Tag Archives: Troy Ave

Mixtape Review-White Christmas 3 by Troy Ave

Mixtape Review-White Christmas 3 by Troy Ave

by Dan-O

Troy Ave put out his Major Without A Deal album to the lowest sales numbers anyone could imagine. The result was classic ugly internet foolishness; the critics told everyone they knew he didn’t matter the whole time, the twitter comedians were cutting together the funniest meme’s they could muster, meanwhile Troy Ave was trying to defend his position. I didn’t say boo.

It was a difficult position for an artist who thrives on will and determination, always looking for successful moments as the fuel for his continuing drive. The musical son of the 50 Cent swag Troy Ave is fun to listen too despite not being a technically impressive MC and while you can say whatever you want about Major Without A Deal you can always rely on Troy Ave…on Christmas.

This is the third installment of his yearly tradition and it captures everything good about him. Shittin On You featuring Yo Gotti is the clear cut high point of the experience. I remember listening to it for the second time and thinking how surreal it was; three artists(Troy Ave, Yo Gotti and producer ChaseNCashe)  all slept on, all successful because of force of will and the intensity of their musical personality crafting one of the years very best songs. Everything Yo Gotti says sounds like the uncensored truth; Troy Ave nails the hook like he’s gunning for the elusive NY crown.  As that song ends you can’t help but want these three to just form a group already. For his part ChaseNCashe does this song and TRAP both stand outs on the mixtape, he remains one of the best most slept on hip hop commodities. On a Hit-Boy level of production skill without that acknowledgement.

My faith in Troy Ave never wavered. His desire to win is so great that I have no doubt he’ll figure it out. White Christmas 3 already cuts out the 20 minute shout out track he has sometimes been guilty of (thank you Troy Ave).  He takes risks like Naomi Joy which has a very cloudy beat (from Rubi Rosa) a very distant sound from his bangers but he spins it finding/forcing the melody into it. Rubi Rosa deserves a salute as well for not just this odd beauty of a beat but the lovely piano and bass song Perm.  Most of the mixtape is Troy Ave finding his center again like “I don’t care if they hate me; they did nothing to make me (Devotion).”  The shock of popular opinion thrust against him has made him more attentive to his fans, appreciative of the people who stand by when everything falls through.  Devotion is the most he’s ever acknowledged a fan relationship in his career, “I’m a little abrasive I like the love you showed but I ain’t used to people speaking to me I don’t know.” He promises that he’ll get used to it, he’s acknowledging the learning process that is taking place on both sides. Fans are always trying to figure out what Troy Ave’s ceiling is and he’s always reaching for it.

I think you need some goon music for Christmas but goon music with perspective. Goon music that picked itself up dusted itself off and won again. Something to make you feel all the things you should love about yourself. Welcome to Troy Ave’s White Christmas 3.

stream or download White Christmas 3:




Song review-See a Key(Ki’) by Skyzoo featuring Jadakiss produced by Thelonius Martin

Song review-See a Key(Ki’) by Skyzoo featuring Jadakiss produced by Thelonius Martin

by Dan-O

The narrative that NY hip hop is dead has been bolstered by the poor sales of Troy Ave’s album Major Without A Deal (which you won’t catch me writing about, I don’t kick people when they are down), but it’s still false. This year has seen a slew of important NY releases: Ka, Action Bronson, Raekwon, and Ghostface. These albums did more than “keep up the tradition” they were sonically unique and took the sound you were used too in a different direction. So why does that narrative persist? NY started EVERYTHING. Of course it’s not what it once was since it used to be EVERYTHING. We now have hip hop in London, Cleveland, Huntsville, etc and that’s great. We still have a rich buffet of NY hip hop but we have other options as well.

