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DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz Mixtapes, Ranked

Illustration for article titled DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz Mixtapes, Ranked

DJ Drama is arguably the most prolific and important DJ of the Golden Mixtape Era, which started roughly a decade ago and is still going strong—among rap heavyweights, only DJ Khaled comes close. The Philadelphia native somehow made himself the face of underground Southern hip-hop, proving instrumental in the rise of many of the last decade's greatest rappers, from T.I. to Young Jeezy to Lil Wayne.


But Drama has hosted mixtapes—meaning he theoretically oversees the final product, from picking the tracks to sequencing them, much like an "official" album's executive producer would, though more often it simply means he shouts distracting, poorly EQ'd boasts every 60 seconds or so—for artists across the hip-hop spectrum, both geographically and artistically, and has built a powerful, shrewdly diversified, distinctive brand. A DJ Drama mixtape is a certification in its own right, benefiting from his signature ability to talk up any artist, and revel in personal triumphs both real and imagined. It's one of the most powerful cosigns in rap.

Ideally, one of his mixtapes showcases a young artist on the verge of a pop breakthrough, or revisits and reinvigorates that breakthrough a few years later. He has worked with the likes of Meek Mill, B.o.B, and Lil Wayne himself before they each found their more polished selves; he has also coaxed established rap and R&B greats like R. Kelly, Busta Rhymes, and Bun B into trying, or retrying, the format. Drama has the foresight to work with artists before they hit radio, and the power to bring them back to his side again afterward.

Each individual tape (all album-length, and readily available for free online) has been a spinoff of his original Gangsta Grillz series: five various-artists compilations of Southern rap dispensed in the streets of Atlanta before Internet distribution became a thing, a subseries now up to 17 volumes overall. What we're addressing today though is as close to his full catalog as we can get: just under 150 in all. Though each individual entry played a role in building Drama's legacy, they aren't uniformly great by a long shot: All mixtapes are not created equal. So, I took it upon myself to rank them. Without further ado, here is a worst-to-best ranking of DJ Drama's entire Gangsta Grillz mixtape series.

145. Katt Williams, All Hail the King

144. Tony Yayo, Gangsta Paradise

143. Ron Artest, Kings of Queens

142. Cory Gunz, Heir to the Throne

141. Fred the Godson, City of God

140. Ransom, Winter's Coming

139. Yo Gotti, Cocaine Muzik 6: Gangsta of the Year

138. Gorilla Zoe, American Gangsta, Part 2

137. Snoop Dogg, That's My Work 2

136. Tyga, Well Done 2

135. French Montana, Cocaine Konvicts

134. Don Trip, Guerrilla

133. Teairra Mari, The Night Before X-Mas

132. Lil Scrappy, G's Up

131. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 15

130. Gillie Da Kid, King of Philly

129. Bobby Valentino, 60 Minutes

128. La the Darkman, The Notorious L.A.D.

127. Yo Gotti, Cocaine Muzik 4

126. Dorrough, Silent Assassin

125. O.J. the Juiceman, O.R.A.N.G.E.

124. Chris Webby, Bars on Me

123. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 16

122. Lil Keke, Minor Setback for a Major Comeback

121. Brisco, Underworld Rise

It should come as no surprise that the very worst Gangsta Grillz mixtape is the one filled with songs made by a goofy comedian trying (and failing) to be taken seriously as a rapper: Katt Williams's 2007 All Hail the King is chock full of unintentional hilarity and struggle raps. One of Drama's earliest R&B tapes, Bobby Valentino's 2010 effort 60 Minutes, is also tough to sit through, hokey and lackluster.

Back when troubled (and currently incarcerated) Atlanta star Gucci Mane was on the rise, his 1017 Bricksquad label was full of young, equally volatile talent. O.J. the Juiceman's 2010 O.R.A.N.G.E. is lined with the same boisterous trap production (from Drumma Boy, Southside, Mike Will Made It, Lex Luger, and Fat Boi) that made his boss a street star, but that signature thump is undercut by O.J.'s grating delivery—see the rough "I'm That Guy" for proof.

Ron Artest's King of Queens is still the weirdest Drama tape ever, full of mostly laughable but sometimes surprisingly not-awful rap songs; take its placement here as a critique of Tony Yayo's 2009 Gangsta Paradise, which is the only "real rap" tape ranked lower.


