Hip-Hop

New York State of Mind: How DJ Drewski Forged Relationships with Cardi B, Pop Smoke & More

DJ Drewski, Cardi B
Johnny Nunez/WireImage

DJ Drewski and Cardi B during Tanduay After Party With Cardi B And Dave East at The Griffin on March 12, 2017 in New York City.

With his debut album Seat At the Table, DJ Drewski uses his platform to elevate some of hip-hop culture's brightest stars. Unlike other DJs and producers who work with A-listers for a studio album, Drewski took another route with his debut project by highlighting the young talent that will dictate where the culture is heading. 

Released on Apr. 9, Seat at the Table has features from new artists like Rah Swish, Ron Suno and Smoove L, along with Hot 100 breakout stars like Coi Leray, Sada Baby and Fivio Foreign. In terms of heavyweight features, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie serves as Drewski's only big-name appearance, allowing the rookies to steer the project's direction.   

According to Ramahn "Jerz" Herbert, who served as A&R for Seat at the Table, Drewski's ear for new artists is flawless, and he has a knack for bringing everyone together. "As an A&R I was drawn to the fact that Drewski is a super curator," says Jerz. "As one of the first DJs to play Cardi B, Lil Tjay, Pop Smoke and so many more, I haven't seen a DJ like him in a long time that has impeccable taste and is not afraid to break emerging artists."

Since becoming a respected DJ throughout his early years in the Tri-State area's club scene, and working as a producer under Angie Martinez at Hot97, DJ Drewski has prioritized giving newer artists a chance to get their music heard if he genuinely believes in their talent. During his conversation with Billboard, DJ Drewski reflected on five artists he's collaborated with, and spoke on how he met each one, their best trait and his favorite moment with them.

Cardi B

First Meet-Up: The first time I met Cardi was when I was a DJ at all the clubs. She was working at one of the clubs I was DJing at. I think it was probably like Club Lust when she was still working in the clubs. Just by looking at her, you could see her personality. She was very aggressive and she knew how to get money. She was one of those dancers that always stuck out.

On top of that, I found out she does all the social media stuff and we happened to be on Love & Hip Hop during the same season. I also found out she was doing music at that time. She was working with my man Shaft at KSR Records, and it just all made sense. I believe in what Shaft is doing and I believe in Cardi's personality. Before even hearing the music, you could already see she was a star. So why not support a star?

Best Trait: Even though she's a huge personality, she knows how to take direction. So whether it's working with producers, working with writers, she's very open to taking direction. I think that's what really got her as far as being able to still apply your own creativity. When people are trying to tell you which way to go, she’s the one to listen.

Favorite Moment: I was one of the first ones to, you know, show love and support. And she always kind of reminded me of that too. Like there's a clip going around from an old BET Awards where she shouts me out for supporting her. A lot of artists act like they don't even remember who supported them. She surprised me because -- I was thrown off, like, she's tearing up and we're at an award show and there’s radio stations from around the country, all in one room. She stopped to tell me how much she appreciated me. I think that was one of those moments that is going to stand out forever to me because being an artist at that level to still be able to show love, means a lot. 

 

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Pop Smoke

First Meet-Up: I didn’t learn this until like three days ago, but Lil Tjay did an interview with Ebro where he was on his way to a club I was DJing at in the Bronx. Pop Smoke was driving the car that Lil Tjay was in because he couldn’t drive at the time. I met him inside the club and he gave me a song to listen to and we chopped it up. That was the first time I met him, but I didn’t realize that was him until Lil Tjay told that story to Ebro. 

Best Trait: Pop was good at knowing how to play the game. He was really good at finessing. If he knew he needed a feature or whatever, he knew how to put the pieces together to get what he needed. He would figure out how to make it happen, but it wasn't in a bullying way. So if he needed a feature and he didn't know the person, he knew that someone else knew that person. And the way he just presented it made you excited to plug it in the connect for him. 

Favorite Moment: They did an album release for him. I think it was in Brooklyn that time, and he was just so excited. His energy was good and he [was] so happy and seeing that made me so happy. From that album release party, I thought, you know, we go into the club to turn up and he's going to another party somewhere else. But he's like, "Drewski, follow me." I'm like, "Where are we going?" He said we [were] going to the studio and we're going to keep working. That's what he did. We went from the album release party straight to the studio and we was cooking up. A few months later, we got the news that he passed away. 

