Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” Brooklyn rapper Troy Ave makes his debut appearance to discuss his music career, past drama, and his upcoming trial. Hailing from Crown Heights, Troy amassed a considerable following with critically acclaimed mixtapes such as his Bricks In My Backpack series, as well as projects like New York City: The Album. However, despite his growing buzz and star potential, a string of beefs and controversy turned him into a polarizing figure, overshadowing his growing list of accolades. Things came to a head on May 26, 2016 when the BSB rapper was arrested for attempted murder and illegal weapon possession for shooting at a Irving Plaza, where four people were shot, including his bodyguard, who died. Released on bail later that year, Troy has continued to release new music and go against the grain while awaiting trial, a testament to his defiant attitude and work ethic.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Troy Ave episode of “Drink Champs.” Take a look at them below.
1. How He First Got Into The Rap Game
Unbeknownst to many fans, Troy Ave’s tenure in the music stretches back further than many of his peers, as the rapper was once on the brink of stardom after coming under the wing of an industry veteran. “I took half my bread, invested in myself and then Butch [Lewis] and ‘em got my shit on BET,” he explains. “And then, that gave me a little buzz. So after [that], we just parted ways or whatever, but he kept on mentoring me. The door was always open or whatever. And then, that’s when I was like, ‘Fuck that, this rap shit ain’t really doing what it’s [supposed to be] doing and that’s when I went from projects like Troy Ave vs. 50 Cent, Dipset vs. 50 Cent, and that’s when the shit changed to projects like I’m In Traffic, Bricks In My Backpack because at that time, I started really hustling.”
2. The Inspiration Behind Bricks In My Backpack
One tidbit Troy shares during the interview is how reality imitated life when it came to the title of his breakout mixtape series Bricks In My Backpack. “When I used to be going out of town I would try to think, like, ‘How can I not get fucking pinched?” he recalls. “So I was like, ‘Aight,’ I would have different little get-ups, one of my get-ups was I would come through with a messenger bag, a Swiss Army messenger bag. And I’d have a laptop and a button-up shirt and I’d be walking through Grand Central with my laptop, like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m just a black guy that goes to school somewhere. But meanwhile, I got a bird in the messenger bag. And then the second one, I used to come through with the slippers and the basketball shorts, that’s where “ball player swag” came from. A lot of people wasn’t rocking no Jordans with the Jordan slippers — at least in New York. So then, I used to come through like that with a basketball and a backpack looking like I’m just a baller playing AAU. But meanwhile, I had a bird in the backpack. So, after that developing and music started changing, by the grace of God, I ain’t go to jail. Bricks In My Backpack went big, it took me until part three to get recognized, and that’s when I dropped Bricks In My Backpack 3 and everybody was fucking with it.”
3. On Why He Gets So Much Hate
While Troy Ave’s fanbase is widespread for an independent artist, he’s one of the most antagonized rappers in the game, particularly in the realm of social media. When asked about the backlash he’s received, he chalks it up to being misunderstood. “I just feel like I went against the grain, but I went against the grain ‘cause I had to,” he says. “It was either that or I wasn’t gonna eat or I was gonna hustle, and then just be in jail and be a nigga who had some potentially, and then ended up nowhere. So, I went against the grain and Nas said it best, “People hate what they don’t understand.’ If everyone would’ve came in and did shit like me after I came in... the first nigga is always gonna get shot, period. You bust open the door, you’re gonna get hit. So, if everyone came in and did how I did, like, ‘Fuck these deals, that ain’t enough bread. Yo, we gonna be independent. We still gonna have people pumping our shit, we just gonna work harder,’ then that shit would’ve shifted the game.”
