The ATL is home to many types of artist. Some are concerned mainly with the finer things in life, such as cocaine, women and money. Some try to break the stereotype that all ATLiens are trap rapping, violence glorifying dropouts, by speaking on deeper subjects. Then there are artists that are pigeonholed into the former category based on radio singles and the company they keep.
Atlanta rapper Young Dro is a member/associate/??? of T.I.’s group, The Pimp $quad Click. Featured on a few T.I. songs, and securing a few T.I. features himself, Dro became well known for the hit Shoulder Lean, in which he talks about…. shoulder leaning? Either way, Dro was bunched in with the crop of rappers from ATL that are all about shaking that Laffy Taffy and his album came and went without much fanfare.
The thing that makes Mr. Dro worthy of a review at all, is the fact that I feel he was sadly glossed over, labeled and discarded. Casual hip hop fans saw him as a one hit wonder, while underground heads simply didn’t see him. Dro’s topics are standard southern rap cliches, but the way he delivers this content is what makes his album worth a listen or two.
Dro enlists Jazzy Pha, Lil C, Khao, Nitti and more to provide the music on the album, while features come from T.I., Xtaci and the Slim Thugga himself. The beats on the album add to Dro’s deep voice and southern drawl, and Dro flows well over most of the beats. Lyrically, Dro is great in small doses. Dro will drop lines like “Rock Cartier, I’m a Chief like an Indian. Freaks are Caribbean, my feet are amphibian.” that are clever and funny, but he will also throw out lines like “I’m a tough nigga, you a fuck nigga” and “Ask the niggas over there, if I’m the shit there”. Dro’s wordplay, if it had been put to better use, could have made this album great. He has the talent to craft funny lines with multisyllabic rhymes, but chooses not to for most of the album.
The beats on the album are mostly good, with a few that could have been left on the cutting room floor. Rubberband Banks has a staccato horn line with Dro spitting some of his best rhymes, while Shoulder Lean will rattle the trunk of any ‘Lac this album is being played in. Hear Me Cry has a nice use of sampling while Dro talks more seriously about death and losing friends, while We Lied is a medium paced track about dealing with relationships and cheating. High Five on the other hand is reminiscent of Dem Franchize Boyz with an annoying bounce feel. Jazzy Pha also delivers some lesser versions of the great beats we know he can make. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t Let’s Get Away quality either.
Dro was most likely pressured by his label to get something out after striking gold with Shoulder Lean, and was rushed to make a southern radio album, and was probably put on the back burner being T.I.’s lackey, when he should have been touted as a more lyrical version of the ATL carbon copies populating the charts at the time. All in all, Best Thang Smokin is good, not great. Hopefully someday, Dro can remove himself from T.I.’s shadow and take time to craft the album he knows he can make, instead of trying to make the radio hits the label required.