Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN chop it up with three of Philadelphia’s finest: DJ Drama, rapper Cassidy, and comedian Michael Blackson. Relocating to Atlanta to attend college, Drama would earn a reputation as one of the hottest DJs in the city, teaming up with DJ Don Cannon and Don Cannon to form Aphilliates Music Group. However, his bread and butter came with the popularization of his Gangsta Grillz mixtape series, which helped revolutionize the game, but also garnered headlines following the 2007 raid of AMG’s headquarters and Drama’s arrest. Persevering through that setback, he bounced back, helping discover Lil Uzi Vert and continuing to be a conduit between the industry and the streets.
Cassidy also shares his story of his come-up through the rap ranks, his time as one of the hottest young stars in the game, and the legal battles that stifled his career. And last, but not least, comedian Blackson gives insight into his own journey and the landscape of the comedy world.
To help give fans a recap of the “Drink Champs” episode, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from it. Take a look at them below.
1. DJ Drama On The Negative Stigma Surrounding Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia has produced numerous talents, particularly in entertainment, but has also earned a reputation for bad blood between its natives. Drama speaks on the negative stigma surrounding his hometown while giving his take on what it stems from. “Yeah, it’s been accurate ever since I was born and raised there,” the DJ says when asked of the internal friction. “I don’t know if it’s the gift and the curse of us having the name ‘The City of Brotherly Love,’ but one thing about Philly is we’ve always had so much talent.But, me moving out, I guess I was able to see [more]. I think a lot of it is just the fact that there’s not as many outlets as other places.”
2. DJ Drama On Lil Uzi Vert Putting A Diamond In His Forehead
A co-founder of Generation Now — the record label that helped introduce Lil Uzi Vert to the public — Drama shares his reaction to the new diamond the rapper recently encrusted in his forehead, attributing the move to Uzi’s outlandish persona. I thought it was genius,” he says. “I think Uzi has been doing [this] since the beginning of his career. It’s just, like, he’s a master of attracting attention. I saw him say when he saw the diamond, he was like, ‘I’m Lil Uzi, I can’t just put that on my finger, I gotta put that on my fucking head.’ So, that’s the type of individual he’s always been, he was a rockstar from the beginning.”
3. Cassidy On Parting Ways With Swizz Beatz
Cassidy’s tenure as the flagship artist of Swizz Beatz’ Full Surface Records yielded three successful studio albums and multiple hits. However, the tandem ultimately split due to creative differences with Cass quelling any rumors of any animosity between either party. “Me and Swizz never went through a discrepancy, I think that’s a misunderstanding that the world got,” the “Hustla” MC says. “I guess they think when people separate, they had to go through some misunderstanding or some type of problem, but me and Swizz, we never even argued before. We never had no misunderstanding. We never beefed with Swizz before... I wanted to go in a different direction than he was going in. We didn’t agree in the direction that we wanted to go in for my career, so we just decided to part ways and just go in different directions. But, it’s all love, it was never no [personal] issues.”
4. Michael Blackson On Comedians Having Writers
When a conversation about ghostwriting in hip hop transitions to the inner-workings of comedy, Blackson gives his take on comedians hiring writers to help assist them on their material. “It’s possible,” he says when asked if a comic can be considered great despite having writers. “I mean, there’s a lot of great guys out there. You gotta write some jokes, [but] at the end of the day, you still have to deliver that joke. You have to make it into your own, so it’s possible. I was watching one of my favorite comedians of all-time, Eddie [Murphy]. And I watch Raw [and] Ed’s deliveries and I see Keenan Ivory Wayans write [for Eddie] and Eddie, to me, is great. When you’re a comedian, you get to a certain part in your career when you’re just extremely busy, you gotta get [assistance]. There’s nothing wrong with hiring writers.”
