News you can use: New York used to run hip-hop. Those days are over now. The South is the leading region, and its sound dominates the airwaves.
That being the case, many New York hip-hop heads can’t stop screaming about the sad state of their reputed hip-hop mecca. Many claim unity is the problem, so they make songs like this Banned From TV remake, featuring Maino, Bodega Bamz, Chinx, Troy Ave, Mack Wilds & City Boy Dee. Me, I’ve yet to see someone make a good argument for unity being so critical to the city’s success. So I think one of New York’s biggest problems is simply that current tastes don’t align with what New York makes.
Troy Ave does just about nothing to help that problem on New York City. He does not branch out to other regions’ sounds. He does not make strip club/twerk anthems. He does not make obvious love or funny songs. What he does do, and well might I add, is make hardcore, unapologetically New York, hip-hop. I can’t say that this will resonate with the rest of the nation, and I don’t care if it doesn’t. New York needs to first concentrate on making good music, and only afterwards should they worry about reaching other regions. That’s how The South took over: they pleased themselves first and let everyone else catch on later.
Anyway, back to Troy Ave. Dude’s so Brooklyn it’s in his name. His beat selection is amazing. Everything, minus the much softer Me Against The World, is strongly rooted in New York’s hardcore sound. In fact, maybe too rooted. Troy clearly modeled his sound after 50 Cent. Their hook styles have many similarities like halfway-singing and making one part much more catchy than the other, and many of Troy’s best beats have spiritual siblings on 50’s Get Rich or Die Trying. (For the record, I noticed this before finding out that 50 feels the same way.) This is all understandable because 50 Cent’s early music was an incredible melding of catchy with hardcore, so it’s a smart choice for inspiration. Also, Troy does this sound very well, even better than the current 50 Cent. But Troy’s Show Me Love goes too far by featuring 50’s former G-Unit partner Tony Yayo, and jacking the hook from 50’s In Da Club.
But even when venturing past homage into copying territory, I can’t stay mad at New York City because the music is so good. Troy doesn’t even need to rap about anything else besides drug sales, because his multisyllabic rhyming is more than intricate enough to keep things interesting.
My only real issue with New York City is that, after many listens, I don’t feel that I know anything more about Troy Ave. Normally, an album of this style would include at least a few story-driven tracks, to give some insight into the rapper’s past. But the most that New York City has is Regretful, which crams in three stories and therefore is very shallow.
This is a minor criticism, because New York City isn’t about things like introspection or breaking new musical ground. But, since some of my love for New York City comes from the novelty of this long-lost style finally being remade well, Troy will need to add some depth and individuality to keep my interest in the future. That said, right now I’m happy with him single-mindedly, perfectly, capturing the best of the 2000s New York sound. Yes, there are shortcomings, but they hardly matter when, for the first time in a good while, I’m hearing this kind of music sound this good.