Active since 1995, DJ Drew Atlas has opened for prominent names like Usher, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Russell Peters, Mos Def, and Common, while also hosting CJSW, Power107 and Vibe985. After nearly 30 years in the entertainment industry, Drew caught up with me to chat about what his life looks like now and how things have changed over the last few decades. Reflecting on racist stereotypes in music, representation, and leadership, he shares what he learned as a Black man within the creative industry, while also considering how his experiences impact his role as a father. Finally, after all those years brushing shoulders with stars, he shares the best advice he ever received from Russel Peters.
This podcast episode with Alia Aluma & DJ Drew Atlas is made in association with 10 at 10 Hip Hop and Culture
It’s no secret that music streaming and self-publishing platforms have radically changed the way we consume, make and mix music today. Within all of these changes, I wanted to learn more about how the music industry’s growth has impacted DJing. More specifically, what challenges and triumphs are present for Black entertainers and consumers.
DJ Drew Atlas spoke with me during Black History Month about his early years. Together, we chatted about passion, focus, and how radio has changed. We also spoke about his hard work, self-promotion, and networking while mixing quality music inspired by his Caribbean soul.
Race and Representation in Music
Throughout the years, Drew has also come to a few conclusions about the ‘urban’ music industry. He digs deep into stereotypes, lyrics, and representation. Revealing the way he changed his sound in hopes of changing the negative narratives circulating the Black community. His efforts to improve the lives of our community extend years. However, we couldn’t ignore the changes brought on by recent BLM traction. Without surprise, Google Analytics revealed that Black artist searches increased by 40% in 2020. These searches are growing as a steady trend in search engines. Hopefully, those numbers keep rising as more Black creatives “find their lane,” as Drew would say.
Finally, we know it can be tough to figure out where to start when entering the wide world of entertainment. So, we asked Drew what led to some of his best moments and whose advice helped him get there.
Check out our conversation with DJ Drew Atlas, a true OG in Albertan, and Canadian, urban entertainment.