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Interview: DJ Drama Talks Education, Acknowledging His Inspirations, and Being Approached by Young DJs

Our next featured guest is an iconic DJ and music executive who is highly respected in both the live entertainment and recording industry around the world. A hip-hop godfather, his seal of approval turns up-and-coming rhymers into stars. His hugely successful ‘Gangsta Grillz’ series took the mixtape market to another level, and he’s always sharing his wisdom to help others advance. He and Don Cannon contributed their valuable insight to an impressionable audience during ‘A Conversation with DJ Drama & Don Cannon’ at this year’s A3C Music Festival & Conference in Atlanta. Please welcome to…DJ Drama! Drama you’re always dropping knowledge, and people flock to events like A3C for a chance to soak up what you’re going to say. And watching you in that setting, you seem to thrive on teaching moments. Why do you tend to approach hip-hop like a professor?


DJ-DramaDJ Drama: I treat hip-hop in a certain manner because I love the culture. I think it’s important to know your education, so I would hope anyone getting into it would be somewhat educated on what they’re doing. If you want to be a DJ you should know your history on DJs. If you want to be an MC? Look, I don’t expect these young boys to be Big Daddy Kane fans because that’s not what they’re growing up on. But if they do know him I’d be highly impressed! But I don’t hold that against them. Music is big on respect, especially hip-hop. How do DJs like Doo Wop, Tony Touch and Funkmaster Flex respond to you? What type of interactions do you have with the ones who paved the way for you?


DJ Drama: I’ve had great interactions! The first time I really met Flex, and me “being on”, was when I was on his show during one of the runs with T.I. I think it was during ‘T.I. VS TIP.’ On the radio Flex said, “Hold on, New York City!  Let me give a proper introduction to DJ Drama!” So he embraced me. All the guys who came before me have embraced me and showed me love. But you don’t neglect acknowledging them like some others might.


DJ Drama: Hell no! I’m the type who gives it back. When I see them I still call them O.G. Even though I may have more Twitter followers than him, DJ Clue is still my O.G.! These guys paved the way for me to do what I do, so I never take it out of perspective! No matter how much success I may I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for a guy like Doo Wop! I never take that out of context. Any generation should do that for those who came before them. Do young up-and-coming DJs approach you respectfully?


dj-drama-press-photo-credit-Zach-Wolfe-2017-billboard-1548DJ Drama: They do me like I do the ones who came before me. They look at me the same way, and I extend my hand to the young guys, too. I know how that is. I was the young guy looking to be recognized by those I admired. Looking up or looking down, I believe in showing respect if respect is shown in the business. That little guy could be the next big thing. I know how the grind is. That’s important on all levels. Naturally paying homage in person is a must, but do you agree it needs to happen more in the music as well?


DJ Drama: Absolutely. When Jay-Z talked about raping mugs for what they did to The Cold Crush, at some point that’s going to make that 13-year-old listening to Jay-Z say, “Dang, who’s The Cold Crush?” If they’re paying attention they’ll go seek it out. Things like that are vital in hip-hop! When Drake says what up to Slum Village, saying he does this for them, that goes a long way because they may never have the success Drake has. But it might make someone check for them because he mentioned them. In turn they’ll understand the school he comes from. Does it ever feel repetitive when you’re asked over and over who inspired you?


DJ Drama: When I do interviews I love to talk about my influences and who I paid attention to. You have to do that. You can’t force it though. It has to come natural. As artists and people in the music business we need to be more aware that we need to educate about our music. We have to treat what we do the same way people treat doctors and lawyers. You’ve made it a point to say something inspirational on all of your releases and in person. Clearly, your fans respond to it. What’s been the most inspiring reaction you’ve gotten from them?


DJ Drama: That’s a hard one. Everywhere I go it’s so humbling from the amount of love and support I get. Off the top of my head I can think of how fast after me and Cannon got locked up that a “Free Drama and Cannon” campaign got started. It was all over the Internet. That happened within 24 hours. That showed me that people really feel what I do. That was a good feeling. But just day in and day out I get admiration from fans, from my peers, from people who are ahead of me in this game. It’s a blessing. It just shows that I have to stay on top of what I do. It’s bigger than me. |

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CREDITS Written by Mr. Joe Walker | Photos – Search Engine Exploration | DJ Drama – as Himself | Producer – Liquid Arts & Entertainment | Creative Director – The Liquidation Committee | Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Copy Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Site Editor – Doug Sims | Webmaster – Doug Sims | Twitter – @LiquidAEMag | Instagram – @liquidmagazine

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