By: Hot Gossip Gal After sales for Mobb Deep and Lloyd Banks failed to restore many peoples faith in the G-Unit faculty, internal moves are being made to restore credibility to the 50 Cent empire. And rumor has it that Director of Marketing/Office Manager Sheena Curry was fired last week from her role at the unit. No real reasons were given but apparantly bottles were being popped as she left the building. Hopefully G-Unit will be handling bizz accordingly once again and the blue cup cakes at album release parties will be a thing of the past.
By William E. Ketchum III At the end of his Separate But Equal mixtape with Little Brother, DJ Drama screams, “My swagger is at an all-time high! Nothing can take me out my zone!” But if you look at what Drama’s been doing for the past few years, it’s not hard to take him seriously. Along with being T.I.’s official DJ, the bearded board handler’s Gangsta Grillz mixtape series has taken the streets over in such a manner that everyone from southern slingers Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne to bi-coastal mainstays Jim Jones and Snoop Dogg is enlisting his services. Atlantic Records also recognized game, and has brought Drama aboard for an official Gangsta Grillz album, whose guest list would frankly take up too much space for this article. In an interview with HipHopCrack, DJ Drama reminisces on his come-up and gives his take on today’s mixtape scene. HipHopCrack: How did you get your start on the mixtape scene? DJ Drama: Basically, I just started by trials and tribulations. I was in high school, I was just putting together tapes, selling them out my locker for five dollars. I did my first tape with a cover in like ’95, and this was around the time when S&S, Doo Wop, and others pretty much reigned surpreme. I was trying to follow in the format that was already laid. I remember Doo Wop put out “95 Live,” and I kind of followed his formula. I put out a tape called “Illadelph” that had a couple of local at the time, but also became national artists out of Philly, giving me exclusive freestyles for my mixtapes and everything. That was my beginnings. HipHopCrack: What made you decide to take your mixtapes seriously? DJ Drama: I always took it seriously from day one, but I think that years later, being a DJ. … I started doing mixtapes when I was about 16 or 17, and when I got about 19 or 20, after moving to Atlanta and being a DJ for a few years, you realize that with the clubs, you have to rely on promoters to pay you or book you. I wasn’t on radio, I was (only) on college radio at the time. I was trying to get on mainstream radio, but I felt like the radio stations weren’t paying attention. So for me, it was just that the mixtape route was my own route, because I was my own boss on that. That was the best way for me to get my name out there; I was like “f” a promoter, and “f” a radio station. If they don’t see my talent, I know what I’ve got, so I’ma just do it myself and put it out to the streets. HipHopCrack: Gangsta Grillz is what a lot of people know you for. DJ Drama: It just came about from being creative, really. I never planned on that being my claim to fame; it was just a mixtape series along with many that I did. But I was onto something; I created a brand, I rocked with it, I fed it, I let it grow, and it became the phenomenon that it is today. So it just came about from me doing what I do, basically. I can’t front—it wasn’t anything that was planned, but once I started it and realized I was onto something, I ran with it. HipHopCrack: How did you establish that brand from scratch? DJ Drama: I always had visions and goals and directions that I wanted to go in. As a DJ, my main objective on the mixtape level was (to establish a reptuation, so that) when people go to the store to get my mixtapes, you didn’t necessarily have to go look at the playlist and read what was on the tape. I wanted them to be like, “Oh, that’s that new DJ Drama? Get me that.” That was my goal from early on, and by doing that, that’s just what I struck out to do. I wanted to differentiate my tapes from everything else on the market, and that was by making sure that I had exclusives, or just making my product different from everybody else. I was out to make mini-albums; that’s what I was trying to do, that was my early goal as far as creating a brand. HipHopCrack: How do you form relationships with so many big name artists from jump? DJ Drama: I’ve been in the game a long time, so thosre relationships come from years of just being around. It’s like