Troy Ave is supposedly the next big rapper from New York, but there is no evidence or hints at this potential on “Major Without A Deal”, Troy’s debut LP. It delivers everything you expect from a street rapper trying to sell records, but much of this is exactly why New York has been floundering for over five years in the Hip-Hop doldrums. Production is predictable, and the formula/structure more so. The artwork itself feels like a checklist of items that are necessary to market a credible rapper. There’s the obligatory pose with an expensive car, adornment of pricey jewellery and the inspired marketing decision to implement the image of a pistol in to the name of the album. The reverse has Troy flashing some cash, in the same way a magician offers a participant a card to pick – except every dollar bill here is forgettable dross.
The presence of Fat Joe and Cam’ron on the first two tracks set the scene for what is evidently an album that’s past its prime before it even gets going. Quoting Master P on “I’m Bout It” and features from 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Jadakiss, Fabolous and Rick Ross lend this album a “major” feel, and presumably a hefty bunch of appearance fees too. Much has been written about Troy Ave’s first week sales, which seem to justify whether an album is deemed a success – there’s no room for slow-burners in Hip-Hop these days. Twitter was lit up when it was leaked that only 30 hard copies were sold in the first week, but this was later cleared up and thrown in with over 4,000 copies (mostly digital). For an album with icons on the tracklisting, this could look like a flop of large proportions. Considering much of what Troy talks about on his debut is based around how much money he has, it’s natural to judge “Major Without a Deal” on its sales.
The real reason this album is disappointing is because Troy Ave is completely unremarkable as an emcee. He’s a hollow rapper with no unique trait or style. He drifts through songs such as “Love You/How I’m On It” and “Young King” with no real concept of flow or knowing when to change tone. “Do Me No Favors” does Troy no favors, with a hook sung in the style of a pre-puberty teenage boy. It’s bad. Lazy hooks are a regular occurrence throughout the album, meaning that verses are tied together through slurred words rather than snappy choruses. Yet, the production is strong enough as a platform for a dope emcee to weave their words on. “Doo Doo” and “Bang Bang” are bangers and are let down by the forgettable verses, although the former is a track that has potential to be a “Hey Ma” style single. Other than that though, it’s a hard sell.
“It can’t be that bad, can it?” Perhaps my expectations were too high given the hype surrounding Troy Ave (or Troy Average as the Internet has coined) but if you can live without throwaway verses from the likes of Fiddy and Fab, and a song-stealing appearance from Snoop Dogg on “Anytime”, you’re not missing much. They should have just called this “Major Disappointment, What’s the Deal?”.