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DJ Drama is one of the most iconic mixtape DJs of all time. His legendary Gangsta Grillz tapes helped propel artists like T.I. and Young Jeezy to stardom. His classic Dedication series reinvigorated Lil’ Wayne’s career in the early and mid-2000s.

By 2007, the underground mixtape market was booming. But in January of that year DJ Drama and his longtime business partner Don Cannon were arrested by federal agents and charged with bootlegging and racketeering. The much publicized raid only boosted DJ Drama’s profile. In the years since, DJ Drama has built a successful record label and he’s continued to make mixtapes. Tyler The Creator even crafted his latest album, Call Me If You Get Lost, with DJ Drama’s classic adlibs all over it. It won the Grammy for best rap album in 2022.

That same year though, while DJ Drama was professionally at the height of his success, personally he was battling an addiction to opioids—an ongoing struggle he’s only recently started to talk about publicly.

On today’s episode Leah Rose talks to DJ Drama about how he got sober after being what he calls “a functioning junkie” who spent six figures a year on opioids. He also tells the story of how Lil Jon recorded his iconic “gangsta grillz” drops in Drama’s laundry room. And Drama explains why he decided to sign Lil Uzi Vert and Jack Harlow to his Atlantic Records imprint, Generation Now.

You can hear a playlist of some of our favorite DJ Drama songs HERE.

The Hosts

Rick Rubin

In addition to being a podcast host, Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder…

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is co-founder of Pushkin Industries and host of the hit podcast Revisionist History. He is a journalist, a speaker, and the author of several New York Times bestsellers including The Tipping…

Justin Richmond

Justin Richmond is producer and co-host of the music podcast Broken Record with writer Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times editor Bruce Headlam, and music producer—and Def Jam co-founder—Rick Rubin. Justin…

Bruce Headlam

Bruce Headlam is one of the co-creators of the music podcast Broken Record. He worked at The New York Times for 19 years, including two years running the 50-person Video…