Once upon a time in a universe far, far away, HipHopDX used to host blogs. Through Meka, Brillyance, Aliya Ewing and others, readers got unfiltered opinions on the most current topics in and beyond Hip Hop. After a few years, a couple redesigns and the collective vision of three different Editors-In-Chief, blogs are back. Well, sort of. Since our blog section went the way of two-way pagers and physical mixtapes, Twitter, Instagram and Ustream have further accelerated the pace of current events in Hip Hop. Rappers beef with each other 140 characters at a time, entire mixtapes (and their associated artwork) can be released via Instagram, and sometimes these events require a rapid reaction.
As such, we’re reserving this space for a weekly reaction to Hip Hop’s current events. Or whatever else we deem worthy. And the “we,” in question is the entire DX Staff. Aside from tackling stray topics, we may invite artists and other personalities in Hip Hop to join the conversation. Without further delay, here’s this week’s “Stray Shots.”
Who Won The Troy Ave & Joey Bada$$ Beef This Week
Justin Hunte [DX Editor-In-Chief]: Back at it again this week, dissecting the, in my opinion, an unfortunate clash between Joey Bada$$ and Troy Ave. Earlier this week, Ave released visuals for his Joey Bada$$ diss, “Bada$$.” Many argued that the track went too far because Ave disrespected deceased Pro Era member, Capital Steez, who committed suicide in 2012. The Troy Ave gives one of the most insightful interviews you’ll see.
Sparkle Pratt [DX Media Coordinator]: His interview was good.
Justin: He’s dope, he drops math. I think there’s some truth to what he talks about. He is that New York, mixtape, out-the-trunk rapper. He’s the guy on the corner telling people this is my mixtape until he gets a car and hustling outside the spot or club. He’s not an Internet favorite at all. People hate his guts on the Internet. All I see is whether it’s our Fat Joe interview this week where he talked about having a truce with both of them or the Five Fingers Of Death Freestyle that we put up or reactions on the Twitter feed, everyone on the Internet isn’t on Troy Ave’s side. I feel like everything that’s happened to Troy Ave, that’s been the case. No one on the Internet has ever liked Troy Ave. I’ve never seen an Internet post or comment section that’s been like favorable toward him. How does someone like him continue to make progress if no one likes you on the Internet?
Ural Garrett [Senior Features Writer]: Troy Ave has a very street aesthetic that caters to a very specific crowd. There are people who don’t live their lives on the internet.
Sparkle: A lot of people only listen to mainstream music on the radio. If I ask my best friend who Troy Ave or Joey Bada$$ is….
Justin: They wouldn’t know.
Sparkle: I think Troy is a little above the people who only listen to underground music. He’s a little above that so he’s not in the Joey Bada$$ lane. Most of Joey’s fans are like, “I only listen to real shit.”
Justin: I don’t understand it. Troy Ave to me is like an old 50 Cent.
Sparkle: All he does is talk shit.
Trent Clark [Managing Editor]: His musical output isn’t up to par though. What did you guys give Major Without a Deal? Like a 2.5? He makes average music. He’s a good rapper and obviously believes in himself, but he really needs to step up his artistic game. Actually, this might help. Beef actually helps artists get better. You have to come correct and sit back in your corner. You know everybody is going to listen to this. If you didn’t have fans before, they’re going to check into your beef. If you’re not up to snuff or going in for the kill, then you’re really screwed.
Justin: Hey Soren, do you believe what Fat Joe said when he said beef didn’t make him any money? All those beefs he had in the 2000s never helped him out. That’s what he said.
Soren[News Editor]: I would disagree because beef brings you attention positive or negative. I think that Fat Joe was different because he was largely at beef with the biggest rappers at the time. That really hurt him through the back channels of the industry where he might have gotten blackballed or shut down which doesn’t happen as much than when it’s on a smaller scale like a Troy Ave or Joey Bada$$. That’s not going to happen. You have to remember, Fat Joe called Jay Z, “Gay Z” for a long time and beefing with 50 Cent for a long time. He’s beefing with the biggest dudes at the time which wouldn’t be beneficial to him. I think it gives him respect and clout in the streets.
