Tyree Simmons, or better known by his stage name DJ Drama is a legendary DJ, platinumselling producer, music executive, mogul, and Co-Founder of music label, Generation Now. DJ Drama has maintained an enduring career for over 15 years, by consistently identifying and championing the voices of tomorrow. Whether it be hosting and compiling his iconic Gangsta Grillz mixtapes for Lil Wayne and Jeezy to name a few, DJ-ing for T.I., or signing Lil Uzi Vert DJ Drama always has always had his grip on the pulse of the ever-changing industry. A passion for the future defines every move he makes and remains a recipe for his sustained success as a revered arbiter of the culture and fan favorite behind the decks.
“I’m really just addicted to new music and staying ahead of the curve,” he exclaims. “What I represent and how I envision the culture comes from a mixtape background, because I can’t stop searching for what’s next. That’s the way it’s been from the beginning. As a mixtape DJ, you always want to be the first. Similarly, I’m consistently looking for artists at early stages and cultivating them to be the superstars of tomorrow.”
Born in 1978, coincidentally the same year as hip-hop, the Philadelphia native dropped his first mixtape, Illadelph, at just 15-years-old. After a trip to Atlanta with his father, soundtracked by OutKast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, he fell in love with the southern city and eventually attended Clark Atlanta University, where he met his partner, Don Cannon. During his college years, he often DJed outside and hustled his wares, becoming renowned throughout the local campuses and cutting his teeth at school parties and gigs at nearby clubs. Following his graduation, Drama continued creating, manufacturing, and selling mixtapes throughout Atlanta. Developing a burgeoning D.I.Y. operation, he handled all aspects of the business, from printing out artwork, pressing CDs, and handling distribution and sales.
His early hustle unassumingly built a foundation for his now legendary Gangsta Grillz series. Moving countless physical tapes and tens of millions of downloads, his discography is highlighted by classics such as DJ Drama Meets T.I. & P$C, Jeezy’s Trap Or Die, Lil Wayne’s Dedication 2—“one of the 10 best records of 2006”—according to The New York Times, Gucci Mane’s The Movie, and more. Simultaneously, he assumed DJ duties for T.I. on tour, becoming a knockout presence on stage.
Additionally, DJ Drama unleashed a string of influential official major label full-lengths, beginning with Gangsta Grillz: The Album in 2007 followed by Gangsta Grillz: The Album (Vol. 2). Meanwhile, 2011’s Third Power spawned his first Top 20 hit, “Oh My”, which features Fabolous,Roscoe Dash and Wiz Khalifa. A year later, Quality Street Music bowed at #15 on the Billboard Top 200 and Top 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart powered by the hits “We In This Bitch”, which featured Young Jeezy, T.I. Ludacris and Future, along with “My Moment”, featuring 2 Chainz, Meek Mill and Jeremih, which made it to the Top10 spot. In 2016, Quality Street Music 2 boasted collaborations with Post Malone, Mac Miller, Young Thug and more as well as secured his highest charting hit, “Wishing” featuring Chris Brown, Skeme, & Lyquin, which peaked at #77 on the Hot 100.