Why I Like Troy Ave (Regardless of Album Sales)

It’s a weird time in the history of hip-hop. The “next-up” generation of artists has been bred in a different climate. When you ask them about the old school, they mention names like Nelly and Young Joc – ouch! For this reason, many of the more “seasoned” (age wise) tend to, for lack of a better term, hate young hip-hop heads, and a bulk of the ultra-repetitive new brand of trap. Although, there are always exceptions to the rule. 

Some of the younger cats happened to have cool parents (like us) that made them explore the culture. The result is artists like Joey Badass and Bishop Nehru, who authentically sound like the golden era. Other new artists just happen to have that “it” factor that made audiences fall in love with hip-hop back in the day; above all, they can spit. Two examples of this are A$AP Rocky (and company) and the main subject of this article, Troy Ave.

I’ve been listening to Troy for a while now. After his recent release, Major Without A Deal, I felt like I needed to get vocal about him, and why he’s a good look.

He’s unapologetically hip-hop, very NYC and 100% independent; and real independence isn’t something all artists can claim.

Remember his XXL Freshman cipher? He called out everyone else in the line-up for being a bunch of “weirdos”. Rightfully so. In a sea of skinny jeans and funny accessories, he was rocking a mink and counting a stack of money while the others dropped their verses. How NYC is that? He’s flashy, and no gimmicks at the same time. Is he cocky? Yes. Does he tell you that he’s bringing NYC back too much, maybe – but that’s hip-hop! It’s a cocky, competitive landscape. I’ve seen plenty of journalists bash him for the above two points, but he’s continuing to thrive. Don’t forget, hip-hop is an underdog sport.

He has a bit of a 50 sound, but honestly, he’s a heavy hip-hop head from New York City. As if he wasn’t at all influenced by 50 – he’s the right age. He was 17-18 when Get Rich Or Die Trying Dropped. So many rappers have blended other rappers into their style. This criticism of Troy seems especially dated. Mostly because of the actual uniqueness of his voice – and the fact that he doesn’t sonically make music like 50. I mean, not any more than Action Bronson sounds like Ghost.

His new album is worth listening to. His features alone deserve all the attention they get. I mean, hate on the kid all you want. But Major Without A Deal has cameos by Puff and Mase, and some of the hottest 16’s I’ve heard from Cam and Fat Joe in a longtime.

Are all his songs at the peak of originality? Let me answer with another question, are anyone? Look, hip-hop is like The Simpsons, it has lots of writers and over 30+ years has touched on just about everything. Troy knows his roots and is going as hard as he can to rep his city. I’ve seen lots of journalists who hated on this cat while praising artists like French Montana ( and the like) in the same breath. Stop hating. Apparently not dressing like a hipster and making NYC street hop – with his slant – makes him cliché. All the while, every artist that follows the current wave of similarity is praised for their über creativity.


Despite what album sales say (and thanks to bootlegging and streaming they are subjective), his new album is definitely worth some spins. If his new radio single Doo Doo is any indication, he’s ready and willing to play ball. That means you’re going to be seeing much more of him.

Riley About Author

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns