Courageous. Controversial. Witty. Brutally honest. The present and future of hip-hop in New York City. Troy Ave has been called all of these things. But there’s one thing that nobody ever disputes about him: he’s his own man. The Brooklyn-born rapper has called the shots in his heralded career, and stayed true to his vision even as his peers have capitulated to industry expectations. On More Money More Problems, his highly anticipated third album, he stands alone – no features, no B.S., no music business hand-holding. As always, he’s put it out on his own BSB Records, the independent imprint he’s steered to great success for the past five years, since the 2013 release of New York City The Album.
Indeed, as the hip-hop industry continues to consolidate and corporatize, it’s refreshing to see Troy successfully swim against the tide; in the words of the “Old Blue Eyes”, he’s doing it his way! On a Troy Ave project, there’s no buffer between his feelings and his storytelling, and no censor in sight. Maybe that’s why he’s always been able to go toe-to-toe with the biggest rappers in the world and compete on the same playing field that they do while remaining one-hundred percent independent. Not for no reason was his last set called Major Without A Deal: he stormed the Billboard charts (#14 R&B, #13 Rap) with momentum he generated by himself. Troy often says, “it costs me about $10k to create a project and I’ll make $150k easy every time I drop. Major labels are spending half a million and barely recoup. I may not have more clout but I have the artistic and financial freedom which is priceless.”
On “Ice Cream”, his latest single, the rapper does one of the things he’s best at: he puts the naysayers and nonbelievers in their places with a satisfying thud. Troy Ave is absolutely candid about his legal troubles and the betrayals of former friends, but that doesn’t stop him from boasting about his achievements and his impeccable style. And from his selection as one of XXL’s Freshmen in 2014 to the rave reviews he’s gotten for his recent Album Of The Summer and White Christmas mixtapes, he’s had plenty to swag about.
In the sexy, exuberant video for “Ice Cream” – which plays as a shout to the classic Raekwon clip of the same name – Troy Ave radiates nothing but confidence. Jon Koehler of the independent White Ape Films (Don Zio P, Treen, 300) shoots the rapper in a soft-serve parlor and surrounds him with beautiful women. Troy has worked with White Ape before on the equally dazzling clips for “UHOHH (from The First Purge Movie Soundtrack) and “Fight 4 My Life”, and they’ve always decorated each frame with gorgeous color. This time around, not only do the lights make the rapper and his friends look fantastic, they make the ice cream look great, too. And they show another side to the misunderstood storyteller: mean with a microphone in his hand, but also pretty adept with a palmful of rainbow sprinkles.