Words by Mr. Mecc
It’s been a wild ride for the Georgia born MC known as Young Dro. A ride filled with peaks, valleys and very little in between. After releasing a slew of mixtapes, he dropped his indie album I Got That Dro in 2001. After bouncing back and forth between the streets and the studio the man born D’Juan Montrel Hart turned his Atlanta trap tales into a deal with his patna named Clifford “Tip” Harris. With the support of Grand Hustle he dropped his follow-up Best Thang Smokin in 2006 which had the hit, “Shoulder Lean.”
But with all this high riding, Dro wouldn’t see High Times, his second major label album for another seven years. And even though the lead single “FDB” in 2013 would be the biggest of his career, the Internet would stay buzzing about issues on everything from alleged repos of his whip to baby mama and relationship drama.
And yet, two years later, one of the most colorful characters in Hip-Hop sits in the E1 offices ready to go at it again. Rocking a pair of fresh white jeans, kicks and a black & white sweatshirt, Young Dro is fresh dressed and steady on his grind, doing press for his new album Da Reality Show. But while the clothes are just as bright as ever, his mood is uncharacteristically dark. The album is the same level of quality his fans are used to but even the first single “Ugh” has a violent streak that doesn’t seem like him.
Are we witnessing a transition in the lighthearted artist we’ve all come to know and love? Have the years of drama and turmoil managed to wipe the seemingly ever-present grin from his face? Only Dro knows. And after this exclusive interview with WatchLOUD, you will too.
WatchLOUD: So Dro, how’s it going bro?
Young Dro: It’s going. (Laughs) Nah, I cant complain. I can’t ask for nothing more. It’s just like playing football man, I’m back in the game. I know I’m gonna score a touchdown. But most of all it feels good to work. But I like working how I work. And that’s just, whenever I do drop or whenever I make music, it’s for the satisfaction of me first.
So do you make it a point not to chase the trends that are out?
I don’t chase trends. I admire them. But it won’t take me by storm. Some of these trends are just a façade you know? I like originality
That’s interesting because in a lot of areas, you’re considered a trendsetter…
But that stuff I didn’t do, you feel me? When they was rocking different clothes, I stayed with one thing. It was just Ralph. Feel me? Them niggas was spending booku money. I was too but I ain’t care if they wore that. Everybody be dressed the same way. I just started wearing different stuff this year.
Was that intentional or did that just happen?
It was intentional, because back then I was a bigger dude. Some of my shirts are like 2x now. But that’s how many clothes I got, you feel me? It looks like I’m finna put this shit on and it’s actually like 8 /9 years old. I don’t have any intentions of [being] a trendsetter. I’m just keeping it for myself. (Laughs) It sounds selfish, but you have to do it and love it yourself before you can share it. I don’t think you should share bad ideas.
So you make it a point not to share any bad ideas.
If you not gonna share anything good, then you shouldn’t share the bad. What you gonna do? Come here passing out guns with murders on them? “Hey here’s a gun, somebody just got killed with that Thursday, you’re gonna be fine. (Laughs) You should come in with a book, or knowledge or something to eat.
Is it rough for you to play that role being the kind of guy you are? You’re no stranger to the streets, you’ve had your brushes with the law. When you want to talk knowledge to people, is there a way for you to get it across and have it taken seriously?
I’m not gonna come to you in a serious way. I’m not going to approach you like that. Laughter is fun. And just because I’m laughing doesn’t mean that I’m ignorant. Like my dad always said “Keep on laughing girl… I’m gonna laugh you right out your draws.” That’s what he told the girls. I don’t get serious because when I do get serious that’s going to be something that I do myself and when I mention it, you can take it however you want, because I have a destiny. And so many people are not in it.
We’ve seen you get serious before though… every time you mention your daughter, you’re serious as a heart attack.
I say that because, a broken family it really has an effect. Something missing in the puzzle? It don’t look right. You know what I mean? And I’m a part of that. I hate it. My baby mama didn’t make it no better. And I didn’t either. (Laughs)
Accepting responsibility… that’s big.
I mean but, don’t nobody love each other, cause we don’t trust each other. That’s just one of them difficult things that we ask of people.
And after it’s all said and done, when you need to vent, you’ve still got music.
Because like, once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget it. Whatever God gave you. I think you keep it. You want to be a musician till you’re one thousand years old? Do it, believe it, earn it, stand up to it. I can do whatever I want to and I can achieve whatever goal I want to achieve, feel me? I can stop when I want to, I can start when I want to. This is my life. And if I ain’t crying, I know you shouldn’t be.