Meanwhile, back before he was hobnobbing with Diddy and Rick Ross and Khloe Kardashian, French Montana was rapping with Max B, an internet-beloved Harlem rapper who developed a cult following in the wake of his massive (read: 75-year) 2009 prison sentence for manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, kidnapping, possession of a weapon, and conspiracy. French's 2009 Cocaine Konvict is one of his only mixtapes from that period that doesn't feature Max Biggaveli, and it suffers considerably as a result.

Connecticut rapper Chris Webby's 2012 Bars on Me is an odd tape for Drama to host, given that outside of Southern rappers with mild regional buzz, he doesn't typically take on acts without cachet or some sort of profile. That awkwardness permeates Drama's hype-man-style commentary—there's not much to brag about here—but Webby is still a decent rapper. Brisco, a Florida striver on the long list of former Cash Money acts, released Underworld Rise in 2008, and though it's low on the list of Drama's personal highlights, it remains some of the rapper's best work: "This ain't a rap song, nigga / This my life," Brisco raps on "This Is My Life," and though he's parroting Young Jeezy, you can tell he means it.


120. Kirko Bangz, Procrastination Kills 3

119. Soulja Boy, Follow Me

118. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 12

117. Maino, The Art of War

116. Dorrough, Number 23

115. Teairra Mari, Point of No Return

114. Young Dro, Day Two

113. Snoop Dogg, That's My Work 3

112. Cam'ron & Vado, Boss of All Bosses

111. Young Jeezy, The Real Is Back 2

110. Travis Porter, Music Money Magnums

109. Killa Kyleon, Natural Born Killa

108. B.o.B., May 25th

107. Various Artists, Welcome to the ATL

106. L.E.P. Bogus Boys, Don't Feed Da Killaz 3

The promethazine-laced Texas screw-raps of Kirko Bangz permeate all 15 tracks of 2011's Procrastination Kills 3, and while his crooning is crippled, his unbridled ego, which reads like an up-and-comer reveling in cachet he hasn't yet earned, provides some entertainment. By contrast, Soulja Boy's 2009 Follow Me is filled with mirthfully clueless raps of similar content (AutoTuned status boasts) with a different tone—it's a more playful form of braggadocio that doesn't take itself too seriously. Drama has always been a sucker for slapping his label on believable street tales, and Maino is without question a real gangster with a real criminal record: His 2010 hood-philosophical Art of War sells Sun Tzu wisdom with a heavy veneer of Bed-Stuy swagger.

Dallas rapper Dorrough has earned a Gangsta Grillz seal thrice; while 2010's Number 23 isn't the best of the three, it is the truest to form, encompassing Texas rap flair with "Spill My Drank" and the Slim Thug-featuring "Piece 'N' Chain Swangin'." Travis Porter's 2011 Music Money Magnums is exactly what you'd expect from a trio that built a fan base mostly in strip clubs; it's loaded with twerk anthems like "Make That Ass Clap," "Dem Girls," "Down Low," and "Cake." B.o.B.'s 2010 effort May 25th was the last tape released before his pop-heavy major-label debut that same year made him a minor star; as a last hurrah of his underground-rapper persona, it offers up two of his best songs: the Alchemist-produced, J. Cole-featuring "Gladiators" and the Kanye West-produced, Asher Roth-featuring "Fuck the Money." Finally, Chicago duo L.E.P. Bogus Boys have since lost steam, but their 2010 Don't Feed Da Killaz 3 stands as a testament to the importance of mixtape culture; without it, this regional, unsigned tag team probably wouldn't have ever had a platform at all.


105. Lil Wayne, Dedication 3

104. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 17

103. Various Artists, Headcrack Entertainment

102. Omarion, The Awakening

101. Meek Mill, Flamerz 3

100. Dorrough, Code Red

99. Cam'ron & Vado, Boss of All Bosses 3

98. Verse Simmonds, Sex, Love, & Hip Hop

97. T.I., Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 8

96. Lil Wayne, Dedication 5

95. Snoop Dogg, The City Is in Good Hands

94. Gucci Mane, Ferrari Music

93. Shawty Lo, Bowen Homes Carlos

92. Ludacris, The Preview

91. Various, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 9

Enter Lil Wayne. Drama and Wayne have worked on five mixtapes together; as we'll see, the Dedication series is hugely important to the rapper, the DJ, and hip-hop culture as a whole, though not every entry is a winner. Wayne's syrup-drowned AutoTune binge and one too many stand-in verses from the Young Money b-team make 2008's Dedication 3 somewhat of a pain, though his crazed brilliance occasionally spurts through; last year's Dedication 5 is packed with lots of even-more-nonsensical-than-usual rhyming, though there are excellent guest spots from Chance the Rapper and the Weeknd.

Snoop Dogg's 2008…The City Is in Good Hands edges out D5 on the strength of some solid G-funk throwbacks and a handful of Kurupt features. With Snoop, you almost always know exactly what you're getting—smooth, laid-back pimp raps—and he delivers those in spades, with varying degrees of depth and skill. Ludacris' The Preview from that same year is high-profile, but not much else.


As for Meek Mills's hot-headed 2008 Flamerz 3, it's a raw, unpolished look at the talented Philly emcee before he refined his sound and joined Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group. He still amps up the decibels these days, but to much less jarring effect, thanks in part to much glossier production and the oversight of his new boss. Gangsta Grillz Vol. 8 (with T.I. in the lead role) and Vol. 9 (which featured spots from Three 6 Mafia, Lil Scrappy, Cee-Lo, and Ludacris) are both excellent summations of mid-'00s Southern rap.

90. Juicy J & Project Pat, Play Me Sum Pimpin Mane 2

89. itsTheReal, Urbane Outfitters

88. B.G., Hood Generals

87. Sean Kingston, King of Kingz

86. Various Artists, XXL 2014 Freshman Class Mixtape

85. P$C, Down With the King

84. Childish Gambino, STN MTN

83. Young Jeezy, The Real Is Back

82. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 13

81. Gucci Mane, The Movie

80. Pill, 1140: The Overdose

79. Travis Porter, Music Money Magnums 2

78. Busta Rhymes, The Crown

77. QC The Label, Solid Foundation

76. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 11

Brotherly Memphis rap legends Juicy J and Project Pat were early architects of Southern crunk, and that energy seeps into 2009's Play Me Sum Pimpin Mane 2. In an entirely different realm, ItsTheReal, the brotherly rap-satire duo of Eric and Jeff Rosenthal, deftly parodied the genre's clichés on last year's Urbane Outfitters. Their pairing with DJ Drama was unlikely, but a far more bizarre turn in the Gangsta Grillz discography came with 2011's King of Kingz, starring reggae-pop crossover star Sean Kingston, who landed a Justin Bieber feature and unleashed a dutty wine anthem about cougars in the same 40-minute frame.


Elsewhere, B.G., one of the most underappreciated pieces of the early Cash Money operation, dropped 2008's Hood Generals in the midst of talks of a reunion with the New Orleans-based, Lil Wayne-dominated label, and though that didn't happen, the tape did give us "Gotta Get That" and "Ode to the Hot Boyz."

Pill's 1140: The Overdose positioned him as an early player in Atlanta's bubbling indie-rap scene in 2010, and though he didn't get very far, it helped him leverage his short-lived deal with MMG, and the Emile-produced "Westsiders" (featuring Killer Mike) is a shining testament to what could've been. Childish Gambino's STN MTN tape from just last month laments the fact that the former Community star is not generally accepted by DJ Drama's target audience; he also covers Usher's "U Don't Have to Call." Busta Rhymes's 2006 The Crown was a huge deal for Drama at the time, to net such a beloved, multiplatinum star; the tape itself is mostly cobbled together from jacked beats and album leftovers, but there are glimpses of Busa Buss at his most ferocious, and his signature flow is still second to none.


75. Gangsta Boo, The Rumors

74. Lloyd Banks, F.N.O. (Failure's No Option)

73. Shawty Lo, Fright Night

72. Cam'ron & Vado, Boss of All Bosses 2.5

71. Lil Durk, Signed to the Streets 2

70. Young Jeezy, Can't Ban the Snowman

69. T.I., Fuck a Mixtape

68. Snoop Dogg, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment

67. Tyga, Well Done

66. R. Kelly, The Demo Tape

65. Young Dro, Day One

64. Fabolous, There Is No Competition

63. Lil Bibby, Free Crack 2

62. Troy Ave, White Christmas

61. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 10

R. Kelly's The Demo Tape was another monumental coup for the Gangsta Grillz series: the first mixtape of R. Kelly's career and Drama's first large-scale R&B project. The end result didn't live up to the billing sonically, though: Bland, AutoTuned remixes of then-popular hits like Young Money's "Every Girl," Drake's "Best I Ever Had," Kanye West's "Love Lockdown," Soulja Boy's "Turn My Swag On," and Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" all underwhelm.


