Young Dro: Killer Instinct

A true-chain smoker will light one cigarette off of another, it prevents from having to use matches or a lighter. Perhaps that’s what Atlantic/Grand Hustle Records considered when they piggybacked Young Dro’s Best Thang Smokin’ off of TI’s highly successful album, King.

After three years of making powerful appearances on albums from T.I., P$C, and DJ Drama mixtapes, Dro hopes to show the world what Atlanta locals have known for some time. The 27 year old is not concerned with a perceived late entry to the game, but rather, he’s using the scar tissue from his former street life to provide wisdom where most youngsters can’t. From his days as a Kriss-Kross fan to his presence in the company of killers, Young Dro appears to represent all sides of Atlanta. Lean your shoulders as Grand Hustle’s newest star talks about the streets of Bankhead, competition, and his unique sense of humor.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think that the appearances on TI’s King helped promote this album for you? People are already throwing around “Album of the Year” claims…

Young Dro: My appearances on his album? Naw…not really. I think it helps, but I ain’t puttin’ it all on that.

AllHipHop.com: Certainly, you’ve got one of the hotter singles out with “Shoulder Lean.” I just didn’t know if going into all that, you felt you had some added push…

Young Dro: Yeah, it did. I would say so…very much so. It did play a part of my role in the game today. I would say so.

AllHipHop.com: Last year was all about College Park. Already, 2006 seems to be Bankhead’s year, within Atlanta. For those that don’t know, I wanted to educate some of our readers who may not know about what distinguishes Bankhead from the rest of the sections…

Young Dro: Bankhead is where I’m born from, and there’s a lot of real cats that came from there like Kilos and the Hard Boys back in the day. It’s the roughest side of Atlanta, as far as the streets go. There’s more projects over there. We got more rats and roaches and all that good s**t over there. Where I’m from, when I first opened my eyes as a baby, all I saw was Bankhead.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think that street element has created its unique quality in the music from Bankhead?

Young Dro: I think all parts of Atlanta do. That’s just where I was born, [but not] where I spent all my time. I’m came from the southwest [part of the city] where Goodie Mob and them are from. I’m a southwest cat. I spent parts of my life on every side that really just had the realest stars in it – Collipark [College Park] and all that. That’s where a lot of my friends are from. It ain’t really just ‘bout “Bankhead this, Bankhead that.” Atlanta is bigger than Bankhead.

AllHipHop.com: So many artists today on the verge of their debut are 21, 22 years old. You’re 27. Do you feel any additional pressure to hit the ground running, or do you think that you might have more wisdom than most?

Young Dro: I know I can bring to the record what other cats can’t. Age really ain’t make no difference. There’s a lot of artists out there that’s successful with age, you know?

AllHipHop.com: We all know you’ve been in the streets for a minute, but how long have you been rapping?

Young Dro: Professionally, since ‘bout 2000.

AllHipHop.com: Warner Brothers has Bohagon. Bad Boy had Yung Joc. Atlantic/Grand Hustle has you. It seems like the majors are all competing with each other in the way of new artists from Atlanta. Do you think that competition exists among the artists?

Young Dro: Nah, I don’t think so. Everybody wants to sell records, and everybody gonna say what they got to say, but I don’t think… if they compete, they’ll sell. Nobody sayin’ nothin’ ‘bout competin’. I don’t know how everybody else is lookin’ at it, but I damn sure am not competin’. I’ma sell my records, ‘cause that’s what I want to do. I’m not competing against nobody.

AllHipHop.com: You were shot in the stomach, and could not laugh in the healing process. Do you think that affected your sense of humor at the time or today?

Young Dro: I was able to laugh, but it hurt like a mothaf**ka, and I really just had to stop laughin’. It didn’t affect my sense of humor. It just…I feel funny. That was the [problem]. I was makin’ my damn self laugh. [laughs] That s**t hurt like hell too, ‘cause I stayed sayin’ funny s**t that was funnier than myself. It really just made me try harder to heal up so I could get my laughs in.

AllHipHop.com: Did it affect the way you moved?

Young Dro: Um…yeah, there was a lot of changes…a bunch of changes. Like, my stomach is all tore up right now. It wouldn’t have been like this if they hadn’t shot me. [I have] a ton of stitches and s**t. I used to be ashamed of the s**t, but then I broke out of that s**t, and started wearin’ no shirt.

AllHipHop.com: Do the girls dig scars?

Young Dro: I really didn’t even care.

AllHipHop.com: TI said “Young Dro is comfortable around killers.” What does that quote mean exactly? I know it seems obvious, but elaborate…

Young Dro: I mean, when we were comin’ up, that’s who was around – with the same kinda attitude, the same sense of humor, the same dreams. You could take me to the exec’s office, and I can sit in, and I’m comfortable around killers too.

AllHipHop.com: We’ve all been in those intimidating situations. When you’re in that situation, do you just go about it boldly or be your same old self?

Young Dro: If you’re around somebody that you fear, be normal. I wouldn’t suggest that you fear nobody though. I wouldn’t be cool just tellin’ you that you should fear this guy here and this is how you should act around him. Me, I wouldn’t suggest that you fear that guy. I would suggest that you be yourself. Don’t worry about the next man – don’t fear him. Fear God, I guess.

AllHipHop.com: Everybody is wylin’ out to “Shoulder Lean.” When TI came out, he started with fun, club-minded songs. Then he took it to other levels with depth on the album. Is that something we’re gonna see from you too?

Young Dro: Man, [on my album] we talkin’ ‘bout the past really, what we saw. I took ‘em to church. We talk about schoolin’ – all kind of positive things. We talk about the negative too. The album’ll weigh itself out. I talk about past relationships I’ve been in, I share ‘em with the people.

AllHipHop.com: With the time you have between now and September, could you throw one of those deeper issues in as a single?

Young Dro: That, I would be into. Every song I write, I write it as a single. Instead of just making follow-ups, every song can be televised.

AllHipHop.com: What was the first show you ever want to as a rap fan?

Young Dro: My homeboy, Chris Smith [“Daddy Mack” of Kris Kross]. That’s one of my best friends.

AllHipHop.com: Word? What’s he up to these days?

Young Dro: Still chillin’, still right around the corner from me.

AllHipHop.com: What was your first rap performance like?

Young Dro: I performed in town at the Bankhead Bounce. That s**t was fun as a mothaf**ka.

AllHipHop.com: What’s your plan for the day the album drops? Atlanta? New York?

Young Dro: The day the album drops, I wanna be in the mix. I am gonna be doing things to promote the album, but wherever it is, it’ll be a hell of a day.

AllHipHop.com: What do you wanna do to get it just right between now and then?

Young Dro: I got “Day Two” of this Gangsta Grillz mixtape comin’. I’m gonna give ‘em something for radio, if they can catch that. But I’m gonna give ‘em “Day Two” to assure ‘em. I already got the ammo for it.

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