Seven years have passed between Young Dro’s 2006 debut, Best Thang Smokin’, and his sophomore record, High Times, but what’s changed for the Atlanta rapper since then? If you take a second to think about it, the answer is not much, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’ve been a fan of Dro’s prior efforts, notably his last mixtape Day Two, chances are you will enjoy his latest full-length, even though you may not be able to tell the difference between the two projects. As is the case with High Times, and much of Dro’s 12 mixtape, two album catalog, there’s something to be said about the satisfaction that comes from knowing what you’re in for and getting what you expected.
Save for the rare moments, like his curiously enjoyable gospel experimentation on Day Two’s “Walk,” a typical Young Dro song yields 3-4 minutes of an eccentric brand of crude, charismatic garishness, which may span subjects ranging from the protagonist’s mob ties with “Sal” from “Italy” to detailed descriptions of his wardrobe. If you’ve been keeping track all these years, Dro’s closet probably looks like something of a cross between that of Mr. Rogers’ and Don Magic Juan’s. Or, as Dro puts it himself on his lead single, “FDB,” he’s rocking “Trinidad James-clothes.”
“Odds,” the album’s introduction is perhaps the finest display of Dro’s curious brilliance when it comes to rattling off-and combining-visual metaphors. Within the first 45 seconds or so of his opening verse, we get couplets about stockbroking, helicopter pads, “brass Lacs,” derrieres, halfbacks, and Joe’s Crab Shack, just to point to a few. Over the dramatic piano-tinged backing, “Odds” is a perfect opening score to the soundtrack of Dro’s world—or more appropriately, the album. In a recent conversation with XXL, Dro described his approach to the record as follows: “We don’t do what everybody do. We do it different. So we looking at the game like stockbrokers, watching that Nasdaq sheet, pumping that cash money.” Interpret that how you may, but I think the point is that Dro not only knows he’s a bit of an oddball, but colors his music with the intention of conveying that.
The tape leaves you with a number of enjoyable moments, like the previously mentioned “Odds,” and “FDB,” as well as the buddy-buddy Doe-B featuring record “Homeboyz” and a stone cold, guitar-driven track by the name of “Hammer Time.” Hip-hop fans are lucky to have a wide swath of artists experimenting with new sounds, evolving into grown ups, and collaborating with producers and artists of other genres, but we’re equally blessed to have folks like Young Dro. That is, the same Dro you grew to enjoy when you first met him when he first introduced us to shoulder leanin’ and “pimpin’ in linen and salamander sandals.” –@WavyDaveWilliam