Trent: Even if you look at Meek Mill and Drake, beefs can be like a peanut gallery and can get lopsided, but those fans go the extra mile because they might hate the artist that the artist is beefing with. If people just hate Drake, they didn’t care if Meek Mill was getting washed. They’re going to ride for Meek Mill and big him up and keep fueling him. It’s the same with the Troy Ave thing. He’s not very popular on the Internet, but there are people on the Internet who believe Joey Bada$$ is audio Nyquil who puts you to sleep as soon as he gets on the track.
Justin: This is the first time, I’ve seen Joey Bada$$ have a real enemy.
Trent: This is what makes everything an interesting conflict because you have one of the most nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
Soren: On top of that, he was the latest guy ordained as bringing New York back and representing the 90s aesthetic more than anyone recently. That endeared him to a whole lot of people, especially in New York who could bring back “real Hip Hop.”
Ural: In the small gains he’s made in mainstream pop culture like the Malia Obama having that picture of her wearing a Pro Era T-shirt. You had an Obama as a possible fan.
Justin: Kelli and I had lunch with Jonny Shipes and we asked him about how that even happened.
Ural:Could Troy Ave pull that off?
Trent: I think that’s unfair. That’s lightning in a bottle.
Justin: I haven’t seen Jay Z do that, Nas do that, Eminem do that. I haven’t seen Kendrick do that. I’ve seen Obama invite Kendrick to the White House. I haven’t seen Sasha Obama rock a Kendrick shirt. I don’t think that’s fair to Troy Ave. I do like this “Bad Ass” though. It’s in my head like “Nobody cares.” Is it a bad song?
Ural: I think it’s him trying to take the “Back to Back” route.
Sparkle: That’s exactly what he’s doing. He said, “I’m going to get this played at the club and you’re going to be mad.” It’s like no Troy.
Ural: And let’s just say hypothetically it did get heavy rotation at a club. How many people who are Joey Bada$$ fans go to the same club someone who listens to Troy Ave would go?
Sparkle: They weren’t playing Meek were they?
Trent: The club is how Meek built his fanbase. Meek Mill ran the clubs before the Drake shit. “Ima Boss,” “House Party.”
Kelli Jones [Director, Sales & Marketing]: And the Dreams & Nightmares “Intro.”
Ural: Yeah strippers go nuts to that track when that intro comes on.
Justin: Why does Troy Ave have such a hard time getting Internet support?
Trent: Cockiness; just straight up. He oversells his product. He’s not terrible, but when you come out and Babe Ruth your microphone to the fences and underperform and underwhelm, you’re going to get a heavy hand of Internet critics. It is what it is. He spoke up like he was going to make a Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and that didn’t happen so everyone treated him like Ja Rule.
Justin: What do you think Ural?
Ural: It’s weird. It’s weird because it starts with determining who is in each other’s demographic. I don’t know anybody who is actually a Troy Ave fan not associated with the industry.
Justin: Do you know anyone who’s a Joey Bada$$ fan?
Ural: The only Joey Bada$$ fans I know are like college age or those who go to Low End Theory every Wednesday religiously. Might possibly be a former Odd Future fan. Spends like $300 every week on Fairfax. For Troy Ave, I don’t get it, but I do in terms of street feel that’s outside of the Internet. The question is, should we consider Troy Ave, the middle or lower tier New York rapper like a Maino or Uncle Murda?
Kelli: That sounds like his eventual path. I still ask who Maino is. Who is Maino?
Ural: Hey, “Hi Hater” was a hit.
Justin: Hey Monica, did you listen to the Troy Ave track?
Monica [Social Media]: Uh, no.
Justin: Did you listen to Joey Bada$$’s “Five Fingers Of Death Freestyle?”
Monica Uh, yeah.
