Young Dro is an American hip hop recording artist from Bankhead, Atlanta, Georgia. He is best known for his 2006 hit single “Shoulder Lean” and for being the first artist signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records.
Dro’s affiliation with Grand Hustle has been a bit ambiguous over the years. He has not released a solo project since 2009’s “High Times” and has made comments suggesting he is no longer signed to the label. However, he continues to collaborate with T.I. and Grand Hustle artists.
This article will take a deep dive into Young Dro’s current relationship with Grand Hustle Records and T.I. Here is a preview of what will be covered:
– A biography of Young Dro and his early success with Grand Hustle
– Details on his first two albums under Grand Hustle
– His unclear status and inactivity from 2009 to 2013
– His return and recent collaborations with T.I.
– Statements from Dro and T.I. on their relationship
– Analysis of whether Dro is still signed to Grand Hustle
– Dro’s current activities and outlook
Let’s take a closer look at Young Dro’s history and affiliation with one of hip hop’s most successful indie labels.
Young Dro’s Early Success with Grand Hustle
Born D’juan Hart, Young Dro hails from the Bankhead neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia – an area known for producing hip hop artists like T.I., Shawty Lo and Pastor Troy.
Dro got his start battle rapping and freestyling on the streets of Atlanta in the early 2000s. His talent eventually caught the ear of T.I., who had just founded Grand Hustle Records in 2003.
Signing to Grand Hustle
T.I. officially signed Young Dro to Grand Hustle in 2004, making him the label’s first artist. Dro appeared on several of T.I.’s mixtapes leading up to his debut album.
Release of Best Thang Smokin’
In August 2006, Young Dro released his Grand Hustle debut album “Best Thang Smokin”. Propelled by the hit single “Shoulder Lean”, the album peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart. It ultimately sold over 500,000 copies and was certified gold.
“Shoulder Lean” also hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and helped establish Dro’s unique style of conversational southern rap. The album’s success proved that independent label Grand Hustle could compete in the mainstream hip hop industry.
Dro’s Follow Up Work and Unclear Status
Riding high off the success of his debut, Young Dro worked on material for a follow up album.
Release of High Times
His second Grand Hustle album “High Times” was released in October 2009. While it did not match the commercial success of his first album, it did reach #15 on the Billboard 200.
Hiatus Period from 2009 to 2013
After the lukewarm reception of “High Times”, Young Dro seemed to disappear from the rap game. From 2009 to 2013, he did not release any solo material or make many public appearances.
During this period, his status with Grand Hustle became very unclear. Dro was unusually inactive for a label artist and gave no indications on social media about his affiliation with the label.
Some hip hop blogs began to report rumors that Dro had been dropped from Grand Hustle due to lackluster sales of his second album. However, no formal announcement was ever made.
Return in 2013
After a four year hiatus, Young Dro resurfaced with appearances on tracks with B.o.B. and Spodee in 2013. This signaled the rapper’s return, though his standing with Grand Hustle was still ambiguous.
Recent Collaboration and Comments on Status
Even after his return to activity in 2013, Young Dro did not release any solo projects. However, he has been steadily collaborating with T.I. and artists on Grand Hustle.
Collaborations with T.I.
Since 2013, Young Dro has made numerous guest appearances on mixtapes and albums released by T.I.
– T.I.’s 2012 album “Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head”
– Hustle Gang’s 2013 compilation album “G.D.O.D.”
– T.I. and Young Thug’s 2014 collab “About the Money”
– T.I.’s 2016 album “Us or Else”
– 2 Chainz 2017 album “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music”
– T.I.’s 2020 album “The L.I.B.R.A.”
So while Dro has not put out any solo work in years, he has been featured on many T.I. and Grand Hustle projects. This has led to more speculation on where exactly he stands with the label.
In interviews over the years, Young Dro has sent mixed signals about his status with Grand Hustle.
In 2013, he stated:
> “I’ve never not been signed to Grand Hustle. I’ve never not been a part of Grand Hustle”
However in a 2016 interview with VladTV, Dro was asked point blank if he was still signed to Grand Hustle, to which he responded:
> “Nah, I ain’t signed no where bruh.”
He clarified that he was still affiliated with T.I. but did not have an active contract with Grand Hustle Records. Dro explained that he had the freedom to work on his own music or collaborate when asked.
So while his comments seem to flip flop, the overarching theme is that he maintains ties to T.I. but does not have a traditional label deal.
For his part, T.I. has also made statements over the years indicating Dro is still in the Grand Hustle crew:
> “Young Dro is a Grand Hustle artist. He’s still signed to Grand Hustle.”
> “Young Dro is permanently Grand Hustle royalty”
And as recently as 2020 on an IG live session:
> “Young Dro is Grand Hustle for life”
So despite Dro claiming he is not actively signed, T.I. continues to pay respect to him as a member of the team.
Analysis: Is Young Dro Still Signed to Grand Hustle?
Taking a holistic view of Young Dro’s career path and comments from both parties, the logical conclusion seems to be:
– While likely not retaining an active recording contract, Young Dro maintains a strong affiliation and connection to Grand Hustle Records.
Key points supporting this:
– Dro has not released any solo music via Grand Hustle since 2009
– He has indicated he is not currently signed to Grand Hustle
– However, T.I. has referred to him as a member of the team as recently as 2020
– Dro collaborates often with T.I. and Grand Hustle artists
– His page is featured on the Grand Hustle official site
So while the days of Dro releasing his own album via the label appear to have passed, he is still considered part of the crew by T.I. Their bond seems more informal and project based at this stage.
Young Dro’s Current Activities and Outlook
Though his affiliation with Grand Hustle seems loosely defined, Young Dro does appear reengaged in music. Some of his recent activities include:
– Featured on multiple tracks off T.I.’s 2020 album
– Released several non-album singles like 2021’s “S— Work”
– Performed live shows again after years away from the stage
– Made guest appearance on reality show T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle
– Posted new music clips on Instagram hinting at plans for future releases
In 2022 interviews, Dro indicated he is at work on a new project called “Re Up” which will be his first album in 13 years. Whether it will be released via Grand Hustle or independently remains to be seen.
The rapper is now 40 years old but seems to be making efforts to make his comeback and record the music he wasn’t able to during his inactive period.
To summarize – while his recording contract status appears defunct, Young Dro is still affiliated with Grand Hustle Records given his long history and bond with founder T.I.
He went through an extended period without solo releases but now seems poised to make a comeback. Wherever he releases new music, expect it to feature production and collaborations from his inner Atlanta hip hop circle.
Dro spent almost a decade silent which led many to wonder if he was done with music for good. But his recent activity suggests that may not be the case. There are still many chapters left to write in the unconventional career of this southern rap cult favorite.
Hopefully this article provided hip hop fans with clarity on where Young Dro currently stands. Does he have another hit like “Shoulder Lean” left up his sleeve? Only time will tell.