Gangsta Boo has always been a supremely undervalued member of Memphis's beloved (and Oscar-winning!) Three 6 Mafia, and her 2009 The Rumors will show you why: The dark, horrorcore-flavored "Silent Nite" is an accurate summation of her appeal. DJ Drama mostly made his name in the South, but he did notable work with NYC rappers, too—2012's White Christmas is a highlight of Troy Ave's catalog, and 2013's Failure's No Option was a bright spot for Lloyd Banks during a career lull.

Meanwhile, out in L.A., the first installment of Tyga's Well Done series (released in 2010) takes beat-jacking to weird places, borrowing mid-level hits from J. Cole ("Who Dat"), YG ("Toot It and Boot It"), Dorrough ("Get Big"), and Rocko ("Maybe") for displays of some of his best rapping. It's Peak Tyga, which doesn't tend to be Peak Anything Else, but still.


Back in Drama's comfort zone, he helps take Southern drawl to new heights for Shawty Lo's 2009 Fright Night and Young Dro's 2006 Day One; the latter's "Put Ya Hood Up" (featuring Gucci Mane and Busta Rhymes) and "ATLanta GA" (with Gucci, The-Dream, and Ludacris) are posse cuts that make full use of Dro's scruffy, scratchy voice.

60. Problem, The Separation

59. Quez, Black Boe Knows 2

58. Jim Jones, The Seven Day Theory

57. Various Artists, XXL 2013 Freshman Class Mixtape

56. Yo Gotti, I Told U So

55. Fabolous, There Is No Competition 3

54. Jadakiss, Consignment

53. Re-Up Gang, We Got It 4 Cheap, Vol. 3

52. Gucci Mane, The Movie Part 2

51. Chase N. Cashe, The Heir Up There

50. Lil Wayne, Dedication 4

49. Young Jeezy, It's Tha World

48. Chris Brown, In My Zone 2

47. Gucci Mane, Guccimerica

46. Yo Gotti, Cocaine Muzik 2

Compton rapper Problem has recently made a name for himself by combining hyphy-esque beats from IAMSU! and his Bay Area-based Invasion production crew with a wider assortment of West Coast sounds from L.A.'s League of Starz; last year's The Separation blurs the lines between the two camps and throws in high-profile features from T.I., Snoop, Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown, and Wale. Dipset member and Harlem luminary Jim Jones subscribes to standard mixtape tropes with 2006's The Seven Day Theory, tossing in certified album hits ("We Fly High", "Reppin Time") and 12 (!) Max B features, resulting in a finished product that never lulls.


Over in Virginia, the Re-Up Gang—starring rap duo Clipse, Ab-Liva, and Sandman—lay coke-dealer raps all over 2008's We Got It 4 Cheap, Vol. 3. Clipse have since disbanded (at least temporarily), and Pusha T has found great success in Kanye West's camp since, but this tape proves he was a fierce puncher even then. Outside the street-rap universe, there's New Jersey's Chase N. Cashe, a member of the Surf Club (with fellow super producer Hit-Boy), best known perhaps for his production on Drake's sophomore album, Take Care; 2012's The Heir Up There is a lousy pun but a fine introduction to his innovative softness, especially "Where Do We Go," with a stringy, nimble guitar riff lifted from a Coldplay album, of all places.

Yo Gotti, who is not prone to sampling Coldplay, picked up the mantle for Memphis rap with 2006's… I Told U So, but truly solidified his spot as the national face of the scene with 2009's Cocaine Muzik 2. Gucci Mane's The Movie Part 2 from that same year doubles down on the trap cinematography of its predecessor with the creeping piano of "Awesome" (costarring Snoop Dogg) and the soaring Trey Songz hook on "Beat It Up"; Guccimerica, also from 2009 and one-third of his Cold War series, even landed two Drake features.


