Through every season, Drama is guaranteed to bless the streets with meal after meal of musical buffets from the freshest flavors in hip-hop. Keeping the names of megastars like Lil Wayne and T.I. sizzling between albums and helping to jumpstart careers of countless platinum rappers like Def Jam’s Young Jeezy, Mr. Thanksgiving consistently keeps blocks fed and has forever set mixtape standards via his much-imitated Gangsta Grillz series.
Putting his well-earned industry know-how, music-making talents and strong street influence to the test, he brought the hoods to the ‘burbs in late 2007 with the release of his star-studded Atlantic/ Grand Hustle major label debut Gangsta Grillz: The Album. Formatted like a mixtape, the album featured a menu of respected chart toppers like Outkast, T.I. and Pharell.
Once again bringing to the table an overabundance of main course meals, Drama serves up his major label sophomore album Gangsta Grillz: the Album Vol. 2 set to be released on May 19th. And his grown-and-sexy lead single, “Day Dreaming” is a most mouth-watering appetizer. With Akon wailing on the hook, Snoop and T.I. serenade their fantasy girl on the Drumma Boy-produced club banger.
“I went in the studio to make this an album that’s for everybody,” explains the world-renowned record spinner, “something for the hood, something for the radio, something for the ladies, just a complete project.”
While Drama cranks out hits like a factory, his success didn’t come overnight. An Atlanta transplant by way of West Philadelphia’s Germantown section, Drama moved to the Peachtree State fresh out of high school to attend Clark Atlanta University. A fan of DJ culture since seeing Omar Epps’ character DJ Gee Q in the classic hip hop film Juice, Drama fell in love with DJing years ago when he bought his very first mix tape- DJ S&S’s Old School Part 2 on the streets of Harlem while visiting New York as a kid.
He built his first local buzz in the City of Brotherly Love peddling tapes in high school. By the time he had moved down South, he had the game down to a science. Although his initial catalog of reggae, instrumental and neo-soul mixes got some attention on campus, Drama got the most love after dropping his first southern-based tape Jim Crow Laws.
He renamed the series Gangsta Grillz and got a then-little-known rapper/ producer by the name of Lil Jon to host. Since most artists were not beating down his door for mixtape features at the time, Drama used Jon’s now-famous drop for every following edition. He put Gangsta Grillz mixtapes in every record store, barbershop and flee market in metro Atlanta. And it wasn’t long before Drama got a call from Grand Hustle co-CEO Jason Geter, who offered Drama an opportunity to produce a mixtape in the format of an album, which only featured artists from the label’s group Pimp $quad Click. The CD made so much noise that other artists called upon Drama’s services. And rappers seemed almost obligated to release a Gangsta Grillz mixtape to promote upcoming albums or simply stay relevant between releases.
But Drama’s world seemingly came crashing down on Jan. 16, 2007 when the Feds kicked the doors of his Atlanta office off the hinges, hauled in Drama and fellow DJ Cannon off to jail and charged them with racketeering for selling the same mixtapes that earned him fame and respect.
Adding insult to injury, the police confiscated their equipment, computers and 50,000 CDs. They even took the master copies of Drama’s at-the-time unreleased Gangsta Grillz: The Album. Despite the setback, however, Drama was able to release the album. And this time around, he is sure to top himself with the May 19th release of Gangsta Grillz: The Album Vol. 2.
“After going through what I went through, with the raid and coming out on top, it was important for me to keep the game alive,” he explains. “I still got the album out. It didn’t stop nothing. It’s just a part of my story. I’m here bigger and stronger than ever.”
And he is getting even stronger with undeniable album cuts like the radio-leaked single “Love For Money.” Produced by Affiliates in-house beat maker V12 Da Hitman, a lyrical lineup of Willie the Kid, Gucci Mane, Trey Songz, LA the Darkman, Bun-B and Flo Rida rides amped-up production of sonic synthesizers layered over swift snares and thumping drums.
And on the rowdy riding track “Ridiculous,” Lil Boosie, Gucci Mane and Yo Gotti floss jewelry, watches and rings. They ride high over a helping of Atlanta producer Zaytoven’s quirky, up-tempo violin plucks and gangsta soul organs. But that is only a small morsel of Drama’s endless array of flavors with features from the likes of Nas, Ludacris, The Dream, Busta Rhymes and Too $hort.
“This album broadens the movement and just brings good music to the table,” says Drama. “With the albums, mixtapes and artists, I’m keeping the music alive for those who are coming up under us and representing hip-hop. I don’t want to make it too complicated. It’s just about giving everybody something to ride to and giving them what they want.”