the NBA. You come in the game as a rookie, and you might sit on the bench for a couple years and everything. You might see people like Jordan, Kobe and AI, and they’re in the league with you, but you’re not on their level; but you still meet them and play them in the game and everything. Even if you’re on the bench, you still need to shake their hand before the game. And on the same level, other artists like TI, Jeezy, even The Roots and Kweli, I came up with all those guys. I’ve seen their careers from very early on, and people see the same thing with my career. But along the road, I’ve also been able to meet people like Puff, Russell Simmons or Jay-Z that I grew up on. But now, those are my peers; I’ve scored my 30-plus, and I go to the all-star game now, so you play with the same all-stars you grew up on. Everything’s about in relationships. It comes in time, nothing is built overnight. HipHopCrack: As much as you work with bigger artists, how important is it for you to work with newer artists? DJ Drama: To me, just as important to working with artists that are superstars. As a DJ, that’s part of what I do—break artists. That’s one of the reasons I’m so well-respected in the game and in the streets. It’s not just that I have superstars hosting my mixtapes, but I’ve also been in a position to break new artists. Hip-hop is a very fresh culture, and people are always looking for something new, so it’s about having your finger on the pulse. I take pride in being able to spot what’s coming out, what’s about to be hot, what’s fresh, and what I can bring to the table, so people can be like, “Yeah, I remember hearing that on Drama’s tape.” HipHopCrack: Primarily, you work with southern artists. Is it a challenge for you to work with a Saigon or Jim Jones? DJ Drama: It’s not a challenge for me to work with anybody; if it’s hot, it’s hot. I grew up in Philly, and I spent the last 10 years of my life in Atlanta. So that tells about the type of individual I am: I grew up on East Coast hip-hop, but now I’m a mainstay in southern rap culture. So if a Saigon has hot music and a Jim Jones has hot music, it’s nothing for me to bang out. I represent hip-hop as a culture. I take pride on holding the South down, and I take pride in being part of the southern explosion. But at the same time…it’s like when people say that you’re an actor, but then you’re a black actor. Black actors are actors at the end of the day, whether they’re black or not. The music is hip-hop, so I don’t care where it comes from. HipHopCrack: How do you think that the southern mixtape scene and east coast mixtape scene are different? DJ Drama: I don’t think they’re different anymore. I think at a time, they were different, but I think the south is pretty much caught up. I don’t think that the south was on the same level as the north when it came to mixtapes, because it was primarily an east coat and up north culture for years. With the exception of people like Jelly and Screw, and it wasn’t wasn’t even a big mixtape scene with those guys, it was a different direction. Now, I don’t really tihnk there’s a difference. Hip-hop is so expanded, and after what 50 Cent did to the mixtape game and revolutionized it, I think that regardless of where it is, it’s so big, so it’s all the same. But one thing I think the South has had an advantage of for a number of years is the money aspect of mixtapes. Up north, it was like the crack game when it comes to the wholesale prices. It wasn’t making that money like the south was making, but times have changed. HipHopCrack: You’re signed to Atlantic Records. Do you find yourself having to switch hats, working with Atlantic execs one day and with street artists another? DJ Drama: Not really. I’m a very well-roudned individual, and I just do me. They signed me because they respect my grind as DJ Drama, so I don’t try to be anything that I’m not. DJ Drama’s a hustler, he’s a DJ, a businessman. I wear all those hats gracefully. HipHopCrack: Over the past few years, major labels have really utilized mixtapes a lot. These days, you can find a mixtape in Best Buy; that’s not something you’d always see. What do you think of that, and what affect do you think that’s having on the mixtape scene? DJ Drama: It’s grand! It was only right that the mixtape DJs get their due and major labels start realizing the power. It’s not surprising to me, it’s just like everything with hip-hop in the last 25 years. It just keeps growing and growing, so nothing really surprises me. HipHopCrack: Well as far as the growing