So Skyzoo has a new album Music For My Friends which showcases everything you love about him(and the traditional hip hop that is supposed to have passed). His lyrics have a Jeet Kune Do (#knowBruceLee) adaptability, dense and light at the same time. Always intensely thoughtful but able to chuckle and joke at the same time. Loose and dangerous is how Sky works best, at his worst he’s lost in his mind and at his best he’s lost in the music. Music For My Friends has the sonic template he loves, very specifically the boom bap Primo trafficked in; powerful drums and bass all conducted with a jazz ear. All the other sounds set off and ripple like a stone skipped on water; just the way Coltrane’s Naima feels. That’s what makes the album so good; if you just want a banger here you go. Jadakiss is sharp as ever (“when you don’t recognize your blessings you send them away” DAMN!) and if you want this song to be more about drugs than dreaming you can hear it that way. The cool thing is it’s not. For lyrics heads we can read Sky’s lyrics and find triple meanings among the Jazzmatazz of it all. That complexity of lyricism tracks back to New York and it still lives there.

FME Mixtape MVP 2013 Honorable Mention-Troy Ave

FME Mixtape MVP 2013 Honorable Mention-Troy Ave

by Dan-O

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:

Mixtape Review-Vado- Slime Flu 4

Mixtape Review-Vado- Slime Flu 4

by Dan-O

If New York hip hop is in recovery it’s a relatively joyless one. While people like Ka and Roc Marciano release great music, the popular sound of New York is the practiced and insincere NY trap of A$ap Ferg and the like. In the world of mixtapes we get mostly questions: where did Lloyd Banks go, why has Cam’ron had a mixtape cover in the coming soon section of datpiff all year?

In the past few years the only consistent things in the world of NY mixtapes have been Troy Ave who floods the market with his own product as well as the very listenable BSB crew compilations and Vado. For his part last year, Vado put out one of the truly remarkable time machine goon rap mixtapes in Slime Flu 3. It had great movie and TV show samples, sludgy slamming beats with odd references. It was the kind of mixtape that felt like it didn’t care about an audience, it has an identity and if you don’t like it… too bad.

Somehow volume 4 is even slimier and more gooned out. Its 19 tracks with four horrible skits featuring every NY participant you can think of (Raekwon, Jadakiss, French Montana, Chinx Drugz, Troy Ave, Maino, Lloyd Banks, Uncle Murda, Noreaga, air horns, Smoke Dza, and Fabolous). When I first heard the terrible skits where two men argue stupidly like Spike Lee characters I couldn’t help but smile. What would a great NY mixtape be without bad skits? Maybe I am part of an older generation but NY rap to me always sounded like the first three Mobb Deep albums or Cormega seeking revenge or G Rap in a Carhartt jacket spitting like it was a warning. Slime Flu 4 leaves no doubt this is the lineage of Vado. Is there a more NY verse than “Target practice shoot any, I aim shot em. Army jacket blue yankee with grey bottoms. You ain’t me if you ain’t Harlem (American Gangster),” what other region would shoot you and tell you what they are wearing?

In a lot of ways Slime Flu 4 is a funhouse mirror of styles that run through east coast rap. Kopy is very much a French Montana song with that radio friendly swaying hook to it. Heard U features Yo Gotti and sounds like Vado fitting his sound into a Trap-A-Holics framework where the horns lead you to the bounce instead of the sludge bap thump overcoming you. Straight For The Summer has Kirko Bangz doing his Texas rap Jodeci hook while Fab and Vado lay raps about ladies in fur coats and high heels.

The high points stick with you after listening to Slime Flu 4, many from its back half. Chest beating local anthem The Town features a great Maino verse that actually overwhelms Lloyd Banks. R.N.S. has chemistry beyond posse track. Jada, Troy Ave and Vado fit like a glove together; Troy Ave with his natural 50 Cent-like ability with hooks fits snugly between Vado and Jada as they talk about living cigar life and being ten steps ahead. It feels like Jada is excited for his verse because he’s thrilled this music is still around. For anyone doubting Vado’s ability to open doors to other topics of conversation—see Remember. Throughout the track he traverses personal stories without breaking the tough consistency of the mixtape. He still mixes basketball references and Papoose Summer Jam memories in with his personal tales of struggle. It all seems tangled up with who he is.