45. Lil Reese, Don't Like

44. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 7

43. Jadakiss, The Champ Is Here 3

42. K Camp, In Due Time

41. T.I., The Leak

40. Young Buck, Welcome to the Traphouse

39. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 14

38. The Dogg Pound, Full Circle

37. Slaughterhouse, On the House

36. Lil Durk, Signed to the Streets

35. Young Jeezy, I Am the Street Dream

34. 50 Cent, The Lost Tapes

33. Styles P, The Ghost That Sat by the Door

32. Ty Dolla $ign, Beach House 2

31. Quez, Black Boe Knows

T.I. has always been one of the defining voices of the Gangsta Grillz series; the defining moment of that partnership was 2006's The Leak, which preceded his mainstream coming-out party, King. The former debuted several standouts from the latter, like "Front Back," "Ride With Me," and "Live in the Sky". But surprisingly, that tape is one-upped by relatively low-profile Nashville luminary Young Buck: Also from '06, Welcome to the Traphouse is a reminder of just how promising his career seemed back when he was a soldier in 50 Cent's G-Unit army, filled with rugged street rap like the menacing, name-dropping "Rap Money."

Speaking of 50 Cent, he and Jadakiss are two New York titans who crossed paths with DJ Drama after he'd already built a resilient brand: Fif's 2012 The Lost Tapes recalls the hard-hitting gangsta swagger that initially made him a star, while Jada's 2009 The Champ Is Here 3 swings for the fences with features from Nas, Nicki Minaj, Yo Gotti, and Lox buddies Styles P and Sheek Louch.


Chicago has slowly emerged as a major hub for young, hard-nosed rap talent: Shout-friendly rap anthems don't get much better than Lil Reese's "Us," but his 2012 Don't Like has trouble maintaining that energy level all the way through. Durk's Signed to the Streets, out this year and highlighted by "Dis Aint What You Want," is a more balanced brand of street rap, enlisting help from Reese when his sort of manic energy is required.

Slaughterhouse and Quez (he of the aforementioned Georgia trio Travis Porter) are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but both did great work with Drama—2012's On the House is a dark display of super-knotty rapping with the Freeway-featuring "Sucka MCs" as its centerpiece, while 2013's Black Boe Knows is far less restricted by the technical restraints of old-guard rappity-rap principles and stuffed with fantastic production, most notably from London on the Track ("Dirty Money," "Shawty What's Your Name"), who has since hit the national stage as a producer for Birdman's Rich Gang.


30. Paul Wall, No Sleep Til Houston

29. Rapsody, She Got Game

28. Bun B, Gangsta Grillz: The Legend Series

27. Meek Mill, DreamChasers 3

26. August Alsina, The Product 2

25. Curren$y, Verde Terrace

24. Fabolous, There Is No Competition 2

23. Mike Will Made It, Est. In 1989 Pt. 2.5

22. Nipsey Hussle, Crenshaw

21. Gnarls Barkley, A Trip to St. Elsewhere

20. Saigon, Welcome to Saigon

19. 8Ball & MJG, Gangsta Grillz: The Legend Series 2

18. dead prez, Revolutionary But Gangsta Grillz

17. Gucci Mane, The Burrprint 3D

16. Various Artists, Gangsta Grillz, Vol. 6

From this point on, you're only dealing with winners. The Gangsta Grillz: Legend series produced two great tapes from UGK legacy-bearer Bun B and street-recognized Deep South duo 8Ball & MJG, respectively: Both get can get spotty, but when they hit, they hit hard. The tradition has been carried on by a host of Southern rappers, including Paul Wall, whose 2012 No Sleep Til Houston is highlighted by the syrupy, screwed "Knowmtalmbout."

The dead prez and Gnarls Barkley Two mixtapes are often entirely overlooked: The former remixed then-popular hits like "Exhibit C," "Over," and "Beamer, Benz, or Bentley" into sociopolitical Black Power anthems, while the latter mined the Cee Lo connection, mixing classic Goodie Mob songs with new Gnarls songs and guest spots from Outkast.


Fabolous has built a reputation as a great mixtape artist, due in large part to his There Is No Competition series: The second installment (from 2010) is by far the best, and it finds the NYC jokester, whose punchlines can sometimes get vapid and dull, in rare form. L.A. star Nipsey Hussle's 2013 Crenshaw, which made headlines for its "$100 mixtape" marketing ploy, actually lived up to its promise, if not its price tag: It's a marvel of New West innovation crashing into Old West sensibilities.