5. Cassidy On The Backstory Behind His Legendary Battle Against Freeway
Cassidy’s epic battle with former Roc-A-Fella Records artist Freeway caused major waves during the early aughts with The Problem besting the highly touted prospect in a landslide victory. Cass reveals the chain of events that set the battle in motion and the part his ego played in that history-making moment. “It was always that type of energy between them,” he says of the rivalry between JAY-Z and Swizz Beatz. “So one day, I was in the studio with Swizz, it was a Mary J. Blige song. Swizz did the beat and JAY-Z was rapping on it, but they had did it, like, a minute ago, so she wanted them to update the song. Swizz to update the beat, JAY-Z to change the verse around a little bit, so she set up a session for them to come through and do that. Me and Swizz get there first and while we in there, he fucking with the beat. I get hungry, so I tell Swizz driver to take me to McDonalds and shit, and while I’m going to McDonalds, the whole Roc-A-Fella on Hot 97. This is that legendary [Hot 97] they had when they was going crazy on the radio. They talking ‘bout they wanna battle niggas and all that, and I felt like they was talking bout me ‘cause I was active at that time. Even though they wasn’t, I just felt like they was. And JAY-Z’s like, ‘Yo, niggas said they wanted to call up and battle, guess how much they say they wanted to bet? $10,00?! Holla!’ He talking crazy to niggas that wanna bet small money and all that, so I just feel personal about it. So when I get back to the front of the McDonalds, I tell Swizz about it and he’s like, ’Oh, it’s cool, JAY-Z coming to the studio tonight anyway to redo this verse.’ So, I just start sitting on the couch, thinking I’m bout to meet JAY-Z for the first time. I been was a fan. So, I’m just happy he’s coming through, but also I’m thinking about these young boys he got.”
6. DJ Drama On The Origin of Gangsta Grillz
The impact that DJ Drama’s Gangsta Grillz mixtape series had on hip hop cannot be understated, as it helped introduce the world to legends like Jeezy, T.I., Gucci Mane, and others. Drama shares the inspiration behind it and how it came to fruition. “Gangsta Grillz as a concept, it was a south CD that I needed to have [so I had] something for everybody,” he explains. “As I was paying attention to the mixtape game and the direction it was going in, my influences was coming pretty much from what was happening up top, and people weren’t applying south music to that formula. And niggas told me that’s not what niggas in the south wanna hear. They didn’t wanna hear talking on the tape, they didn’t wanna hear exclusives. They didn’t wanna hear new shit and I went totally against the grain and did all that they said niggas didn’t wanna hear, and that’s how Gangsta Grillz was pretty much created.”
7. Cassidy On The Controversy Surrounding His Sophomore Album
Riding high off the success of his gold-certified debut, Split Personality, Cassidy was primed to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with on the brink of his sophomore follow-up, I’m a Hustla. But, a legal battle stemming from murder charges kept him from fully capitalizing on the opportunity, causing the album to underperform. “I couldn’t promote the I’m a Hustla album,” Cass explains. “It was the first platinum ringtone, the shit was going crazy and they had a nice crazy promo run for me to make it even more of a movie. But, I wasn’t really there to execute, and this was before the social media days. Nowadays, if that would’ve happened it probably would’ve been more beneficial for the song, people would’ve understood what was going on. But, back then, no social media. It was hard for people to understand what was going on. They ain’t fully understand the story and that kind’ve affected how big that project would’ve been.”
8. Cassidy On Being Charged With Attempted Murder
In 2005, Cassidy was charged with murder, attempted murder, reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, conspiracy and weapons possession in connection to an incident in which a man was shot and killed, and two other men suffered gunshot wounds. Ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault and possession of an instrument of crime, he sets the record straight on the events that led up to his shooting and the misinformation surrounding his involvement. “People think it was somebody trying to run down on me,” he says. “Like I was trying to get robbed or somebody was ‘bout to come kill me and AR saved my life. No, that was an issue that they was going through. There was in a situation and I gave them the guns ‘cause they was acting like they were shooters, so if y’all got guns and y’all shooters, everybody comfortable. And when I gave them guns, that’s how the whole situation went wrong and niggas got shot, and all that, and I got snitched on and told [on] like I was a shooter. So, that’s how I went to jail for a murder, but it was nobody defending me.”
9. Cassidy On His Relationship With Kurupt
During a game of Quick Time with Slime, N.O.R.E. asks Cassidy to choose between rappers and Philly natives Black Thought and Kurupt. “Kurupt [is] my nigga,” Cass reveals. “I ain’t gonna lie, back when I was a young boy, like before Ruff Ryders and all that, I was bout to go sign to Kurupt. He was in the city, he was active and niggas took me to him, and I was ‘bout to sign to him, way back in the day. And he prolly called my phone, like, last week, FaceTimed me, let me know what’s going on. So, I fuck with Kurupt personally.”