goes, people say that hip-hop has been wattered down with all of its growth. Do you think that the mixtape scene has suffered the same fate due to its exposure? DJ Drama: Mixtapes are already watered down. Mixtapes are a dime a dozen, everyone thinks they can do it. I’m just always one to discard what I don’t like, and I applaud what I do like. I don’t think that there’s that much of an extreme of major labels and mixtapes that it’s come to a watered down point. I think the mixtape game in itself, and people not being authentic DJs making mixtapes waters that down more than anything. HipHopCrack: Elaborate on that a little bit. DJ Drama: People think just because you can get on the Internet and get some songs and get a cover made and put it together, that it’s a mixtape and you’re a DJ, and that’s not the case. I thank God that I was raised on the mixtapes and DJs that I was raised on. I come from the era of S&S, Ron G, Doo Wop, Clue…people have said that Clue changed the game for the worst, but he had his own lane, and that’s why he is who he is today—he rode his lane and he followed his niche. I don’t think there’s enough DJs that respect the culture or take a pride and passion in the art of the mixtape. That goes in from the packaging level, to the quality of the CD, the skill on the CD, the mic game, the exclusiveness. I don’t put mixtapes out just cuz; I have a purpose out there. There’s an elite group of others out there doing what I do, and there are some new jacks coming up as always. I still think there’s some good in it, but just like everything else in hip-hop—just like everyone thinks they’re a rapper, or everyone thinks they can make their own label, everyone wants a mixtape. HipHopCrack: You had a blog with xxlmag.com for a while. How did that happen in the first place, and why aren’t you there anymore? DJ Drama: It happened because my man Brendan (Brendan Frederick, online editor) over at XXL, when they revamped the site, he came to me and was like, “I want to give you this outlet to get out there and be a blogger, and write what you want to write.” I’m glad I did it, because I wasn’t aware of the internet hip-hop culture, as far as the bloggers or the chat rooms and all that stuff. Because I started doing that, I got put up on it, as far as the forums and all that stuff. It’s a whole ‘nother culture that I got to see. There’s a lot of geeks on there, there’s a lot of nerds, there’s a lot of haters. But at the same time, they’re real fans of hip-hop, so it’s interesting to read what they talk about. I put up my comments every time I got the chance. I don’t do it anymore because I really wasn’t that consistent with it, and I think they wanted someone at XXL to be more consistent. I had my hands full in a lot of different areas; I wasn’t the greatest blogger, to be honest.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno Chris Lighty, CEO Violator Management announced an agreement that would have his company direct the career of Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. The agreement will ‘specifically implement brand extension plans intended to expand Diddy’s reach and influence exponentially in music.’ Violator also manages the careers of 50 Cent, Busta Rhmyes, Missy Elliot, LL Cool J, Three 6 Mafia, Fantasio and a host of others. Violator will begin work on promoting Diddy and his album Press Play immediately. To get the latest on Violator management, check outViolator.
By: Hot Gossip Gal Having watched numerous media outlets report on pregnancy and perhaps even their inability to get pregnant, J Lo finally sits down and discusses the ‘baby’ or rather lack of in the December edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Having found herself sitting on the top of prestigious fashion magazines best dressed list, Jennifer is quick to say in an interview with the magazine that she and third husband Marc Anthony are not with child. Our fave girl on the block also denies all reports made by the English tabloids that she was attempting in vitro fertilization. Rumors like this just obviously come with the price of fame.
By: Rizoh As anticipation mounts for the release of his first album in three years, Jay-Z has taken the promotion of Kingdom Come in his own hands. The Def Jam CEO will host a live radio program, "Street Certified," on November 18 where he’s expected to play some of his favorite tracks and take calls from listeners. Jay-Z’s DJ gig begins at 8 p.m. on the Sirius Satellite Radio’s Hip-Hop Nation channel. So, get your tape recorders ready.
