There’s no doubt that DJ Drama has built an empire out of his Gangsta Grillz mixtape series. Since dropping some of his earliest GG mixtapes in the mid-2000s alongside artists like Young Jeezy, T.I., and Lil Wayne, Drama has put together a massive discography that includes well over 100 mixtapes. Thanks to him, guys like Yung Dro, Yo Gotti, 2 Chainz, and the aforementioned artists have sustained careers in between their official releases. And, as a result of all of his hard work, his stamp of approval really means something. Gangsta Grillz releases aren’t just mixtapes; they’re events.
It’s one of the reasons 50 Cent has decided to team up with Drama to release a Gangsta Grillz mixtape. Once upon a time, Fif could put out a tape on his own and get plenty of props. But after watching his last few mixtape releases stumble out of the blocks, he’s turning to Drama for help. Once upon a time, you also wouldn’t catch Drama giving his stamp of approval to artists outside of the South. It’s not that he didn’t like East Coast or West Coast acts—remember, Drama is actually from Philly—it’s just that he made his mark by giving shine to Southern artists. So, him teaming up with 50 will make this even more of an event than usual.
This obviously isn’t the first time Drama has stepped outside of his comfort zone, though. In the past, he’s worked with a number of different kinds of artists—with mixed results. So, with the news about Drama and 50 working together breaking recently, we decided to take a look back at the 10 most unexpected Gangsta Grillz mixtapes of all-time to see which worked out well for both Drama and the featured artist…and which didn’t.—Chris Yuscavage