Young DRO Mixtapes: The Atlanta Rapper’s Early Work That Paved The Way To Stardom
Young DRO is an American rapper from Atlanta, Georgia who has been making waves in the hip hop world over the last few years. However, before he broke onto the mainstream scene with hits like “We Winnin” and “Hell Shell”, Young DRO spent years developing his sound and honing his craft through mixtapes.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into Young DRO’s early mixtapes, analyzing his evolution as an artist and how these projects set the stage for his success today.
Table of Contents
– Early Life and Career Beginnings
– Peculiar DRO Lopez (2009)
– Mr. Tony With Da Money (2010)
– Free Young DRO (2011)
– I Am DRO (2012)
– DRO Got That Sack (2013)
– Evolution as an Artist
– Influence on Mainstream Success
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Young DRO was born D’Juan Hart in Bankhead, Atlanta in 1986. He grew up in a neighborhood plagued by crime and drugs, but found solace in music from a young age. Dro was inspired by Southern rap legends like T.I., Jeezy, and Gucci Mane and started writing his own raps as a teenager.
Dro’s professional music career began in 2008 when he met up-and-coming Atlanta producer Zaytoven. The two recorded Dro’s first official song “On Mine” and it quickly became popular in Atlanta’s streets. This local buzz gave Dro the confidence to keep pursuing his rap dreams.
Peculiar DRO Lopez (2009)
In 2009, Young DRO released his first mixtape Peculiar DRO Lopez in collaboration with DJ Swagg Rico. The 19-song project featured early trap beats from Zaytoven along with Dro’s charismatic flow and clever wordplay.
Tracks like “Weather Man” and “2 Seater” showed Dro’s ability to craft catchy hooks and choruses. Meanwhile, songs like “Don’t Want No Problems” and “Gah Damn” displayed his raw talent as a lyricist. While the production and mixing were rough around the edges, Peculiar DRO Lopez marked an impressive debut for the young rapper.
Mr. Tony With Da Money (2010)
The following year, Young DRO linked up with established mixtape DJ and producer DJ Scream for his follow up project Mr. Tony With Da Money. The sound was cleaner and more cohesive, with Zaytoven handling most of the production.
Standout tracks included “I’m Da Sh*t” where Dro brags about his skills on the mic and “Tony Montana” featuring Travis Porter which became a local hit. Dro’s flow sounded more nimble and confident, while his lyrics focused on classic hip hop topics like money, cars, and jewelry.
While still underground, Mr. Tony With Da Money showed Young DRO’s growth and helped expand his fanbase in the Atlanta scene.
Free Young DRO (2011)
In 2011, Young DRO released his third mixtape Free Young DRO with DJ Burn One. For this project, Dro continued developing his signature Atlanta trap sound but also branched out working with producers likefreeze-dried, Cassius Jay, and Mayles.
The mixtape had a looser, more experimental vibe. On tracks like “Beast Mode” and “Ball So Hard” Dro layered complex rhyme schemes over bass-heavy beats. Meanwhile, songs like “Free Me” and “Standing Ovation” featured introspective lyrics about overcoming adversity.
Perhaps the biggest highlight was “We Outchea” which featured a guest verse from Dro’s childhood idol Gucci Mane. Their chemistry on the track showed Dro could hold his own with the best in the business.
By 2012, Young DRO had gained a reputation as one of the most promising up-and-coming rappers in Atlanta. For his next mixtape, I Am DRO, he wanted to prove he could craft a cohesive, album-like project.
The mixtape had a more polished radio-friendly sound, leading some critics to call it Dro’s poppiest work yet. But songs like “Xtra”, “Real Life”, and “All I Know” still featured hard-hitting lyrics and flows. The beats from Tabu Sounds, DJ Spinz, and others blended elements of trap, electronic, and R&B.
I Am DRO ended up being Young Dro’s breakthrough mixtape, earning him critical acclaim and sets at major hip hop festivals that year. The project showed his ability to craft Billboard-worthy hits while still keeping his authentic edge.
DRO Got That Sack (2013)
Riding high off the success of I Am DRO, Young DRO kept his momentum going with his 2013 mixtape DRO Got That Sack. The project featured Dro’s most straight-forward trap sound yet, with bass-rattling beats tailor-made for clubs and trunks.
Tracks like “Strong”, “FDB”, and “You Good” embraced Southern trap music’s origins as party anthems and strip club anthems. But the mixtape also showed Dro’s introspective side with songs like “Momma” paying tribute to his supportive mother.
DRO Got That Sack contributed to the rise of trap music’s mainstream popularity in the early 2010s. For Young DRO, it showed his ability to get even closer to crispy, radio-friendly trap perfection.
Evolution as an Artist
Looking back, it’s clear Young DRO showed immense growth throughout these early mixtapes. When he first started, his lyrics and flows, while promising, were still unpolished. But with each new project, he refined his craft and carved out his unique style.
Dro evolved from just another street rapper into an artist who could craft catchy pop hits without losing credibility. His songwriting got sharper, his flows got tighter, and his sound got cleaner and more professional.
But throughout the evolution, Young DRO stayed true to his authentic Atlanta roots and never compromised his lyrics or swagger. Each mixtape built upon the last, bringing him one step closer to stardom.
Influence on Mainstream Success
The groundwork Young DRO laid through these early mixtapes paved the way for his eventual mainstream success. He built a solid fanbase within Atlanta that allowed him to organically grow his reach.
By the time he released his debut studio album, D.R.O. in 2016, Dro had mastered his craft and signature style. Hits like “We Winnin” and “Hell Shell” simply applied his established formula onto a bigger, major label scale.
Without the artistic trial and error of his early mixtapes, Young DRO may have never developed into the polished hitmaker he is today. The vibrant trap energy of his early work is still present in his music and remains a key part of his appeal.
While Lesser Known than projects like D.R.O., Young DRO’s early mixtapes contain the building blocks of his signature sound. For dedicated fans, revisiting these projects offers great insight into the artistic journey of one of Atlanta’s hottest rappers.
Young DRO’s rise from Atlanta’s streets to mainstream success was no accident. His early mixtapes show an artist perfecting his craft one song at a time.
From Peculiar DRO Lopez to DRO Got That Sack, Dro evolved from a rough prospect into a radio-ready hit machine. But through it all, he never lost his authentic regional flair that earned him a loyal fanbase.
For aspiring Atlanta rappers, Young DRO’s come up provides the blueprint. His mixtapes demonstrate the importance of persistence, evolution, and staying true to your roots. Over a decade later, these projects still bang and help explain just why Young DRO is so “peculiar”.