Ask any rap fan to name the most prominent DJ in his region right now, and the words DJ Drama are sure to spew out of his mouth. Introducing the rap world to platinum-selling Def Jam artist Young Jeezy and ATL sensation Young Dro as well as keeping fans satisfied with exclusive pre-albums from Lil Wayne, Young Buck, Bun-B of UGK, Eightball & MJG and Project Pat with his Gangsta Grillz mix tape series, Drama has supplied stirring street soundtracks to every block, back alley and trap house like a pirate radio station on disc.
For his next move, the Atlanta-based mix tape messiah brings this street music to the mainstream with the February release of his Grand Hustle/ Atlantic mix tape album Gangsta Grillz. Following the same formula that branded his trademark, the album flows with blended, mix tape transitions between songs and features many of the hottest names in rap music.
“This won’t be the first time that street music came to the table, but I’m going to show them what I got. I introduced a lot to the world, and now I’m gonna introduce it on a bigger plain,” Drama explains. “This album is going to bring the movement of southern rap culture, the mix tape game, quality hip hop to the masses where they no longer have to go to a street corner or a bodega or the Internet to know about Gangsta Grillz.”
Born and raised between West Philadelphia and the city’s Germantown sections, Drama became a fan of DJ culture since copping his very first mix tape- DJ S&S’s Old School Part 2- after a trip to New York City with his older sister. But it wasn’t until being captivated by Omar Epps’ character DJ Gee Q in classic hip hop film Juice would he step behind the ones and twos himself.
Early on, Drama created a local buzz selling mix tapes in his high school and deejaying at house parties. After graduation, he moved down south to attend college at Clark Atlanta University and brought his hustle game along with him. He began peddling mix tapes on campus with a catalog that included a reggae series, instrumental series and neo-soul series. But his bread and butter came when he dropped his first southern-based tape Jim Crow Laws, his fastest-selling tape to date.
Quickly recognizing the demand for southern mixes, he renamed the series to Gangsta Grillz and asked then-upcoming crunk king Lil Jon to host. It was an instant hit. Before long, Drama got a call from Grand Hustle co-CEO Jason Jeter, who wanted Drama to do something that had never been done before- compile an album-like mix tape with only artists from the label’s group Pimp $quad Click. And classic mix tapes from many of the rap game’s top players came back to back.
“The brand has been the success of many careers- myself included. It’s helped Young Jeezy’s career; it’s helped DJ Don Cannon’s career. It’s helped the Aphiliates’ career; it’s helped T.I.’s career. It’s helped the streets,” Drama insists.
And the Cannon-produced lead single “Cannon (remix),” featuring Lil Wayne, T.I., Freeway and Aphiliates Music Group artist Willie the Kid, is just a subtle warning until the album drops.
On the gritty, mid-tempo banger “187,” Project Pat’s choppy, chant-like rhymes contrast with Eightball’s calming verbal stabs, MJG’s quick tongue twists and B.G.’s nasally whine on the hook atop a dark bass line and eerie synthesizers. On “Definition of a Gangsta,” Memphis money maker Yo Gotti trades war stories with Baton Rogue bad boys Lil Boosie and Webbie over dynamic bass pounds, haunting pipes military-styled cadence. And on the stunt fest “Million Dollar Baby,” Lil Wayne swings his nuts like num chucks on top of Just Blaze’s muffled heavy metal guitar riffs while Drama gives motivational speeches on the hook like a boxing trainer.
And on the breezy, Khao-produced “Cheers,” the Clipse and Pharrel toast their drinks to prosperity and wealth aided by live drums, soft cymbals and a neo-soul vibe.
But just because Drama delivers the best that the Dirty South has to offer, don’t think that his limits are below the Mason Dixon line. Beanie Segal and Cassidy collaborate on the 80s-influenced “No Rules.” Testifying over a faint electric guitar and dramatic piano chords, Beans bears witness to his situation with Dame Dash while Cassidy advises about the cautions of central lock up.
