youngdro.jpgComing up as a part of a successful rapper’s crew is not necessarily a guarantee of success. (Just ask the St. Lunatics. Or Flipmode Squad.) Djuan “Young Dro” Hart, though, is making the most of the who-you-know world of hip-hop. Having grown up in Atlanta’s Bankhead section a close friend of adolescent rap star Chris “Daddy Mack” Smith (one-half of the duo Kris Kross), the 28-year-old MC is now riding his affiliation with reigning hip-hop royalty T.I. to the top of the charts.

The first time most people saw Dro was in the “Nothin’-but-a-‘G’-thing”-meets-ATL clip for his breakout single, “Shoulder Lean.” Head to toe in Ralph Lauren, Dro immediately set himself apart from his peers, delivering vivid lines like, “Suicide doors/Brown Rover look like pork ’n’ beans/Everybody know me in the club ’cause they smokin’ me.” His languid flow and colorful wordplay took the South by storm—and the rest of the country was soon to follow. “One day we was on the road with Tip,” he says, “and I think it was like 30,000 people [in the arena]. And, man, everybody was leaning. I don’t think it was no money that I’ve made that could pay for that moment.”

“Shoulder Lean” went on to earn an RIAA platinum certification. Behind that and second single “Rubberband Banks,” Dro’s Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records debut, Best Thang Smokin’, sold 335,000 copies by the end of 2006. And after bodying guest appearances on remixes for Jim Jones’ “We Fly High” and T.I.’s “Top Back,” the protégé has proven himself a fixture in the game.

Keeping the ball rolling, Dro is set to drop his sophomore effort, Young and Restless, in early 2008. While he promises more of the off-the-wall banter his fans expect, Dro says he’s digging deeper on this album, getting personal, discussing real-life situations with girls and some of the problems that come with life in the hip-hop big leagues. At the same time, he’s stepping up his commercial effort. “Every time we record, we trying to do singles,” he says. “I’m picturing videos for everything I’m spitting right now.” T.I. confirms it: “Young and Restless is primed up to be better than Best Thang Smokin’ by far.”

But while the King has spoken, and bestowed his golden touch, Dro wants it known: He’s his own man, with his own plan and his own style. “When I used to write a long time ago,” he says, “I was like, I am not going to write like nobody around where I rap at. It had to stand out. I felt like, let’s start rapping and let these people know we know how to talk.”
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