Release Date: Oct 2, 2012
Record label: Entertainment One Music
Albums from hip-hop DJs -- like not a rapper, not a producer, not a turntablist, but a hip-hop DJ -- aren't considered highly anticipated unless you're Tony Touch, Red Alert, or DJ Drama. The man behind the Gangsta Grillz mixtapes and the man literally behind T.I. and his Grand Hustle crew continues to do the improbable on his 2012 release Quality Street Music, a mistitled set that goes a little pop when Wale, Tyga, and Roscoe Dash team for "So Many Girls," but the "Quality" part is right on, and the guest list is the best kind of ridiculous for rap fans.
DJ Drama has been a relentless force in the mixtape scene for nearly a decade now, with his success in executing full-lengths landing somewhere around commendable. It’s clear that he realizes there’s a stark contrast between delivering a front-to-back solid project and feeding listeners’ mixtape after mixtape for sheer relevancy, and that role plays out appropriately on Quality Street Music. With literally every artist under the sun at his disposal, DJ Drama does an impressive job with his collaborative pairings.
When DJ Drama and DJ Khaled first thrust their names into the national conversation in the mid-2000s, there was never an expectation that these guys could craft good albums. What they were doing, and still find ways to do, was in many ways the most cynical take on what sells a rap album since the glory days of No Limit and Bad Boy. While both DJs possess great value in their local communities (especially Drama, whose Gangsta Grillz series continues to facilitate many artists’ best, most free work), their approach to album making amounts to little more than rappers and producers as commodities, as dollar signs listed on the back of a jewel case enticing the vagrant big box browser to scan their eyes across 40 radio famous, internet-famous and mixtape-famous rappers and assume that ridiculous number of recognizable figures might somehow result in a cohesive product.
DJ Drama doesn’t stop. It’s been just under a year since he dropped his last album, Third Power, and now the Philadelphia native is back with his fourth official effort, Quality Street Music. Over that same span, he’s hosted countless mixtapes next to the game’s biggest heavyweights—from 50 Cent to Meek Mill to Lil Wayne. Though his shit-talking skills on his mixtapes are the stuff legends are made of, its the opportunity he affords himself on album—stepping into the role of an A&R, playing matchmaker with his considerable industry friends—that opens a new window into his broader capabilities.