By:Hot Gossip Gal Ok so the Doctors Advocate CD finally dropped into my mail box yesterday. Couple of surprises, the cover features a cute pic of his son as opposed to The Game himself., but you gotta love these men in Hip-Hop repping for their kids so he gets props from me for that. And he gets extra points for shouting out his baby’s moms Aleska "for being the best mother"…that isn’t something we see much of as baby momma drama is more talked about than how the gals hold it down for the kids when Daddy is out on the road or in the studio. Game then gives a shout out to "the whole D Block, the whole Terror Squad and Fat Joe" hmmm I mean we heard him discuss he relationships with his former G-Unit enemies during his serious press run so maybe that was to be expected. BUT what stood out to me was the fact that Games once mentor Dr. Dre only gets a brief mention. There is no extensive dedication to Dre in the liner notes of The Doctors Advocate which is pretty surprising when 75% of his album is spent lyrically adoring and validating his relationship with the mighty Doctor of the Math.
By: Rizoh A 17-song CD by iconic rap group N.W.A. will be available on December 26 through Capital/Priority Records. The CD/DVD package titled The Best of N.W.A.: Strength of Street Knowledge contains the greatest hits and music videos from the legendary gangsta rap crew. Songs like "Straight Outta Compton," "F*** Tha Police" and "Express Yourself" are all included on the CD. Nine songs from the album will debut Dec.12 as ringtones, with 35 different audio clip options. In addition to rare interview footage of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and the late Eazy-E, the DVD also features music videos for "Straight Outta Compton," "Express Yourself," and "100 Miles and Runnin’". Below is the track list for The Best of N.W.A: The Strength of Street Knowledge: "Straight Outta Compton" "Appetite For Destruction" "Dope Man" "F*** Tha Police" "Real Niggaz" "8-Ball" "Express Yourself" "Alwayz Into Somethin’" "A Bitch Iz A Bitch" "Gangsta Gangsta" "100 Miles and Runnin’" "Boyz-N-The-Hood" "Real Niggaz Don’t Die" "Compton’s in the House (remix)" "Approach to Danger" "Chin Check" "If It Ain’t Ruff"
By: Hot Gossip Gal Rumor has it that the candidate ready to sit behind Jermaine Dupri’s desk at Virgin is none other than Mr. Manager himself, Blue Williams. Famed for guiding the career of diamond selling super group Outkast and establishing himself as one of the most competent managers in the game boasting a roster now that includes Nick Cannon and Miami’s Diamond Princess, Trina, this Bronx native definitely has the right credentials to become Mr. President.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno Prosecutors in the felony gun possession case against rappers Lloyd Banks and Young Buck were dropped yesterday after an investigation determined they were innocent. In August 2005 Banks and Buck were riding in a van with their entourage when it ran a red light in midtown Manhattan. When officers pulled the van over they discovered a loaded handgun and another weapon in the vehicle. The rappers had just come from performing at Madison Square Garden as part of the Anger Management Tour 3 with Eminem and 50 Cent. Barbara Thompson, spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said that an investigation revealed that neither Banks or Buck were in possession of the weapons and that one suspect had already pleaded in the case while another is under indictment. "This whole experience reminds me of the title of my new album – Rotten Apple," said Banks, obviously plugging his album, in a statement.
By: Hot Gossip Gal For some reason Foxy Brown just can’t avoid drama. Or maybe the drama just can’t pass her by. Rumor has it that Def Jam head honcho Shawn Carter is so disappointed in his once Brooklyn co- hort that she may be dropped form the label. Having already lost her book deal with Simon and Schuster earlier this year it looks like she will be looking for a new home musically too. Her book Broken Silence was to be released around the same time as her fourth studio album Black Roses. ‘Lack of productivity’ has been a reason for the unconfirmed split between Inga Marchand and The House that Russell Built. It was said that Foxy was also trash talking about Jay Z and fellow label mate Rhianna just to add more fuel to the fire. Not quite sure where she gets the time to be talking trash about anyone when her name is in the news for beating up on manicurists, not paying for underwear and then chewing gum in court. But alas, when all press about you is of the negative variety and you aren’t doing exactly what is expected of you, it obviously does become a problem for those that put a roof over your head.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno Mary J. Blige, the undisputed queen of hip-hop soul, has been putting it down for almost 15 years now so it’s fitting that a collection of her greatest songs is set to be released. The album, Reflections: A Retrospective will feature songs from all her album starting with 1992’s What’s the 411 plus four new songs including the new single “We Ride (I See the Future)”. “Mary J. Blige has reached the defining moment of her life – as a vocalist, as a songwriter, and as a human being,” said Ron Fair, Chairman of Geffen Records. “Her new album Reflections- A Retrospective is an essential collection of songs that solidifies Mary as one of the greatest recording artists of all time. Anyone who has ever suffered loss, experienced pain, been in trouble, gave love or been loved,can find themselves in the music of Mary J. Blige." The album is scheduled to drop on December 12.