Already ghetto gold from mix tape downloads, bootlegs and Ipods, Gangsta Grillz is packed with more hits than your favorite rapper’s Myspace page and certified platinum before it even hits the stands. “You roll down your window in any hood and you’ll hear a Gangsta Grillz drop,” says Drama. “You can go to any hood in any city and ask somebody if they got a Gangsta Grillz. They gone tell you yes. If you don’t know who DJ Drama is, you don’t know nothing about hip hop right now.
In 2005, less than 3 years after their groundbreaking inception, the ‘Aphilliates’ DJs ignited an international mix tape revolution of epic proportions that would surpass in popularity and influence all similar types of entities before their time. Propelled off the worldwide acclaim generated by their now legendary mix tape series ‘Gangster Grillz’, helped to turn the Aphilliates into a household name. One of the key masterminds behind the Aphilliates unprecedented global success is co-founder and CEO DJ Trendsetter Sense, the man who came up with the company’s name. Sense along with business partners DJ Drama and Don Cannon, all Philadelphia natives who met while attending Clark University in music mecca Atlanta, Georgia, forever changed the landscape of hip-hop music by ushering in a mix tape series that has become the standard to which all others are judged.
Born Brandon Douglass, a/k/a DJ Trendsetter Sense, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he is the great-great nephew of iconic freedom fighter and noted lecturer Frederick Douglass. A life long lover of exceptional music, Sense as a youth worked relentlessly on perfecting his DJ skills and playing sports where he excelled at slot wide receiver and corner back for the state champion Susquehanna Township High School football team. Shortly after his sophomore year was completed, Sense transferred to Parkway High School where he attended for both his junior and senior year before graduating. Although only 18 years of age, Sense already a veteran DJ at the time took his array of talents to college where he quickly became the ‘it’ campus party DJ en route to becoming Hotlanta’s most sought after personality. After earning a B.A. in mass communications with honors from Clark University and forging an indelible friendship and business partnership with Cannon and Drama, Sense set out to change the state of music. With his popularity at an all-time high Sense became the featured DJ at seven of Atlanta’s hottest nightclubs, working a different gig every day of the week. So in demand off his solo club success and the steadily growing street buzz created by the Gangster Grillz mix tapes, is what enabled Sense to single handedly negotiate a landmark radio show deal with Atlanta’s premier hip-hop and R&B station, Radio One affiliated Hot 107.9. Granted creative control, the Aphilliates radio show entitled Gangster Grillz quickly became Atlanta’s number one on-air hip-hop show and helped to majorly establish Sense as a bankable superstar DJ.
Regarded throughout the music industry as the consummate all around disc jockey whose talent has and knows no limits is the A-1 reputation that has allowed Sense to serve as touring DJ for Disturbing Da Peace, Ryan Leslie, and Grammy Award winners Monique and Killer Mike. Having had a career thus far that few DJs can only dream of is the calling card for a humble soul who’s been the undisputed backbone of an organization credited with launching the career of rap superstar Young Jeezy. Additionally, Sense has worked with, interviewed, and provided DJ services for a plethora of celebrities and businesses to include T.I., Ludacris, Lil’ Wayne, Usher, Jay-Z, Trina, Mary J. Blige, P Diddy, Jill Scott, Jermaine Dupri, Magic Johnson, TLC, Carl Thomas, Mase, 112, 50 Cent, Biz Markie, The Neptunes, Run DMC, Vibe Magazine, Playboy, MTV, BET, and Bloomingdales.
Mentored by two of the music and radio industries most respected executives, Jeff Dixon CEO of Disturbing Da Peace and Jerry Smokin’ B the former program director of WHTA HOT 107.9 in Atlanta, were the men who helped mold Sense into the budding mogul he is today. An entrepreneur of the highest kind, Sense is the founder and CEO of Trendsetter Management, Inc. and a 50/50 partner in the much heralded Rhythm and Streets mix tape series with multiple Grammy Award winning songwriter/producer Bryan Michael Cox. The Rhythm and Streets collection that previously featured music sensations Chris Brown, Keri Hilson, and Trey Songz is poised to do for R&B what Gangster Grillz did for hip-hop, and that’s totally dominate. Proving “the mark of greatness is when everything before you is obsolete and everything after you bears your mark”…Trendsetter DJ Sense.