Young Dro

Best Thing Smokin'

posted September 08, 2006 12:00:00 AM CDT | 122 comments

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When an artist creates a successful career, he may sometimes bring his friends along for the ride. That's natural. Lately, it's also normal to have your close associates create their own albums. Everyone from Jay-Z to Eminem has done this with their brethren. It's almost as though it's a code: You make it, you bring your friends and you all celebrate. Unfortunately, it doesn't always pan out that way. Therefore, it's easy to understand the doubt placed on T.I.'s pal Young Dro. Questions automatically swirled as to whether or not Dro was a real emcee, or if he was just a homie put on by his successful comrade. With Best Thang Smokin', he has a chance to dispel the doubt and create his own lane. The question now is: Does he do this successfully? 

The album definitely starts off on a good note. Dro laces "100 Yard Dash" with an infectious chorus and colorful observations. His descriptive language sprinkled over a nice, heavy beat shows what he may have in store. Although hampered by a horrible guest spot from Xtaci, the track is a nice little introduction for the LP. Alas, the next slew of tracks fall flat, even with the potential. "Gangsta" and "Presidential" are bland lyrical outputs, though I'm quite sure they will bang in various clubs and whips around the country. With clever instances of color usage, (he describes everything: his Regal looks like prune juice) Dro manages to cause a few laughs and the instrumentals often bump, but it doesn't take away from the album's weak topical selection.

His shining moments with ink appear when he allows heartfelt emotion to flow through. "Hear Me Cry" and "We Lied" show there's more to Dro than bright colors and cliche hooks. Other shining moments appear courtesy of the production; Jazze Pha offers some hit selections and "Shoulder Lean" is certainly more than enough to make some people get up and try the dance.

But in the end, he doesn't differentiate himself from the pack. As a matter of fact, he sometimes appears to be a poor man's rendition of T.I., who makes two guest spots on the LP. "They Don't Really Know About Dro" sounds like "U Don't Know Me Pt 2." "Rubberband Banks" is reminiscent of "Rubberband Man," and his Jazze Pha collaborations are quite similar in sound to "Let's Get Away" from T.I.'s Trap Muzik. If Dro can make himself stand out above his partner in rhyme, it would do wonders for him as an artist, but that doesn't happen here. If I wanna listen to T.I., I'll listen to T.I., not a poor imitation of him. Instead, Best Thang Smokin' makes one wish a "No Smoking" sign was around.

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