You cannot overvalue consistency. Consumers reward artists for successful experiments but we sure don’t want to pay for the failed ones. Can I think of better rappers than Vado? Absolutely, I can think of a bunch in NY BUT how reliable is their music? How fun is that music to listen too? How many NY rappers can I name that are more reliable than Vado? Not many.

stream or download Slime Flu 4 below:


p.s. Slime Flu 4 has one of my favorite references of this year. Many rappers have referenced the colorful villain Sho’nuff from Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon but Vado went in a whole different direction. “They say I’m the last dragon. I’m Eddie Arkadian with the piranha tank (White Collar).” Now that is a movie reference! http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_T7F7ffynvhA/SYTbhN1HuPI/AAAAAAAAAJs/Pzp0SEtTAH8/s320/bscap0004.jpg

Troy Ave-Bricks in My Backpack 3:The Harry Powder Trilogy review

Troy Ave-Bricks in my Backpack 3:The Harry Powder Trilogy review

 by Dan-O

I think cocaine is much more symbolic in hip hop than people give credit. Everyone knows the literal impression that coke leaves on impoverished neighborhoods (at least you think you know cause you saw that documentary). Don’t  forget that hip hop grew up as a flying middle finger to an established Reagan Americathat disregarded low income citizens. Hip hop is always going to be oppositional to some extent. Artists like Troy Ave use cocaine not just as a way to seem dangerous, but as the Darth Vader way of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps in a country that still doesn’t care that much about its poor. Troy Aveillustrates this quite well in his new mixtape Bricks in my Backpack 3: The Harry Powder Trilogy.

He is a strange mixture as coke rappers go and fairly dedicated. Working his dealer persona into every song without apology but this isn’t the Clipse. He’s not playing home run derby with coke metaphors, honestly I’m not sure he could. Even on songs I love like “Lord Is My Witness” his slow flow and predictable lyrics will have you calling out his next line while you enjoy the fantastic organ DJ Uneek worked into the beat.

Bricks in my backpack isn’t just NY trap, it suggests the hell out of 50 cent. His lead single from the tape is “Red Cup” and once you hear that piano, you’ll get the G-unit vibe. He does his best to be just as unlikeable, starting his verse with “I don’t do sh*t but get money and f#$k hoes…” unlike 50 his sense of humor is deceptive. When 50 joked he bellowed that Care Bear villain laugh, when Troy Ave jokes he says with a straight face “Word to my spleen…(Free Base)”

The mixture of coke talk, unlikeable images and great, catchy hooks is emotionally dizzying if you’re the type of listener trying to figure things out. For instance, a song called “Super Cool” has a self explanatory mission but in building his case, Troy Ave wants you to know this about his sex life “Doing bout a thousand forty strokes an hour seven minutes later she gone take a shower. Clean quickies on the real, just in time to take my chicken off the foreman grill (Can’t let it burn! *doubled vocal*).” This seems like a lyric from a novelty rap song, it comes alongside 16 other tracks full of gun shots, cocaine, and jokes like this. In Cokeamania he brags about slanging wood like Jim Duggan. That’s right the song is called Cokeamania. Track number seven is called Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang. Amongst all the silliness it makes sense that Action Bronson comes through on “Wheelin’ and Dealin’” for a verse full of powerful ridiculousness. 

Number four is my favorite(Snow). He starts it with “Ain’t nothing subliminal about it drug dealing n#$% I got it…” It is subliminal; the beat is all delicate chimes, and tone. His voice sings the chorus in a quiet and pristinely mocking way using the delicate environment created to brag about making it snow. It’s his way of continuing the “if I’m a monster you built me” narrative. It’s snide, mean, uncaring and funny. For me…it’s catchy as anything this year and interesting right down to the last few seconds where he warns haters who disapprove of his singing.

A while ago I learned that music is about moods: for some moods I need Santana and some moods I need Troy ave

To stream or download Bricks in My Backpack 3 click the link below: