Jeezy, under the name Young Jeezy, teamed up with DJ Drama 10 years ago to create Trap or Die. The 20-plus-track mixtape set the standard for free music and helped ignite both Jeezy and DJ Drama’s careers. A decade later, both artists spoke to XXL about what the mixtape means to each of them.
For Jeezy, the mixtape was a last-chance attempt to get his message out, so he “gave it everything I had.”
“The reason why Trap Or Die was so potent,” the Atlanta rapper says, “I always thought in the back of my mind that I was going to be either incarcerated or deceased, and I just wanted to be heard.”
DJ Drama explains that they furthered 50 Cent’s model for how to make a successful career from a mixtape.
“[Trap or Die] took what 50 [Cent] had already established and took it to even greater heights,” he says. “50 had made an impact with mixtapes, taking other artist’s music and flipping it and making it into his own. Then Jeezy and I came along and followed in those footsteps, basically creating the street album. Trap Or Die was the new standard to what you needed to accomplish to be that next guy.”
Both artists also discuss how the mixtape kickstarted their careers.
“I think I wouldn’t have a record deal or any influence if I didn’t do that tape,” the “Put On” rapper says. Since Trap or Die, Jeezy has released five studio albums, including last year’s Seen It All.
DJ Drama says that working on Trap or Die developed the presence that he is now known for on mixtapes.
“I always tell people, even from where I took mixtapes and put my personality into the tape,” he says. “I was becoming known for some of my speeches on the mixtapes. I took what used to be just a form of shoutouts [and] I turned that into a new perspective or new personality on the tapes.”
DJ Drama says he values the intro the most, especially because that is where he first made the tag line “Quality Street Music,” which has become a signature of his.
“Ten years later I’ve been able to brand and make a career off of it,” he says. “Shit is one of those project where legends are made.”
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