From old-school DJs to a superstar collaborator and friend, here are the three that have gotten Drama to where he is today:
#1: Funkmaster Flex
“When it comes to DJing and it comes to branding, he’s always someone I’ve admired from when I was young. His relevance in the game and what he was able to accomplish as a DJ is fascinating.
Flex was around carrying crates for Mr. Magic, and now he’s on the radio premiering Rick Ross songs, so if you just think about the distance between one and the other, and to be that relevant — Rick Ross is arguably one of the hottest in the game, and he went to Flex to give him the exclusive first…Just that dominance in time [is important].
Somebody like Flex on the DJ side from just everything he’s accomplished and his brand and what his name means to hip-hop — that’s how I want my name to come across yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
#2: DJ Clue?
“Clue is another one. You know, I was just really excited to be a mixtape DJ, [and] the popularity and the attraction to his status really pushed me to really pursue mixtapes as my calling. There’s a lot of ways of being a professional DJ, from parties to radio to mixtapes to producing and so forth, so i guess it was somebody like Clue who really inspired me to want to go in that direction.
A lot of the stuff I was doing was based upon building on top of what [someone] had already laid the groundwork for, so without a DJ Clue, there probably wouldn’t be a DJ Drama. He laid out that legacy of what could be accomplished from mixtapes.”
“I guess one of the things that really inspired me was T.I. being locked up. For me to have had the success with the record while he was gone – keeping the momentum up – was inspiring.
To have him home as my album comes out is a great feeling, because with my first two albums, both times he was on his way back to jail. He got locked up right before I shot my first video and he actually was supposed to turn himself in I think the same day of release, May 19th, so for him to be coming home during this stage and me to have the success that I having, you know, it’s kind of inspiring, you know, it makes me happy.
What set him apart is probably his aura, his persona. I think he comes from that cloth of the LL’s and the Nelly’s and the bigger-than-hip-hop kind of guys – people that the grandmothers love. When he goes to the All Star Game, there’s a loud cheer that goes beyond just being a hip-hop star. He’s known as an actor, he’s known for other things, so that definitely separates him.”