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More potent than the high-powered hydro phonic herb that carries his namesake, homegrown Atlanta sensation Young Dro will definitely get lifted this summer with the release of his Grand Hustle/Atlantic debut, "BEST THANG SMOKIN'." On this musical autobiography, the 27-year-old rapper narrates his life from poverty to falling prey to dead-end recording deals to obtaining his dreams of becoming an accomplished emcee.
But even though the Southern shot caller has grown accustomed to popping tags, riding big and rocking ice, Young Dro hasn't always been the flashy, fly rapper that he is today.
Born Djuan Hart in the nefarious Bankhead Court housing project, Young Dro grew up the second oldest of his mother's five boys and somewhere amongst the middle seven of his father's 21 children. Although his mother did the best that she could to keep a roof over their heads, Young Dro spent much of his childhood drifting from one housing complex to the next.
"I'm from every project, shawty," he remembers. "We kept getting evicted. Them folks kept putting us out. I done lived in Perry Homes, Herndon Homes, Bowen Homes, Bankhead, Summerhill, Adamsville. You can drop me off in all the spots barefoot, and I'm at home."
It was during these many moves in his teen years that he befriended the now Grand Hustle/Atlantic recording artist T.I. Neither of the two took music seriously at the time. Young Dro didn't even consider a career in music until another one of his friends, Chris "Daddy Mack" Smith, scored platinum success as one half of early 90s duo Kris Kross.
"I always loved hip hop," Young Dro confesses. "I would just stand on the block and everybody telling me `Boy, that was tight.' But after I saw Kris Kross, that's what really made me want to start doing music."
To make his dream a reality, he first hooked up with pioneering southern rapper Raheem the Dream in the late 90s, who at the time had Drama and D4L front man Fabo signed to his local label. By the end of 2002, Young Dro had the city ablaze with his independent hit single "Yes Sir" and regional hit album "I Got That Dro."
Around the same time, T.I. was prepping his debut album "I'M SERIOUS." While the King of the South was promoting the album during a radio interview, Young Dro called the station and asked to talk to the fellow rapper.
"I was like, `That sounds like my homeboy,'" Dro realls. "He was like, `You the one who sings "Yes Sir"? Man, meet me at the Bounce.' We went up there and performed."
That reuniting of two longtime friends evolved into Young Dro signing with Grand Hustle. His major label debut, "BEST THANG SMOKIN'," reveals other sides of Young Dro, like the melodic, feel good vibes of "Sittin' High," the playful sexcapade "My Girl Got A Girl (Feat. T.I.)" and the funk-driven "She Tired Of Me," which showases electric guitar plucks, old school claps and bass lines.
Just puff on the smoking lead single "Shoulder Lean (Feat. T.I.)." Atop a mid-tempo groove and hypnotic piano loop, Young Dro boasts on the rewards for his sacrifice and determination. In a confident swagger, he chants: "Suicide doors, brown Rover look like pork and beans/ Everybody knows me in the club cause they're smoking me."
"It's a lean that playas do," says Young Dro, explaining the song's accompanying two-step. "Since everybody is dancing, I'ma show them that everybody ain't trying to dance. I be a little fresh in the club; I might have on Purple Label or something. I ain't trying to do too much but lean. Plus, it's something that playas can do. I ain't asking you to do too much or get out of character."
"BEST THANG SMOKIN'" also features the pimped-out, Jazze Pha-produced "Fresh," where Young Dro pops his collar over laid-back production, breezy guitar strums and Sunday morning organs. He spits: "Body full of Polo clothes, fresher than a b***h now/ A-1 status make my h**s g