FME Mixtape MVP 2013 Honorable Mention-Troy Ave
In a year of very disparate hip hop narratives you could always count on Troy Ave. I mean that in the most literal way. So much of this year featured high profile datpiff crashing mixtapes that didn’t warrant space on anyone’s computer. Product v. expectations was the downfall of so many and many of that many were NY artists. Troy Ave is the answer to all the “bring NY back” chants for two main reasons.
1. Identity-since NY was the center of hip hop NY radio always just played itself. During the West Coast revolution they crossed their arms and turned up Craig Mack. The state of the game has changed so much that all of the best music is from elsewhere. Atlanta has Jeezy and TI and Gucci and trap music and strip club music. Kendrick Lamar is on The Source wearing a crown talking about being king of NY(on Big Sean’s song Control) and they can’t do anything but take it. If you don’t have the fresh ideas you don’t lead the way, that’s just how rap is. Troy Ave threw out the book on what is supposed to be fresh and hip and went back to the dungeons of goon rap(sweetening it with a little G-unit flavored bad guy pop rap). At first we all said “This is the NY answer to trap.” It quickly became clear that this was a lot more. This is an artist who doesn’t care what year it is or what era it is or who you think is the best. He’s making it and you won’t be able to ignore him.
2. Consistency-A lot of talented NY rappers have tried to bring their music back to the heart of east coast tough talk (think Saigon, Reks) but stumbling blocks always present themselves. By “bringin’ it back” are you gonna spend all your bars whining about music nowadays? I don’t want to hear that. When the record company people say they need a song for the strip clubs or you are not that popular in Georgia what are you going to do? By remaining unsigned Troy Ave dodged a lot of these questions and kept his music just as consistent as it is airtight. No matter how much crack talk comes up on any project it’s filled with melody. Listen to Viking off of his New York City mixtape and try not to sing-a-long with the offensive lyrics. While connecting to what everyone defines as the “NY hip hop” sound he was cleverly utilizing post-cloud rap post-trap production trends. 2013 was full of a lot of junk but at its worst times you could always count on a new Troy Ave project showing up and being awesome.
Strategically he was masterful. Last Christmas he put out a hardcore mixtape that commemorated the holiday (White Christmas) and all of this year he has put both his people and himself on in entirely separate ways. For his crew he has churned out three volumes of their BSB mixtapes. These are always way over twenty tracks long and spotlight the people who need it: Lena Soul, King Sevin, Avon Blocksdale, and Young Lito. Troy Ave is ever present even if he’s sneering in the background. For himself, what he started with the Bricks in My Backpack series he blew up big screen on New York City which is every bit as hype as he sold it. Scram Jones comes out of nowhere with great beats; Tony Yayo, Raekwon, Prodigy and N.O.R.E. come with verses that fit. It doesn’t even have a THIS IS MY TIME vibe to it, more like I told you so.
Have I told you about the keymixes? Taking someone’s beat and rapping over it is as old as Funkmaster Flex. Troy Ave restructures the song itself. Sure he takes UOENO from Rocko, Ross and Future and makes it a leaner meaner jam about determination but he croons Frank Ocean’s Thinking About You changing the subject to ghetto birds and selling white. He did the same thing to Ashanti’s song Baby. I’m not joking. Go to youtube and lookup Troy Ave Baby Keymix, its amazing.
Why is he not MVP? You have to nitpick at this level so I would say while he has a winning attitude and product he doesn’t have verses that stand out on the same level. I can’t really give you a great verse or line from Troy Ave to put on a T-shirt and if that’s his main problem I’m fine with that. Determined artists have a freakish way of improving so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the 2014 model burned the whole game to the ground while calling Kendrick just another weirdo rapper. That’s his style.
Stream or download White Christmas below:
Stream or download BSB Vol.3 below:
Stream or download New York City below:
Stream or download BSB Vol. 2 below: