Artist: Young Dro
Representing: Grand Hustle
Mixtape/ DVD: I Am Legend/ "The Swag Shop"
411: When you hang out with a guy named Dark Gable, your swag has to be at 110, so you won't get overshadowed. Not a problem for Grand Hustle's Young Dro. If you haven't noticed by the rainbow gators, matching Polo shirts and equally colorful lyrics, the Atlanta native has his own style.
" 'Swag Shop' is a shop where you can whip in and get you a 50-piece swag with extra swag sauce," Dro joked outside of T.I.'s Grand Hustle studio. In reality, "The Swag Shop" is a documentary-style DVD that Dro is putting together with producer Dark Gable. In the DVD's trailer, we see Dro talk to Tip via computer video hookup, touch the town with wife Fantasia and lay vocals in the lab. There will also be some new songs to accompany the release when it hits the streets.
"I'm not going through [the DVD] saying, 'I got swag, swag, swag,' it's just showing," Dro explained. "I'm showing you my regular self. You're gonna be able to see from the way I dress, the oysters I crack open, all the behind-the-scenes stuff."
In the meantime, Dro has his mixtape I Am Legend getting love down bottom.
"People looking at it like an album," he said of the mixtape, while getting ready to leave in his custom Escalade. "[It has a] lot of original songs. We didn't jack for beats too much. Put out a lot of original stuff. We're giving them their money's worth."
Dro's long-talked-about second LP, The Young and Restless, is coming out sometime. We don't know an exact date, but he says this year.
"We're at the last stages of it," he said. "It's about to be a closed casket. I just wanna take my time. It's a lot of people out there rushing." Danjahandz, Mannie Fresh, Akon, Fantasia, T.I., Lil Wayne and Midi Mafia are all on point for the project.
Joints To Check For
» "House on Me." "That's it," Dro says. "If all else fails, put the house on Dro. Place your bets on me. I'm one of the best to have done it, still am. I'm gonna be spitting the gutter fire, hard concrete. Put the house on me. Bank on it."
» "I'm Sick of It." "When I say, 'I'm sick of it,' I really be nauseous," Dro said. "You can see people in the streets trying to do what you do, you really be sick of it. These chicks out here try to play tricks on you, I'm sick of them too. I'm kushed up to where I'm sick of myself. Everybody gets sick of something sometime."
» "Makin' All That Money." "That's for the ladies like my single moms in the club," Young said. "Don't let nobody cheat you, if you not there getting that money. For all my college-tuition chicks. My mousse babies. Not moose-looking women, but ladies moussing their hair. If you getting to that money and you looking good, get your money. I'll break bread with you. I ain't no crab."
Don't Sleep: Other Notable Selections This Week
» J Armz - How to Be an MC 51
» DJ Wats - Iron Man
» DJ Scope - Scope Drop That Edition
» Trapaholics and Andre 3000 - Alter Ego The Mixtape
» DJ Whiteowl and 50 Cent - The Rulers Back 3
'Hood's Heavy Rotation: Bubbling Below The Radar
» Baby (featuring Lil Wayne) - "I Run This" remix
» Bow Wow - "Pole in My Basement"
» J Dilla - "Pay Jay"
» Pharoahe Monch - "Broken Heart"
» Shawty Putt (featuring Lil Jon) - "Dat Baby"
» Show Stoppas - "Whoop Rico"
Fire Starter: Mazzi
One of the mainstays of the underground hip-hop collective S.O.U.L. Purpose, Mazzi has been performing his brash rhymes at concerts — opening up for Eminem, Big Pun and Big Daddy Kane, among others — and in corner ciphers. He's also been behind the scenes working radio promotion for Def Jam. Maz recently started kicking up dust, making fun of "hipster rap" and up-and-coming artist Jay Electronica with the new viral video "Lesson A." Just last week, S.O.U.L. Purpose released an independent LP, The Construction, and part of the profits will go to the Boys & Girls Club of America.
