Dro Kenji

Dro Kenji’s rise is a testament to the power of the internet. Last year, the 19-year-old artist was a senior in high school in South Carolina, releasing a string of captivating singles and mixtapes on his SoundCloud. Now, he’s preparing to release his debut album on Mira Touch/ Internet Money Records/ 10K Projects, collaborating closely with the label’s team of platinum-certified producers, and hoping to earn some plaques of his own. A true child of the digital age, raised on video games and the lo-fi sounds of rap’s online underground, he has a remarkable ability to capture both the apathy and aspiration of his generation in his songs and a spellbinding voice with which to tell these stories.Raised in Summerville, South Carolina, a town outside of Charleston, Dro Kenji mostly kept to himself. “There’s not really a lot going on,” he says of his hometown. “Up until I started making music at the end of 10th grade, I really didn’t do shit but play video games and listen to music.” His parents put him on to classic ‘90s-era hip-hop and R&B, but some of his earliest music fandom came from an unlikely combination of his two main hobbies: the video game Rock Band. While playing, he heard songs by Weezer, Radiohead, and Soundgarden, bands whose lead singers wouldgo on to influence his own soaring melodies.In high school, inspired by the DIY recordings he found on SoundCloud from XXXTentacion among others, Dro Kenji decided to start making music of his own. “When I wanted to make a song, I didn’t know how to doanything,” he remembers.“I didn’t have a mic; I just had a shitty laptop.” At first, he downloaded an app that allowed him to use his iPhone 6 as a microphone plugged into his computer but, eventually, his process evolved and so too did the songs he wascrafting, reflecting a sound that was more melodic and off-kilter like the music he had always been drawn to online.Last summer, after graduating from high school and building a steadily growing SoundCloud fanbase with mixtapes like Introvert and standout tracks like the buoyant anthem “Finnished,” Dro Kenji got a DM on Instagram an Internet Money A&R. A month later, he was in Los Angeles, recording at the Internet Money headquarters. The songs he’s recorded over the past six months, with tracks like “Save Me” and “Houdini” produced by Internet Money’s resident hitmaker Nick Mira, show Dro Kenji with an elevated confidence in his impressive vocal range.Eat Your Heart Out, his debut album on Internet Money and 10K Projects, deals with the growing painsof leaving home and living fast. While songs like the pop punk-inflected “4 Life” find him lamenting young love lost, hedonistic anthems like “Goodbyes” serve as a soundtrack for late nights that make it easier to forget. Overall, it presents Dro Kenji asan artist unafraid to bear his soul to a young generation going through the same experiences: “Put it in a song and they gon’ fuck with it.”

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