Fire Starter: Troy Ave
Essential info: A rapper has to possess a healthy amount of confidence to name himself after one of Brooklyn, New York’s most infamous streets, but then again, confidence has never been a problem for Troy Ave.
“If anybody knows about Brooklyn, Troy Ave is a notorious avenue in Brooklyn, so I figured what better way to represent where I’m from and my ’hood than naming myself Troy Ave? So that’s what I did,” the rising MC told Mixtape Daily of his origin.
It was a pretty gutsy move considering how territorial the ’hoods in BK can be, but before making a name for himself in the studio, Troy built a rep on his block. “Before I took the name, I actually had street credibility,” he explained. “A lot of people knew me from different neighborhoods. I [wasn’t just] known within my four-block radius.”
The rapper’s first mixtape was ambitiously titled Troy Ave Versus 50 Cent, a marketing ploy that he used not to drum up beef but to stir excitement by capitalizing on Fif’s deafening street buzz back in 2003. On the tape, Troy evenly spit the tracks, pitting his songs against 50’s hits in an attempt to earn some of the G-Unit CEO’s fans. While clever, it wasn’t the work that most fans have come to know Troy for. His latest tape, Bricks in My Backpack 3: The Harry Powder Trilogy, blends unadulterated street-hop with the type of lyricism that hip-hop purists go crazy for.
Originally the term Bricks in My Backpack was a toss to the basketball shorts and backpacks that Troy used to don when hustling in the street. “In order to be inconspicuous to the law enforcement, we used to dress up like we were playing basketball,” the MC said.
Over the past two years, Troy Ave has seen his fanbase grow in unexpected circles. In addition to the streets, he earned the respect of the Internet and listeners who may typically respond to former Rawkus Records rappers like Talib Kweli or Mos Def. “As I started rapping more, it kinda transformed into something. The Internets embraced it so crazy. It’s like backpack rap, but then I’m talking about street stuff,” he said.
Though he is currently unsigned, Troy Ave is happy about his unique position in the rap game. “I’m the only rapper that’s merging the streets with the Internet,” he said.
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