DJ Drama, the Grammy-winning “King of the Mixtape,” is known for his “Gangsta Grillz” series, which has featured a myriad of prominent hip-hop artists over the years from Lil Wayne to Tyler the Creator. On the new Audible original “DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz Podcast,” presented by Kenya Barris’ Khalabo Ink Society, Drama sits down with some of the notable musicians he’s worked with to unpack his iconic mixtape series.
“He was arrested in a sting for mixtapes. And so he had a special story,” Barris said of his friend during Variety + Audible’s Cocktails and Conversations at Sundance, hosted by Variety’s executive editor Brent Lang.
Speaking about his desire to tell DJ Drama’s story and the cultural significance of “DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz Podcast” Barris said, “Everyone in music has done one, it’s almost an honor to do one. [DJ Drama] wanted to talk about the mixtape genre, he wanted to talk on the verge of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop [about] what hip-hop and music meant to him.”
In conversation with Audible chief content officer Rachel Ghiazza, Barris acknowledged that one might not imagine Audible to be the home for this particular podcast — though that would be a misconception.
“They got it very quickly. You know, it’s a very artist friendly place,” Barris said. “I feel like they pushed us to get it right and get it good. And I think that Drama appreciated that.”
Speaking on behalf of Audible, Ghiazza shared, “One of the things we’ve been thinking about from the early days is how we work on content that is actually original, unique, fresh and feels timely. And so as we were endeavoring to do that, we also start to think about, ‘Who are people who are creating content that we’re really excited about, passionate about — who are breaking molds and doing exciting, innovating, no mold things?’ And obviously Kenya was on the shortlist of those folks.”
Ghiazza also spoke to the importance of character when working on audio projects: “When you’re in audio, you don’t have the visual elements… What becomes really important as you’re making a move into audio is the character — the actual story, the sound. There’s this extremely intimate nature of it, and you have to understand how the components work together.”
Looking ahead, Barris will continue his ventures in the realm of audio. He spoke on his forthcoming collaboration with Malcolm Gladwell on a podcast they plan to host together.
“[Gladwell and I] have the same way of asking ‘Why?’ or ‘How?’ to whatever, to things that people just sort of look at. What’s underneath that? What’s underneath ketchup, what’s underneath Black names?” Barris said.
Speaking of the guests they’ll host, he added, “It doesn’t have to be people in entertainment. Just people from all walks of life and trying to find the origin story of that flash of genius, when and where people find out that they’re going to do something different.”
Barris will also host a podcast inspired by and adapted from Amazon Studios’ “Time,” which debuted at Sundance in 2020 and was nominated for best documentary at the Academy Awards.
Watch the full conversation above.
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