"I'm doing the knowledge, E. I'm trying to get paid in full." Lloyd was so young when Eric B. and Rakim's classic album Paid in Full and its title track came out in 1987, he couldn't even say, "What happened to 'peace'?" But he's doing the hip-hop legends some poetic justice on his new record, "Girls Around the World." He flips the beat from "Paid in Full" on the track, which features Lil Wayne.
"Can't get you off my mind; you're like my favorite song," he sings in a high pitch. "Just wanna turn you on, rock you all night long."
"You know what it was, when Eric B. and Rakim was out with 'Paid in Full,' the intensity was a little bit more special," Lloyd said, explaining why he chose to pay homage to that record on his third LP, Lessons in Love, which comes out this summer. "It was also something considered to be sacred. Being a part of this game, you dedicated everything you had to being innovative with your sound. There's a lot of ringtone artists who only come out with a really good song, and they disappear forever. To be back for a third time, it means that we must be pretty good at what we're doing. If we're gonna do it, let's not slack up and get lazy. Success just builds expectation in my world. ... That's what I want to be one day. I want to be a legend."
Lloyd is now planning a "Girls Around the World" video and wants its theme to be based on one of Martin Lawrence's funniest films. Stay tuned.
The Streets Is Talking: News & Notes From the Underground
Kanye and Rih Rih. Jay-Z and Queen MJB. Now it's looking like it will be Weezy and Key C. Lil Wayne has his eye on Keyshia Cole to be his tourmate soon after Tha Carter III drops on June 10. Originally, Wayne was in talks with 50 Cent to go out with the G-Unit later this year.
"Um, that one, I don't think is gonna work no more," Wayne said about touring with the Unit. "It was something that ain't went right. I think I might go out with Keyshia Cole. You're bringing two different types of people in there. You got people coming to soothe their souls with Keyshia, and you got people who wanna throw their hands up with me. It's like listening to the radio. I think a concert should be like listening to the radio. When you listen to the radio, and your top-five or top-eight songs come on, it's hip-hop, it's R&B. ... I think you gonna get that from me and Keyshia and whatever in between that."
"I'mma kidnap him and take him on tour with me," Cole told us Thursday, on the set of the new Game video "Pain."
"I think it's a little harder to get him on the stage than it is to get me," she smiled. "We gotta make sure we get together on that."
Speaking of hip-hop and R&B, what's bigger than the collaboration between Usher, Beyoncé and Lil Wayne right now? "Love in This Club Part 2" features the New Orleans nightmare rapping and singing with the reigning king and queen of R&B.
"And it started with a hug, but now we making love in this club," Wayne drones. "We not gonna stop just because the people in the crowd are watching us/ 'Cause we don't give a dayyyummm what they say."
"I ain't gonna front, I actually recorded it with Keri Hilson," Birdman Jr. said. "I was hoping that Usher would keep my little singing part, my little four bars at the end. That's the best part of my verse, everybody was saying. He kept it. I respect him for that. A lot of singers, sometimes you go to singing on their song, and they know you're a rapper. They just chop that whole part off. But he kept that. Usher's a real dude for that. I respect him for that." ...
He's the only Snowman who can heat things up and not melt. Young Jeezy's guest appearances have been impeccable. We're gonna check for his album, but Mr. 17.5 has already made his verses indispensable on the streets, the clubs and for the first time in his career, the very top of the Billboard charts with Usher's "Love in This Club."
After his short hiatus last year (Jeezy says he had to take time to count his money), he came out with verses on remixes of Shawty Lo's "Dey Know" and Rocko's "Umma Do Me."
"I'm in the streets every day," Jeezy told us in his Dirty South Studios. "I was in the club. I was in the strip club, matter of fact. It might have been Onyx. I heard ['Umma Do Me'], and I was like, man. I found out Drummer Boy did it. I know Rocko from around the way. I listened to it, then I said, 'Let me jump on it.' I jumped on it on some mixtape type vibe. I didn't write it or nothing. When I caught up with them, I said it's a gift and the whole nine. That's what real cats do. You see somebody else doing what they do, you throw that lifeline out. Ain't nobody do it for me. I threw that lifeline. Same thing with that Shawty Lo. You throw that lifeline out. I liked the song. [Lo] is from the West Side and they do what they do.
"Matter of fact, I couldn't resist that one," he added of the Lo record. "I liked the beat. I wanted the beat. The beat is crazy. I wasn't sure what they was doing with it. I wanted to get on it anyway. It's like sparring to me. You gotta stay in it. I was like, 'I'm not about to drop [an album] anytime soon. Let me go out and play a little bit.' "
Jeezy's third album is coming out this year (he wouldn't reveal anything more on that subject), but he promises a mixtape before then.
"They want Jeezy, they gonna get Jeezy," he laughed.
The Snowman held true to his word. Over the weekend, a brand-new song called "Put On" was leaked online. The song was produced by Drumma Boy (Rocko's "Umma Do Me") and features Kanye West. Check for 'Ye's use of the auto-tune machine. ...
She obviously has a ton of style and spunk, but does Lil Mama have the poetic acumen to make her a hip-hop mainstay? Songs like "G-Slide," "Shawty Get Loose" and "Lip Gloss" have solidified her as a young, up-and-coming rap star, but a certified lyricist? Not just yet. Mama, however, says that if you listen to the meat of her recently released debut, VYP: Voice of the Young People, there's no missing her distinguished way with words.
"One of the biggest misconceptions about me would have to be my skills," she told us. "They try to compare me to other new female artists who may have been out in the past, who may have got a shot then flopped. Then they be like, 'She's gonna do the same thing. She's not a real rapper. She can't keep up with this person or that person.' But if you put me in the ring with a lot of the top dudes in the spot right now, I'll slaughter them.
"I feel the need to put lyrical content in my songs," she added. "That's what I do. I'm an artist. I don't sit in the studio and dance around. I love to dance. I wish I could go in a room and let somebody write my songs, and I come back and read it and record it. Artists that are out right now, that's what they are doing. They come back in and say, 'Oh, that's it? What's the melody? That's how I sing it?' Then they go in the booth and lay it down and go back to their own pretty life. Me, I'm different. When I write, my soul is into it. I need clarity. When I write, I'm not gonna write, 'Nick nack, patty wack/ Give a dog a bone.' "
In Mama's opinion, there is a double standard when it comes to male and female rappers.
"For one, I'm a female," she said about why she doesn't get the accolades she thinks she deserves. "For two, they hear a song like 'Lip Gloss.' They feel, 'It's easy; it's this, that.' But if a man was to put out the same type of song — different concept, same type of flow on the hook, it's: 'Hot. He's crazy!' When it's a female, never. Then you have people who want the chance to do what I'm doing and instead of giving it to me, they'd rather hate."
The young'in is spittin' insightfully on her next single "L.I.F.E." Life as a shorty shouldn't be so rough.
"Well, I have a record on my album called 'L.I.F.E.,' " she said. "I know people say, 'She always mentions that song,' but 'L.I.F.E.' is one of the strongest records on my album. I talk about the orphanage, teenage pregnancies. It's three verses, and I give you a different story on each verse. Where I come from, my grandmother is a foster parent. I have a lot of cousins who got pregnant at an early age. My father and other men in my family had to deal with not having fresh clothes [growing up]. Going into free lunch and having to eat really quickly then having to leave. You had people who were very offended by their situation. I write about that. This record, 'L.I.F.E.,' it's very touching. [Some of my family] feel like I'm directing [the lyrics] towards them, but it's a very broad song. It's a million young girls who go through that and millions of young guys who go through that."
She also has a concept that will remind you of Daryl Hannah in "Splash." Well, maybe Ariel.
"I have a record called 'Swim' about a guy who can't keep up with me," she continued. "I'm in a different lane. I'm a mermaid, I'm in the ocean and swimming, and he walks on his two feet. It's like the cartoon 'The Little Mermaid.' Except, it's coming from my point of view. In the cartoon, she wants to be where he is. In this song, he wants to be where she is. He can't live that life."
For other artists featured in Mixtape Monday, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.