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DJ Drama

Source: Radio One / Radio One Digital

Serendipity in Hip-Hop is a recurring theme and no one knows this better than DJ Drama. Sometimes things just come together. Quite a few rappers have to thank him for deciding to stay put, but, as he shared in a recent interview with Atlanta’s Hot 107.9, Jeezy was the first to show his appreciation for his Gangsta Grillz success.

In fetti form.

Back in the early aughts, Drama, born Tyree Simmons, was a few years out of Clark Atlanta University and instead of returning to his native Philadelphia post-graduation, he decided to make a career for himself down in the A.

“Around that time Coach K was a neighbor of ours,” Drama revealed. “He lived around the corner from me and [DJ] Sense in the Fourth Ward. And he eventually told me about this new artist he was working with named Young Jeezy. Coach used to bring him through, he would come to the crib and I would make show CDs for him. This was way before we did a mixtape together.”

Drama added, “He came to me with a vision and that was the first time I ever got paid for a mixtape — [when we released] the Jeezy Tha Streets Iz Watching Gangsta Grillz. We dropped that at Birthday Bash 2004, and in no time that’s all people were talking about in the streets of Atlanta that Jeezy Gangsta Grillz.”

Drama went on to explain the impact that Gangsta Grillz had on his circle of partners The Apphiliates and Atlanta rap as a whole, back in the early 2000s.

“This was really how Gangsta Grillz as a brand really started to make waves,” said Drama. “Me, Sense and Cannon would put all our drops on there. It was almost a platform for all of us [Aphilliates] in a lot of ways. We would put all our drops on there. Whether it was Trendsetters or Cannon. Cannon was producing at the time and ‘Go Crazy,’ the joint with Jeezy and Jay Z, that has a mixtape history to it too. I used that on T.I.’s Down With the King mixtape. I had a T.I. a cappella and I had a bunch of Cannon beats, so I basically took the a cappella and put it over the ‘Go Crazy’ beat, it’s like, the last record on there.”

According to Drama, Jeezy hadn’t even heard the track until he decided to spin it at a party for the Snowman. He recalls Jeezy immediately asking Cannon about the beat and one could say that the rest is history.

Said Drama, “That was Cannon’s first placement which wound up on Jeezy’s album which wound up having a Jay Z feature. All of this is happening around the same time. From that moment of thinking ‘when’s this gonna happen?’ to it all happening overnight, I looked up and Gangsta Grillz was the hottest thing out and everybody was calling my phone or asking, ‘Who’s this DJ Drama?'”

Now that’s a history lesson.