 

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Lil Tjay 

First Meet-Up: I met Lil Tjay the same time I met Pop Smoke at the club in the Bronx. From that time, for maybe like three months, his name just started coming up and I would ask around, like "Do you know Lil Tjay?" Especially in the Bronx, all the kids rock with Lil Tjay. I reached out and asked him to send me the "Brothers" record. That was the biggest one everyone was talking about at the time. He sends it to me and I put it on the radio. Now the Bronx went crazy now and he's going crazy. He’s a young guy that I seen with a lot of energy. He had the streets, he had the kids and it was like, “I got to support this kid because he deserves it.”

Best Trait: I think he connects with the youth no matter how big he gets. He doesn't detach himself from the streets and I think that's an important trait, especially for artists like him to always be in tune with them. When I say outside, like Tjay [is] really outside and he connects really well with his fans and he's so good that I could see other artists paying attention. Like they’re surprised how big his influence is. When you see other artists get intrigued by younger artists like that, that's important, but that's because he knows how to connect with his listeners, his fans and just the streets. He still has that.  

Favorite Moment: I think one of my favorite moments was doing Rolling Loud with him because it was my first time doing that one and us having to prepare for something big like that. Just the whole process of it and now it’s one of the biggest shows. You know to get to that point and then be on stage and hearing all of these kids that know his song was an amazing feeling. 

 

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A Boogie Wit da Hoodie

First Meet-Up: I remember it was two people that reached out like that was telling me, ‘cause they know like, Drewski always plays new music. So DJ Spazo from Harlem asked me like, "Yo, have you heard of this artist, A Boogie? He's from the Bronx and he's really moving out there."  So shout out DJ Spazo for telling me about A Boogie. I did my research, and after hitting him up to send me a song, I heard he’s doing a show at BB King's. I couldn’t believe it because you don’t just have a show at BB King's by yourself -- no promo, no nothing. But it was Highbridge Label Presents A Boogie and the show sells out. Right there I knew he needed to come to the radio station, we need to talk about it. And it was like his first radio interview. He comes to the station and you could tell he's nervous. But after that interview things went up. 

Best Trait: He got the swag. He's just the fly New York kid, you know? The girls love him, the guys want to be like him, and he just got that New York confidence. It's not even a cocky thing, it's just a confidence drip. Like he's just super swaggy, super smart, you know, he's talented too. Like besides his drip and all that, he's actually a talented artist. He knows where he wants to be. When it comes to music, he definitely sets goals for himself.

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment with A Boogie is maybe the first interview we did. I just think that that was history. You know his first interview on the radio? Like it's the first time he’s ever done that. So I think that was my favorite moment to share with him is being a part of something like that.

 

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Fivio Foreign

First Meet-Up: Fivio was always around when I was in the studio with Pop and Tjay. I seen him in the studio, but he was so animated at first. I didn't even take him seriously and because I know he's not doing this for real. He's just being funny because he's super animated. But then I started seeing people referencing the “Big Drip” song. I see Pop and I see Tjay loves him, so I thought, how can I help his situation? Fivio’s energy is incredible but now he just needs good music. I got a hold of the “Big Drip” record and played it on the radio as a test, and within three to four months things took off. It was one of the biggest records in the club and we were just always around each other. We would be in the studios, the clubs, parties, events, whatever. It was amazing.

Best Trait: His energy is his best trait. He's so fun to be around -- it’s infectious. You want to be around him and his crew. They got their own lingo with the whole “Bow” thing going viral. They just have a special energy about them that’s fun to be around. So even if you're like a super hip-hop head, and you're like, "I don't even like this drill music," you’ll still like Fivio's personality and his energy. Even someone like Nas, that you would never expect to work with artists like Fivio, he must've just been in tune with his energy. If someone like Nas, just working with him says something about Fivio.

Favorite Moment: I think one of my favorite moments of Fivio was when we were cooking up the “Ready” record with Fetty Luciano and Sosa Geek. I think we did it in like two parts. We did it in one studio, didn't finish it and ended it at another studio. But I think that was a good vibe. It was maybe like 20, 30 people in a studio. Fivio knows how to own the room and he just knows how to own every moment. We were just having a good time mobbing out and that's how the record was made. It was more like a vibe. Like sometimes you do a studio session from