Run It: DJ Drama Talks The Evolution Of The Mixtape

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By: / August 30, 2013

DJ Drama chronicles the street album’s excursion from cassette to digital dominance on the day Lil Wayne is expected to make his mix tape comeback with Dedication 5

Something about a mixtape DJ always seemed larger than life to me. You could go anywhere and you could hear a Clue tape. When I first got to Atlanta, I’ll never forget just how big Clue was. Because there were people from all over the country that came to the A to go to school, and everybody had a Clue tape.

When I used to buy mixtapes, it was like a cult. I used to have to go to specific stores, like this spot in Philly called The Layer, on 13th and Chestnut, or between Germantown and Shelton Ave. When I came to school and had the song with ’Pac, Biggie and Heavy D or the “One More Chance (Remix),” it was like, “You ain’t got this?” Everybody couldn’t get their hands on it. It came out on a mixtape.

Now, the culture is so connected visually and virally through the Internet, it’s so easy for us to get our hands on everything. The appreciation is not there—we’re such an “it’s gone the next day” environment. Even though it’s different from when it started, it’s bigger. I haven’t printed an enormous amount of mixtapes since Fabolous’ There Is No Competition 2, but my tapes are just as relevant as they’ve ever been. It’s adapting; it’s linking up with sites like Dat Piff and understanding the value.

There are a lot of kings when it comes to this mixtape shit. I’m going on 10 years straight being that guy. I know movements, and what that means for the culture. I try to stay relevant with guys on the come up—me and Meek Mill are a killer combination in the streets. It’s about having that cosign. The DJ is an element of the rap game; but it’s also the timing and movement around the mixtape. —AS TOLD TO CHRISTOPHER HARRIS