Interview: Troy Ave Weighs In On Trinidad James’ ‘ATL Runs NY’ Rant


Last night, Atlanta rapper Trinidad James ruffled more than a few feathers with his impromptu speech about the state of New York hip-hop. He basically went on a 3-minute rant about how rappers in the Liberty State aren’t properly carrying the torch for the NY veterans that laid the ground work.

“I remember when New York ran this sh*t, dog. When Dipset was f*cking turned the f*ck up! We were in Atlanta like, “Oh my God, I have to wear my bandana on tilt like Juelz.” What the f*ck happened, dog? Us in the South, us ‘bammas, we just did our own thing. But now we run y’all, musically. That’s crazy!,” said Trinidad.

“I’m not trying to start nothing, but if you want to do something we can do something because I don’t give a f*ck. I’m just being honest with you. I looked up to New York music. But now every n*gga that’s really popping out of New York, you might as well say he’s from Atlanta. He’s from Atlanta. Y’all got n*ggas that interview that are more popping than n*ggas that are rapping.”

Well, VIBE needed to speak with one of the new Big Apple rappers to get perspective from an MC who is still trying to make sure New York is never disrespected in hip-hop. Read on to hear how Brooklyn native Troy Ave feels about Trinidad’s words.

VIBE: What are your thoughts on what Trinidad James had to say about Atlanta running New York rap last night?
Troy Ave: I’m the type of person that deals with facts. It depends on what he means by “runs” because if he’s talking about the music, nowadays music dictates the culture, and it’s ass backwards because of social media and information spreading so quickly. So now you can have a soft-ass rapper who seems cool to the masses but it’s really just corny. My culture dictates my music, not the other way around.

So if he was talking about “runs” in terms of Atlanta rap getting constant radio play and being heavy in New York clubs, then he’s got a valid point. A real nigga like myself, I’m gonna deal with facts. I’m not upset about that, but all I want to do is restore the feeling in this city. That’s why I named my album New York City. At a time, the Death Row and West Coast could have said they run rap, and they did! Until Biggie came out, and then Bad Boy was like, ‘Ok, we run rap now.’ There was a time when T-Pain was the only thing that you would hear on the radio, and then the whole group of Florida rappers had it on lock. But, Atlanta niggas been had it for a minute in terms of getting played everywhere.

To be clear: if Trinidad James meant “Atlanta runs New York” in terms of radio plays and in the club, then yes, I agree to some extent. If he’s talking about “Atlanta runs New York” like if he comes to the hood, he’ll be praised like a god? More than Troy Ave? Or any other New York rapper, whether it be Uncle Murda or Maino or niggas like that? Definitely not. He won’t get more love in the streets than we will. But if you want to sit at home and listen to the radio or hear what’s in the clubs, then he has a point.

In terms of NY not supporting it’s own artists, he probably doesn’t realize the support I’m getting now. My record isn’t getting played as much as “All Gold Everything” like it should be, and even though that’s not the case, it doesn’t mean I’m not getting support from New York.

Why don’t you think your music isn’t getting as many spins on radio as “All Gold Everything”?
I think because when “All Gold Everything” started to pick up, he was on the major label [Def Jam] so he had the machine behind him to get a marketing/promo budget, a radio budget and shit like that. They have the bigger relationships to put that stuff into place. It’s just like the Lady Gaga record getting mad play or the new Justin Timberlake.

A lot of times when you hear records from Atlanta breaking in New York, it’s because New York DJs go out of town and get gigs and they get overwhelmed by records that are popping down there. A lot of people go to Atlanta and have people down there, so they’re getting calls like ‘Yo, you heard this new record?’ Shit, that got popping like Rich Homie Quan’s “My Type of Way,” poppin’ so they start playing it up here.

But you gotta deal with the facts. [Trinidad] used to say that when he was growing up, him and his homies would rock the bandanas like Juelz Santana did, so back then New York was kinda running Atlanta rap, I would assume. What he said is based on facts. He’s got shows out here, while other artists aren’t even bubbling in their own town here. And I know that New York City: The Album is classic, and I’m charting on Billboard and I’m independent. It’s album of the year, and that’s not just my opinion, that’s everybody’s opinion. I’m putting on for the city. In a short time, I’m gonna be that nigga on top, and New York will be back where it’s supposed to be. Just like when Biggie came through and all those corny, Afrocentric raps were hot and then Biggie came with the street shit for New York and restored the feeling, and that’s what I’m doing. But now it’s not Afrocentric rap or West Coast rap, it’s Atlanta’s rap that has a chokehold on the game.

So do you think the blame lies more with the artists and the quality of the music, or the outlets that are responsible for bringing that music to larger audiences, like radio and websites and so-called “tastemakers”?

If you call yourself a real nigga, you gotta take the blame and put it on yourself, so I’m gonna say that it’s on the artist. I can’t say for independent artists like me, because when you’re independent you have a ceiling until you break through like I’m doing now, but once you’re on a major record label and you have a dope single or a dope sound, the label is gonna push that, and you’re right here in New York so they’re gonna lean on radio to play those records. It isn’t some sort of conspiracy to make New York rap play the back.

Any Atlanta rappers you fuck with musically?
I like a lot of songs from down there. I used to love Young Jeezy a lot because he talked that street shit and I could relate to it, regardless of where he’s from. I fuck with a lot of it, even “All Gold Everything” was a good song. But really all I’m fucking with is Troy Ave and BSB, which is Young Lito, King Sevin, and Avon Blocksdale. I’ve been working so hard on my album and I haven’t been listening to any other artists because I didn’t want other styles subconsciously affecting how I was rapping, like ‘Oh I like that song, let me make a song like that.’

Future has got some dope shit, that “Turn On The Lights” was a great record, but I’m not riding around bumping that shit in my car. I’m only playing Troy Ave and BSB shit.

Can you clarify what you meant when you said “Kendrick Lamar is just a weirdo rapper” on “New York City”?
Basically, when somebody acts different than what you’re used to… they’re weird. Kendrick Lamar wears shorts above his knees. I’m not trying to diss the nigga because I’m just speaking the facts. If someone said ‘Troy Ave is a rapper that drives a Benz. Troy Ave is a street rapper’ that’s true. And, you could say the same about Rick Ross, Jay-Z, and Biggie. There are a lot of niggas that are weirdos, that don’t mean there’s anything wrong with them being a weirdo or that they don’t make good music. It’s just the way Kendrick carries himself, he’s always wearing a hoodie, that’s some weirdo shit. If you seem shy, like a shy person to me is a fucking weirdo, so I’m not knocking him or trying to diss the nigga because that’s corny. I don’t diss people that I don’t know.

I was clarifying what he said about being the King of New York. I said it’s Big, Jay-Z, now Troy Ave here after. Kendrick Lamar is just a weirdo rapper, so he has nothing to do with being the King of New York. When he said that line, he was basically reiterating a Kurupt line [from “Calling Out Names”]. He was just being lyrical. He said that, so I decided to say some shit that was factual and would make sense. I been telling people I’m gonna be that nigga, and I always mean what I say. I don’t exaggerate and I don’t lie to be cool. I speak in facts. We have to have labels with shit. Street rap reigns supreme. Hipsters idolize street rappers.