Hip-hop DJs had a phenomenal 2011. DJ Khaled continued to break new ground for record spinners—bringing home a triple platinum plaque for his star-studded single, “I’m On One,” Funkmaster Flex dropped bombs online (inflexwetrust.com) and DJ Envy kept both the airwaves and TV rockin’. DJ Drama, DJ Holiday, DJ Scream and DJ Ill Will kept the block hot with plenty of jammin’ mixtapes and Philly’s own Cosmic Kev and DJ Diamond Kuts put on for their city. Let’s not forget hilarious British personality Tim Westwood, who provided fans with some of the most entertaining interviews of the year. With a new year around the corner, XXL presents the top DJs of 2011. Press rewind. —XXL Staff (@XXLStaff)
Billed as the number one DJ on Philadelphia radio station Power 99 is no small feat, but it seems to come easy for Cosmic Kev. Known for getting the best freestyles from today’s biggest artists—including Wale, Meek Mill, Mac Miller, Game, Young Jeezy, Jadakiss and Big Sean—he might be most remembered this year for Kreayshawn’s controversial appearance, which started a spat with Rick Ross.
Philladelphia DJ, Diamond Kuts had a breakthrough year in 2011. The female record spinner rocked two slots on Philly radio station, Power 99, served as Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown’s tour DJ, landed an endorsement deal with Crush Soda and made appearances on BET shows, 106 & Park and Spring Bling.
DJ Ill Will continued his chokehold on the mixtape game for the second year in a row, releasing a slew of material over the last year from established acts like Trina, Bow Wow and Consequence, to buzzing new comers like Tyga, Cory Gunz, Los and Kid Ink. His Web site, hotnewhiphop.com also remained a hub for fans to download the latest rap tapes in the game.
Brick Squad’s official DJ had plenty to celebrate in 2011. Along with his Holiday Season mixtape series, DJ Holiday also dropped Gucci’s Writings on the Wall 2 and Waka Flocka Flame’s Salute Me or Shoot Me 3, and, for the second year in a row he was the official DJ for the BET Hip Hop Awards.
Atlanta’s own DJ Scream made a lot of noise in 2011 in multiple fields. On the radio, he continued his gigs at Hot 107.9 and Sirius XM’s Hip-Hop Nation. As far as mixtapes, he dropped heatrocks from Gucci Mane & Future, Soulja Boy, CyHi the Prynce, Pill and Plies. In August, he signed to Rick Ross’s Maybach Music Group—where he is poised to release a compilation album next year. It’s about to get even louder.
Whenever a rapper makes a trip across the pond to the UK, one of the first stops they make is to veteran British DJ, Tim Westwood and thanks to the Internet, hip-hop fans from around the world can check out the hilarious BBC 1Xtra personality and his amazing interviews. Last year alone Westwood chopped it up with Drake, Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj, Lupe Fiasco, Tyler, the Creator, Snoop Dogg, Yelawolf, Game, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Ghostface Killah, and Nas, to name a few, and posted all the entertaining Q&A sessions on his YouTube page. Cheerio!
The People’s Choice, DJ Envy had a career year. Along with continuing his role as the VJ for MTV’s Sucker Free programming, the Queens native landed his own morning show, The Breakfast Club, with Charlamagne tha God and Angela Yee on New York’s Power 105.1.
Mixtape pioneer DJ Drama dropped quite a few notable releases this year, including projects by Young Jeezy (The Real is Back 1 & 2), Meek Mill (Dreamchasers), Curren$y (Verde Terrace) and 2 Chainz (T.R.U. REALigion), while also hinting at a possible tape with pop star/occasional MC Justin Bieber. Dram also put out a new studio album in October titled Third Power, which featured the Billboard-charting single, “”Oh My” with Wiz Khalifa, Fabolous and Roscoe Dash.
Veteran DJ Funkmaster Flex may have been spinning records on New York’s Hot 97 for nearly two decades, but like fellow Big Apple rap icon, Jay-Z, the Bronx Bomber continues to stay relevant. His show on Hot is the premiere place for artists to break records and the biggest acts in the field routinely stop by for blockbuster interviews. In addition, FMF’s Web site, inflexwetrust.com, has become a competing destination online for new hip-hop music, news and gossip. This year also found Flex returning to MTV for the second season of his car show, Funk Flex Full Throttle. Now drop a bomb on that!
With all due respect to Ludacris, DJ Khaled should be known as the official mouth of the South. In addition to holding down his duties as president of Def Jam South and Miami radio station, 99 JAMZ, Khaled’s artist Ace Hood, had a breakthrough year with his hits singles, “Hustle Hard (Remix)” featuring Lil Wayne and Rick Ross and the Chris Brown-assisted banger, “Body 2 Body.” The Terror Squad/YMCMB rep also released his fifth compilation, We The Best Forever, his first since signing with Cash Money Records in the Summer of 2010—which garnered his most successful single to date, the triple-platinum certified smash, “I’m On One.” With another album, Kiss the Ring, as well as Rick Ross’s God Forgives, I Don’t LP—which he A&Red—set to come out early next year, Khaled’s already setting himself up for a great 2012. Victory!