For their new venture, The Aphilliates hand-selected DJs in key urban markets, representing a wide range of genres, musical influences, and level of experience in the game. The roster includes former Jersey Shore star DJ Pauly D; producer and multimedia personality DJ Green Lantern, who’s worked as both Nas & Jay-Z’s tour DJ; Nicki Minaj’s tour DJ and Philadelphia radio personality DJ Diamond Kuts; Justin Bieber’s tour DJ Tay James; producer DJ Mustard, responsible for current chart toppers by 2 Chainz, Young Jeezy and Tyga; and Philadelphia on-air personality DJ Damage, who holds the distinction of being the youngest on-air mixer in the nation.

But The Academy is more than just a DJ collective, with songwriters, producers, photographers and artists from various genres also being offered exclusive membership.

“We want to build something that can help the next generation,” adds Don Cannon. “That’s our contribution back to what the culture gave us and what we got out of it. We felt now was the perfect time to let the legacy live on with newer DJs. Our contribution and our position is real important right now; we have a lot of things going on. We want to start teaching people the importance of brand equity.”

During the press conference, Drama spoke on the selection process that lead to the inaugural list of members, which also includes several newer, less established DJs.

“We’ve always had people step to us wanting to get involved with The Aphilliates,” he said. “There were times where, based on where we were in our collective careers, it wasn’t the right time. So when the idea for The Academy came about, a lot of people were ready. So our team sat down, because there’s other people involved [including] seasoned manager Leighton Morrisson, [Atlanta promoter] Patrick Afeku, and Summer Walker; we just came together and brainstormed about the different DJs who we thought were doing their thing in their markets and had potential in them and what they’ve got coming up.”

More than just a DJ collective, however, Sense, Drama and Cannon are looking forward to growing a new business model that will teach the members how to capitalize on their potential as marketers and influencers, as well as provide them with the tools to take full advantage of their value as individual and collective brands. The Academy will also offer a development service for artists, producers and songwriters.

To celebrate their new crew, DJ Drama, DJ Sense and Don Cannon will hold a two-day “Academy Inaugural Takeover” in Atlanta next week. The celebration will include a community service event in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club at King Middle School in Atlanta, where the three Aphilliates co-founders and The Academy will speak to students about entrepreneurship and business. They will also rewarding 25 outstanding Atlanta Public School students with the Young Men of Influence Award, a sign of their commitment to both social responsibility and the community that helped birth their careers.

“DJs have always been the most influential figures in music, period,” explains DJ Sense. “We saw firsthand the influence we had with the artists we believed in and supported. With that much power comes a lot of responsibility. We want to encourage young people to use their influence to have a positive impact on their communities.”

In addition, The Academy has also partnered with Atlantic Records, ASCAP and 2 Chainz’ management company Street Execs to present a series of industry events including the official album release party for B.O.A.T.S. II and an showcase featuring performances by Yo Gotti, The Migos and August Alsina.

This new venture is a reunion of sorts for The Aphilliates almost seven years following the infamous police raid that brought their mixtape and marketing empire to a halt in 2007. The raid resulted in DJ Drama and Don Cannon’s arrest and the seizure of company funds and assets including more than 50,000 mixtapes. Despite what seemed like a career-ending situation, the three original founders of the collective have gone on to find great success independently, with Drama remaining a prominent personality and recording artist; DJ Sense working as a radio executive and marketing brand manager in Atlanta, and Don Cannon pushing forward with a production and marketing career that most recently resulted in him being appointed the new President of A&R at Def Jam Records.

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