DJ Drama Finally Speaks, "The Mixtape Game Needs To Change
DJ Drama (born Tyree Simmons) has kept a relatively low profile since his "Gangsta Grillz" office was raided by both the Georgia police department and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 16. But the Atlanta-based DJ is now speaking out about the incident in which 81,000 CDs were confiscated as evidence, along with cars, cash and frozen assets.
"A lot of the impact is still up in the air because people are waiting to see what comes of our situation. But, I try to look at everything in a positive manner. The mixtape game needs to change for the better. People need to learn from this," Drama said in a recent interview with Billboard.com.
The incident has created quite a bit of uneasiness in the DJ community, with the majority of DJ's sympathizing with "The iPod King" and wondering if they may in fact be next. Since his arrest, several theories have surfaced that attempt to explain the RIAA's calculated investigation of Drama, one that includes him being targeted for withholding his company's address on his CD packaging. But like most of the rumors surrounding the incident, Drama denies this as well.
"It was just never something I did. I don't have bar codes on my mixtapes, because that's not what the tapes are for. None of the products that were in Best Buy, FYE or Target came from DJ Drama."
Citing mixtapes' influence and longevity as a staple in breaking new hip-hop artists and as a vehicle to getting new music to the public, Drama doesn't see the mixtape industry going anywhere anytime soon, but acknowledges that some changes must be made.
"There's going to have to be some agreement between labels and artists that makes everyone comfortable. Even if the labels figure out a way of working directly with the DJs to get the mixtapes done by offering an upfront fee that makes sense on their end and on ours. It could create a system that makes mixtapes comfortably buyable," he says.
"I've heard the 'mixtape martyr' term, but I don't go backward, I go forward. Not just where does DJ Drama go, but where does the mixtape game go from here? People need to realize how important mixtapes are to hip-hop and the music business. Just look at the careers of people like 50 Cent, Young Jeezy, DJ Clue, and Jay-Z. There are people in very powerful industry positions that owe a lot to mixtapes."