSHIT WHICH WE FACE WILL COME TO A HAULT VERY SOON AND WHEN IT DOES WE WILL KNOW OF OUR TRUE SELVES.U ARE WHAT U THINK AND U THINK WHAT U ARE.

    SO DO NOT FEAR THE FUTURE BUT ACCEPT THE FACT THAT THIS BULLSHIT SYSTEM OF LIES AND WARS WILL ONE DAY CEASE.

    AND REMEMBER TO VOTE
    “S.FRAZE FOR FUCK THE FREEMASONS PRESIDENT 2008″

    THIS HAS BEEN A “2012″ ADVERTISEMENT

  • crazyhustla3

    pay respects to DJ Drama

  • Monopoly

    whiteman and his bullshit authority gonna fall into the bottomless pit. That’s why they’re trying to take us back as far as they can before the next election. they suck dicks for a living and eat shit for breakfast. don’t hang with them. They’re only trouble. Wake up, my sisters. The brothers gonna work it out. Gradually, you will find out. Keep an open heart, and just love your brotherman. We got you, baby.

  • ceezy4sheezy

    lmao @everyone who thinks drama is white

  • http://www.xxlmag.com Last Laugh

    Fuck Drama

  • http://xxlmag.com Last Laugh

    DJ Drama

  • http://xxlmag.com Last Laugh

    Dj Drama is a joke

  • http://www.deeeeznuuutzonyourtounsilsbiaaaatch.com Smitty

    yeah drama been holdin it down on tha mixtape scene for a while, i know tha albums gonna be correct, fuck khalid, drama’s takin over

  • fly memphis hustla

    dramatic dj drama tha hardest dj in tha game and imma down south nigga so its nuthin but luv stay up bruh and shit on these all these hoe hatin ass niggas im gone like dro 1

  • http://xxlmag.com TIMOTHY BARR

    GANGSTA GRILLZ!!!!!!!!

  • Mr.Yayo

    Looks at these racist people on this site (sighs at how ignorant they sound) and keeps on listening to Gangsta Grillz mixtapes.Cant wait for the album.

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