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Dro Kenji: From SoundCloud Prodigy to Hip Hop Star

Dro Kenji: From SoundCloud Prodigy to Hip Hop Star
Photo: Daniel Prakopcyk / Audible Treats

WHO IS DRO KENJI?

Some rappers take years to get their flowers, while others — like Dro Kenji — hit the ground running. This 21-year-old South Carolina rapper/singer born Daniel Jenrette has wasted little time making his presence felt in the rap world, despite only getting his start a few short years ago. Making music branded as trap and emo rap with a more atmospheric feel than some of his SoundCloud-raised peers, Dro Kenji’s style has been likened to the late Juice WRLD, though he isn’t keen on these comparisons.

Singing while also spitting lovesick bars backed by rich, 808-heavy production, Dro has successfully harnessed the power of the Internet to build his profile within the constantly oversaturated world of hip hop. Here’s a closer look at how Dro Kenji came up in the world of music, his successes up to now, and what the future has in store for this prolific young rap star.

Photo: Tyler Raye

HOW DRO KENJI GOT ON THE MAP

Dro Kenji’s interest in rapping began in 2019 at the age of 17, after seeing friends of his start to make music of their own. An avid gamer growing up, he’d listen to video game soundtracks as well as the rap and R&B music his parents loved. Though he’d not previously considered pursuing a music career, Dro already knew how to play the piano and trumpet. Hailing from Summerville, SC, Dro Kenji made his first song using Audacity, and his tracks eventually caught the attention of label Internet Money the following year. One of their A&Rs connected Dro to the label, brought him to L.A. to cut tracks at the label’s HQ, and a creative partnership was born.

While he was still in high school, Dro uploaded tracks and mixtapes to SoundCloud. The same year he started rapping, Dro Kenji released his first three singles: “Rokstarr”, “Rob da Bank”, and “Knot” featuring KobeKo. This eventually prefaced the release of two self-released projects in late 2020: Tears and Pistols and Race Me to Hell. “Kill Cupid”, released in February 2021, would prove to be his breakout tune. His debut album on Internet Money, Eat Your Heart Out, came out that same month. His project, Fuck Your Feelings, dropped less than four months later, with two more albums in 2022 (With or Without You and Anywhere but Here) and his newest LP, August’s Wish You Were Here. Dro’s endless flow of creativity has gotten him on some major festival bills, including Rolling Loud and SXSW.

Photo: Tyler Raye

DRO KENJI’S KEYS FOR SUCCESS

Despite only releasing his debut album in 2020, Dro Kenji has shown himself as being incredibly prolific, having released six more albums since in a span of less than three years (an average of *number* per year). Singing and rapping with equal gusto, and Dro’s music tackles well-trodden subject matter in the genre, like drugs and relationships. Dro’s tracks also stand out thanks to an influence from rock music. Playing the Rock Band video game growing up introduced him to many of the biggest bands on its soundtrack, including Radiohead and Weezer, and Dro takes influence from those bands in how he writes melodies.

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As mentioned earlier, the Internet — and specifically SoundCloud, where he gained his initial following — have played major roles in getting Dro Kenji on the map. Armed with only his laptop and no proper microphone, Dro started making songs by connecting his iPhone 6 to his laptop as a makeshift mic. He’s also got a sizable social media presence, with more than 135,000 Instagram followers, 333,000+ likes on TikTok, and close to 800,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. On YouTube, Dro’s videos have had more than 24 million views in total, with his most-viewed clip being “Superstar”, at more than 1.2 million views.

Photo: Colt Walker

WHAT’S NEXT FOR DRO KENJI

Dro Kenji recently wrapped up a run of headlining tour dates across the United States (including one Canadian stop in Vancouver), with support from Mike Dimes. That tour began in mid-October in Tucson, AZ before finishing November 20 in San Antonio, TX. This comes after two other dates back in March in Montreal and Austin, TX. In an interview with XXL, Dro says he’ll get bigger as an artist because he’s “just feeling the vibes, really. I'm just making music, making music that I enjoy, and my fans are loving the music. I just wanna keep evolving. Shit keeps going up, so I'm gonna keep dropping. My music is helping people.”

As of now, Dro Kenji hasn’t announced any additional tour dates or upcoming new music. He did, however, tweet “Tour was amazing. See u soon. <3”, implying that he has something cooking, regardless of what that might be. To stay in the loop with Dro Kenji and find out what’s next for him, follow his Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud and TikTok accounts, as well as his YouTube account and any streaming platform.

FAQS ABOUT DRO KENJI

Where is Dro Kenji from?

Dro Kenji hails from Summerville, South Carolina.

How old is Dro Kenji?

Dro Kenji was born on January 11, 2002, and is 21 years of age.

What is Dro Kenji’s real name?

Dro Kenji’s real name is Daniel Jerome Jenrette.

Who is Dro Kenji signed to?

Dro Kenji is currently signed to 10K Projects and Internet Money Records.

What was Dro Kenji’s breakout song?

Dro Kenji’s breakout song was “Kill Cupid”, released in February 2021.

Who influenced Dro Kenji's music?

Dro Kenji is influenced by various artists within the rap world (Future, Young Thug, XXXTENTACION, French Montana, and ‘90s hip hop and R&B his parents loved) and outside of it (Green Day, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Weezer).

What’s next for Dro Kenji?

Though he’s not announced anything concrete, Dro Kenji just finished a run of tour dates across North America and recently took to social media posting the caption “Tour was amazing. See u soon. <3”

How can I stay updated with Dro Kenji’s music?

You can keep up with all things Dro Kenji by following his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts; listening to him on SoundCloud; and watching his content on YouTube and TikTok.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave MacIntyre
As a student in the journalism program at Concordia University in Montreal, I specialized in both print and broadcast journalism. At the moment, my key strokes are busy writing content for Cult MTL, Exclaim!, RANGE and many others.

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