4. His Reaction To The “Weirdo Rapper” Controversy
One of the bigger controversies of Troy’s career came during the aftermath of his “weirdo rappers” comment regarding Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. However, the rapper took out the time to clarify those comments during his time with N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN. “They asked me the question, like, ‘Who would I consider weirdo rappers?’ Ave explains. “And I’m like, ‘What the fuck?’ I don’t got no media training, I don’t got none of this shit. I’m just like, ‘Yo, this is who I consider weirdo rappers, but that don’t mean I don’t fuck wit them. It’s like, who you consider a fucking dope rapper or a gangsta rapper. When pressed for a concrete definition of what constitutes a “weirdo rapper,” Troy is non-committal, offering an analogy instead. “I mean, at the time, it was different,” he says. “Because now, if you say, ‘Yo, what’s the definition of a skinny nigga,’ right? Everybody 500 lbs. If you’re 300 lbs, you’re a skinny nigga, real shit. But it’s like, ‘What’s your definition?’ You be outnumbered by fake niggas and different shit. So, now it be like, ‘Damn, I’m the weirdo.’ I’m the weirdo for being a man of my word. I’m the weirdo for putting on for my niggas, for having loyalty.”
5. On The Possibility of Him Signing With Roc Nation
During the course of the interview, the artist extended a few olive branches in a sign of maturity, including one to Roc Nation, which the unabashed dope boy says he’s open to working with in the future. “As far as that, you gotta remember, I always say who my motivations and shit [were] coming out. And then JAY-Z was of course was one of my motivations. I got four or five different businesses, and that’s just with me working and grinding. That ain’t by accident, that’s by seeing motherfuckers trail-blaze before me, like, ‘You can do this, you can do that.’ So, if they came to me with a situation, of course, I would definitely entertain it.”
6. The Story Behind His Love For Mink Coats
Longtime fans of Troy are well aware of his love for lavish mink coats, which he has worn on multiple album covers and during live performances. The rapper attributes his love for furs to his mother, who was once seen wearing a mink coat alongside his father during one of those aforementioned performances. “As they should and I ain’t even buy my moms that mink at that time,” Troy says in response to N.O.R.E.’s sighting. “She was taking me to buy minks since I was young, I bought her minks after. Real shit, this no bragging shit. Constantine Furs, 29th Street [between] 7th and 8th Avenue. Constantine Furs, he still makes my minks to this day. He always says, ‘I know Troy since he was five and six.’ He makes the best furs, all kinds. He’s Greek.”
7. On Being Labeled A Snitch
The most serious topic of conversation during Troy’s interview was the speculation behind whether he’ll testify against media personality Taxstone during his rival’s upcoming murder trial. The rapper gave some insight into his plans, while also taking the time to address the prospect of him being labeled a snitch, as a result of his testimony. “My question is, ‘How you gonna snitch on something that’s on the internet?” he asks. “How you gonna snitch on something that’s on camera? How you gonna snitch on something that you copped out to? You copped out to! If fucking Troy Ave is charged, if I’m charged with spilling liquor on his shirt. White shirt, spilled the liquor on his shirt. But then, you come in and say, ‘Wait, Troy Ave brought that liquor in. But, they say, ‘No, your DNA is on the fucking cork, nigga. You popped the bottle.’ ’Alright...alright, well I cop out, I did it.’ Well, if you brought the motherfucker liquor in and all that shit, Troy Ave spilled the liquor on that man shirt? How? You copped out already. You already told on yourself.”
8. His Thoughts On Tekashi 6ix9ine’s Testimony
In light of his own legal troubles, the MC was asked to give his thoughts on Tekashi 6ix9ine’s decision to testify against the Nine Trey Bloods. Troy points to the honor code of gang culture as to why he finds fault with his fellow Brooklyn artist’s cooperation. “I would say that the way I was taught, the way I was raised as the streets is you never tell on the gang. You’re with the gang, period. Everything that comes with it — violence, treachery, destruction — that all comes with the gang. I don’t care if a nigga put a bullet in your head, in your chest, nigga, [if] you live, you don’t tell on the gang.”
9. On Getting The Opportunity To Work With His Favorite Rappers
As one of the more prominent torchbearers for rap out of New York City, Troy was able to collaborate with many other artists of the five boroughs, a handful of which were among his biggest musical inspirations. “You was on New York City: The Album, that [was] followed up by Major Without A Deal,” he explains to N.O.R.E. “I did songs with everybody I ever wanted to do a song with in my life. Anybody that inspired me to rap growing up. I did a song with them on those two albums except for JAY-Z and Biggie. And 2Pac, obviously.”