15. Meek Mill, DreamChasers 2

14. Pharrell, In My Mind: The Prequel

13. Chris Brown, In My Zone

12. Rich Homie Quan, I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In

11. Rich Boy, Bring It to the Block

10. Meek Mill, DreamChasers

9. Ghostface Killah, Fish N Chips

8. Freddie Gibbs, Baby Face Killa

7. Lil Wayne, Dedication

6. Lil Boosie, Streetz Iz Mine

5. Jeremih, Late Nights With Jeremih

4. Gucci Mane, Mr. Zone 6

3. Little Brother, Separate But Equal

2. Young Jeezy, Trap or Die

1. Lil Wayne, Dedication 2

Meek Mill's DreamChasers series is among DJ Drama's greatest success stories; only Lil Wayne's Dedication tapes are more essential to the Gangsta Grillz catalog. Many of the hits that made Meek a star came from his first two volumes, from the braggadocios "Tupac Back" (with Rick Ross) to the reckless "House Party," the worshipful "Amen" (featuring Drake), and the ominous "Burn." The 2011 original slightly trumps the 2012 sequel, but both played a key role in building the legitimacy of the Maybach Music Group imprint.


Three of the very best Gangsta Grillz mixtapes also happen to be among the most unexpected. Pharrell's 2006 In My Mind: The Prequel, a lead-in to his dismal commercial solo debut, is a great display of rap chops from the legendary super-producer; troubled R&B titan Chris Brown's 2010 In My Zone shows surprising musical range and explores the depths of his talent more thoroughly than most of his studio albums. That one helped popularize the R&B mixtape, but Last Nights With Jeremih perfected it: It plays out like a full album with ballads ("773 Love"); steamy panty-droppers ("Fuck U All The Time." "Rated R"); and a few curveballs ("Go to the Mo," "Ladies," and "Let Me Down Easy").

The series is called Gangsta Grillz for a reason, though, and so it's only right that three of the Top 10 mixtapes come courtesy of three different gangster rappers at their apex. Streetz Iz Mine (from 2006) is Lil Boosie in his prime: The socially conscious (albeit politically incorrect) "They Dykin'," the self-aware "Jealousy," and bangers like "Too Much," and "Set It Off" all help explain why he's something of a folk hero. Gucci Mane has an entire catalog of great mixtapes—he made his name in this format, after all—and 2010's Mr. Zone 6 is among his greatest, with the Atlanta kingpin at his slurry best (see "Rooftops" and "Normal") over signature trap production (see "You Know What It Is"). But the tape that resonates most deeply with the Gangsta Grillz brand is Young Jeezy's 2005 Trap or Die: a certified classic, and an early catalyst for the Atlanta shouter's extended success.

But it's not quite the best. What's really left to say about Lil Wayne's 2005 monolith Dedication, and its even better 2006 sequel? They're important career markers both for Drama and Wayne: "I'm so sick / I go to the hospital and I don't get fixed / I get licked by the brain surgeon," the latter offers as an opening line on the original's Dreamgirls-samping "U Gon' Love Me"; "If I'm losing you, sorry, I'm just brain-surfing," he concludes, and it's a microcosm of everything that makes Wayne so exceptional and so infuriating in the same breath, his stream-of-consciousness raps flowing like an infinite babbling brook that can't be shut off.


But Dedication 2 was Wayne just as he was coming to the peak of his powers, rapped every line as if he'd never be able to rap again, particularly on the "Cannon (AMG Remix)" and "SportsCenter," where he offers the following:

I'm serving this track like Steffi Graf
Roger Federer, there's no competitors
Niggas know my rhetoric
Bitches know my preference
Young god, baby, all them other niggas reverends
Sitting in my big house surrounded by my weaponry
I keep them away like I got leprosy


It's the greatest Gangsta Grillz mixtape because it memorializes the brief period in time when Lil Wayne was the best rapper on the planet, and Drama was, however improbably, in the argument for best DJ.

Sheldon Pearce is a writer living in Washington, D.C. He has written for TIME, SPIN, Wondering Sound, Noisey, HipHopDX, Consequence of Sound, and XXL. He's on Twitter.


Lead image by Sam Woolley.

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