By: Hot Gossip Gal In a in depth interview with Elle Magazine, Beyonce clears up a couple of thoughts that have been on the minds of many as we have watched her act a little different in her videos and listened to her ‘to the left’ songs from her second solo album, Birthday. Miss Knowles explains in the interview that she is not angry and nor was her track Ring the Alarm in any way connected to the rumors that boyfriend of four years Jay Z was actually dipping out on our favorite independent woman for the sultry Caribbean Def Jamette Rhianna. Beyonce however did mention that she didn’t want to do ‘another album full of love songs’ which was what her first album consisted of as ‘it is boring.’ And what better way to increase sales than to start people talking about tracks like Ring the Alarm and the current track in heavy rotation, To the Left. As previously reported on crackSpace.com Beyonce made sure she joined her man Jay Z on his world tour where he shared the stage with other Def Jam artists such as Ne-Yo and ahem… Rhianna. Beyonce has made comments in previous interviews that the reason her relationship with Jay Z has weathered the test of time is down to the duo’s ability to keep tight lipped about their private life.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno H3Enterprises announced that Diplomats emcee Juelz Santana will help introduce H3TV, a new LCD flat screen television made specifically for competitive video gaming. Juelz will participate at a live demo taking place this week at Warren Sapp’s Hip-Hop Soda Shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. "H3TV is by far the hottest LCD flat screen on the market," said H3′s Chief Communications Officer, Adrian "Hollywood" Walton. "And for hardcore gamers like me, H3TV is a gift from heaven. On Wednesday when I stop talking, you all are going to witness the future of HiDefTV and trust me; you will be amazed by what you see." According to Walton, H3TV offers simultaneous gaming competitions on the same screen, fully integrated gaming consoles compatible with both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and a multitude of split screen options available with just the touch of a button on the most user friendly remote on the market. HTRE is planning a second public presentation of H3TV in Harlem next week in conjunction with the Dipset crew.
By: Hot Gossip Gal Only two months after the birth of her second child with possibly the most talked about wanna be husband turned rapper, Britney Spears and husband Kevin Federline are calling it a day. Papers were filed by the Louisiana pop sensation at Los Angeles County Superior Court yesterday, the reason for the divorce being cited as irreconcilable differences. Brit Brit is looking for sole custody of her two children with K-Fed and as an air-tight pre-nup was signed before the two embarked on their two year overly exposed attempt at marital bliss, money definitely isn’t going to be a major issue in this divorce. Having stopped by the David Letterman Show earlier in the week to show off her new physique, it is doubtful that Brittany will be single for long and K-Fed should have plenty of lyrical content for his sophomore album now after his first attempt Playing with Fire literally crashed and burned.
By: Rizoh Comedian and host of this year’s BET Hip-Hop Awards Katt Williams was arrested on Monday (November 6th) at the Los Angeles International Airport after officials found a weapon concealed in his carry-on luggage. Williams, 31, was cuffed at 3p.m. in Terminal 5 after security officers discovered what law enforcement source described as a "cheap, Saturday night special," according to TMZ.com Katt Williams was booked on felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon along with other unnamed offenses. Authorities also claim that the weapon had been reported stolen. Three additional weapons were packed in the baggage that Williams had previously checked in. The comedian, who recently appeared in his own HBO comedy special and signed a recording contract with Diplomats Records, is expected to host the first annual BET Hip-Hop Awards this week. The show will be taped in Atlanta on Sunday, November 12. A telecast is slated for Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
iHipHop Blog Team