T.I.’s true test has finally arrived. Sure he’s sold countless copies of his last few albums, reach crossover appeal, and come on top in a highly publicized beef, but if T.I. is able to make superstars out of his crew then his place in hip-hop history will be assured. T.I.’s already on shaky ground with the underwhelming P.S.C. album, but with Young Dro T.I. gets a chance to try to achieve what few hip-hop stars have. Given the circumstances, Young Dro seems destined for at least platinum success. Recently another “Yung” southern rapper sold decently with a catchy single similar to Dro’s current hit, “Shoulder Lean.” The question remains whether Young Dro can hold his own without T.I. on a track and bring something new to the game. Hosted by resident Grand Hustle DJ, Drama, “Day One” is Young Dro’s first chance to make an impression and show us what it means to be the “best thing smokin’.”
Being a mixtape, expectations are already low for “Day One” since we know Dro has to save something for the actual album. With seasoned vets like Busta Rhymes, the mixtape concept isn’t all too bad since even with the rapper holding back you’re still being given some pretty decent material. A guy like Young Dro though does not produce very well when he’s not in full motion. Throughout the mixtape, Dro does nothing to show he’s worthy of any more attention than anyone else dropping this summer. His flow is nothing special, sounding like a softer version of Young Buck’s. His lyrics rarely rise above the average. The most entertaining part is that halfway through the mixtape Dro takes a break from rap and goes on a rant about how he’s not like all these other rappers and how he raps about different shit. He gives as an example the fact that he watches Saturday morning cartoons with his son. Had he stopped there I might have commended him for expressing his love for his family, but while he’s trying to make the point that he’s not like all these other “thugs” in the rap game he makes sure to reiterate the point that he was doing what everybody is else is doing BEFORE them. I guess in today’s rap game being a thug is no longer impressive, but having been a thug for a longer period of time is.
Now Young Dro isn’t to blame for the rap game’s current stagnant phase and obsession with violence, but being that he’s trying to be successful he’s going with what’s working right now. The problem is he doesn’t have anywhere near the charisma and energy of his mentor, T.I.. T.I. too is guilty of indulging in ignorance in his raps, but he delivers them with such style that it can be forgiven. Young Dro does have his moments, such as on the catchy single “Shoulder Lean” where he and T.I. craft a dance track to compete with the current trend of snapping, though the beat and the hook probably have more to do with the success of the song than Dro himself. Dro also does a decent job filling up space on “Tell Them What They Wanna Hear,” an R&B single by Rashad, though once again the song’s beat has a lot to do with the track’s appeal. The sad thing is that these two tracks are bonus tracks, yet they stand out more than the main offering. The 21 tracks included on the actual mixtape don’t do much, unless you want to hear unoriginal gangsta tracks or uninspired remakes of tracks. “Gangsta Shit” and “Trap or Kill Ya Self” are both remakes of well known tracks, but the only entertaining part is Pharrell trying to be gangsta on “Trap or Kill Ya Self.”
T.I. has struck out again in trying to score a hit album for someone other than himself. It’s not entirely his fault as you can’t expect him to feature on every track from his camp. But it is disappointing that even with one of the game’s hottest DJs and one of the best up and coming producers in Don Cannon, Young Dro couldn’t come up with something a little more memorable. If you want average lyrics, played out concepts, and so-so beats then Young Dro is your man. He might surprise with an amazing album, but for now the chances look slim.