That’s a great philosophy in a genre that has so much ageism in it. People get close to 40 and they get shuffled out the door…
They’re running with time. I used to hide time. Because I didn’t want to be old as I was. I was 12 with a bag. When I had that bag? I had to be 21, you feel me? I was deprived of watching cartoons and that shit showed out of my face. I was very reserved. That shit sat me down as a kid and I was totally bad. But my mama didn’t raise me like that. Even though we was from the projects and knew exactly what to do, what to pour, what to mix, my mama had raised us to be stand-up guys. So when I chose what I chose, I got shot. Because I knew, we was in the projects, we was not better than anybody else out there. But my mama said we’re gonna have a different way of growing up. They can stay out but when the street come on, I’m gonna whistle for y’all, y’all come in. Statistics will show guaranteed that the ones who came out after the streetlights? 80% of them are dead. And it was just like that. And they couldn’t read… I thought that shit [was] played out, you feel me? And I cut class everyday. But knowledge is something that came to me. I’d get up and pray to go to class. Cause first is was we ain’t got no food. So we go to school, get something to eat. Ok Lord, now bless us with some clothes, please Lord Jesus…. Ok, now He blessed us with that. Then I walked them halls and I couldn’t sit down in class, I had to show my outfit off, you feel me? And I was smart enough to pray about it at that age. My grandmother said, everything ain’t for everybody. So I chose the street. I took up a drug habit. But with that drug habit, I read the whole Bible. (Laughs) So I actually let the Biblical instruction teach me what I needed to know before leaving earth .
What do you think is the most important lesson you learned out of that?
In yourself or a higher power? Cause you have a lot of faith in yourself.
I have that built up in myself because I was already kind of tormented. You know, my skin tone, I was born in 1980. Tar baby… it was all that added up. It made me tougher than ever, but I knew how to do different things as a defense mechanism. “Oh you about to come in here and joke me? I’m already joking myself.” I’ll take this pain home with me.
When do you let it out?
I let it out. Like I’ll go in the closet and pray and cry bad… I’ll holla out real [loud]. One time somebody came and was like “You good?’ I was really hollering like somebody was getting murdered because I was upset with myself. Cause the devil been trying to kill me since I was a kid. And I didn’t like the things I was going through. And this is a on-going process. I think crying rinses your soul or whatever. When it rains out, you know, grass grow.
Well, you’re growing now, things are popping, right?
I guess I’m in favor. I can tell you that He’s training me to understand that I do a lot of right things. And the things I do, do wrong? They are very serious because they’re premeditated and they’re stupid.
REALLY? How dumb can it be if you’re planning it out tho?
Because it’s to your demise.
Gotcha. Does will power keep you out of it?
Faith. I walk on faith. I count things like I’m the Westside Job. I told them on the album, I was wondering if he gave me riches to take them away from me so I can fly straight, you know?
Well, you’re flying straight now. Still rocking with Tip…
Loyalty is something that I have. If I’m family, I’m family. How we came in… blood in, blood out. And I’m a man like that, feel me? I got a good relationship with Tip. Only person that don’t like me is a girl. And she’ll come around because the time that I’m with her, I don’t disrespect her. I might do what I do but I’m the best all-around boy. I got that trophy at the age of 4.
From a personal standpoint, I’ll say it’s good to see you still strong with the squad after all this time.
I wish you could see the independence that he taught me. He sees me…. Because there’s a lot of people that need him the way I needed him, you feel me. When he taught it to me, I just wanted to do shows and be around him. We made money for ten years but now it’s without the coaching. And that was my best friend. Still is. And it’s gotten stronger now because once you’re apart form somebody you depend on, you start thinking about random things. But when someone is away? Once you give them their space? If that person was genuine, they’re coming back. And you gotta trust. I trust him, I love him and that’s my brother. I can tell you that if anything happens in the music business or away from it, same thing. Till death do us part. I’m married to the mafia.
I’ve never heard him speak a bad word about you either.
And you won’t. but you gotta expect that. Who’d you hear Jesus speak bad about? This shit can happen, we’re capable of being successful, prosperous and loyal. I don’t have a hateful bone in my body. I dislike a lot of things but I can’t tell you what it’s like to hate. If you hate somebody, you’ll kill em.
And you don’t have that….
I don’t have to kill and I don’t want to hurt nobody. But I swear to God, it looks like I know how to do some of the things like that. And I thank God for one of the stupidest things ever. For preparing me in the midst… It’s like he said “I’m gonna prepare you to get from outta here. But before you get out, you’re gonna have to do exactly what you’re supposed to do. Don’t worry about what’s gonna happen.” You feel me? Cause I’ve done things that I’m waiting to get punished for. And I’m not about to sit up here and tell you “God told me to…” I’ve never brought harm to anybody and I never will. Worst thing I ever did was pass the cigarette.
And body somebody on a track…
That’s a human condition. (Laughs)