Justin: So from your perspective, why did you decide to listen to Joey Bada$$, but not Troy Ave?
Monica: I don’t know, I just feel like there’s nothing defining about Troy Ave to me. I feel like Joey Bada$$ has a very particular fan.
Sparkle: What does the average Troy Ave fan look like?
Justin: I was at Summer Jam. He rocked the junior stage or whatever the equivalent is. He was the main guy on that stage. Then he came out after the headliners. Cats rock with him. He’s the quintessential hot in the streets rapper. Before the streets were the internet. You can go to a barbershop in certain cities and people are like, “I fuck with Troy Ave.”
Trent: Again, the issue with that is, he earned that crown from hustling. It’s not about how good your music is. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, 50 Cent did it. His mixtapes were crazy. Troy’s mixtapes aren’t crazy. They’re good. Even good enough, but it’s all about selling yourself.
Justin: We’re saying 50 Cent’s mixtapes were the shit back then. That was also a time where you had to rap good to be even known so everybody was kind-of the shit back then. Is Troy Ave’s product now worst than the gap between the average rapper now and the superstar rapper?
Ural: That’s a weird question because outside of the atomic bombs in disses and shit talking 50 Cent had, he still had hits like “In Da Club.”
Trent: Troy Ave tried that with “Doo Doo.”
Ural: “Doo Doo” wasn’t a club song.
Trent: But, it was for radio.
Soren: 50 Cent had a slew of hit songs going back as far as “Wanksta.”
Justin: I don’t think Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is fair. Guy hooks up with Dr. Dre and we’re supposed to act like O.K. That’s a bit out an outline. You have Power of the Dollar and etc. If you look at 1998, 50 Cent is probably my 44th favorite rapper. He’s way down the list in 1997. I think of 50 Cent as the guy who has the CDs in the barbershop. I think of him as a similar fashion. Not saying that he’s better or worse to Troy Ave, but it wasn’t forward thinking or innovative for his peers. In 1998, would you pick up a DMX or 50 Cent CD?
Ural: The other thing is that Troy Ave doesn’t have much of an interesting story like 50 Cent.
Justin: It’s 50 Cent’s story. He just didn’t get shot nine times.
Trent: That did it.
Ural: Exactly, he got shot nine times, gets dropped from Columbia and comes back and had a story. Troy Ave’s presentation is just like here’s my music.
Soren: There was a mythology built around 50 Cent.
Justin: It’s all after he got shot.
Ural: That’s all you need though.
Justin: So that’s what we need to do? Troy Ave needs to get shot?
Kelli: So he’ll do better if he gets shot?
Sparkle Nobody is going to give any shits if that man got shot. People are going to be like dang, that’s sad. Joey Bada$$ fans are going to be like, “He’s not dead?”
Ural: They’ll probably be a Pray For Troy Ave hashtag.
Justin: I like Troy Ave, I like the way he thinks, his songs and his attitude.
Kelli: You only get in interviews, not in his songs.
Justin: Even on “Badass,” he’s doing the math. Those were always the best songs on the 90s. At the end of “Badass,” he’s literally doing the math. He breaks down on how the points go!
Sparkle: We’re giving him points for knowing how to count?
Justin: Yeah, look at Foxy Brown on The Firm.
Kelli: That math was wrong.
Justin: Her math was terribly wrong. Her math was wrong and she got props.
Justin: Jay Z had his math joint. “40 albums in 10 years,” that was the diss version and the other one came the other way “when he was like one million, two million, three million.” When rappers start counting, we like them. Rakim put seven emcees and had them in line. Math is good on rap. Rap works well with math. There’s math everywhere in rap. As soon as you break out the math, it’s good. I like “Badass” I like this Troy Ave. I like what Joey Bada$$ said a lot more. I hate how not clean he was in how he said it. That’s the irony when I see this battle. These are two popular rappers from Brooklyn New York, from the same neighborhood. I hate the fact that they’re getting at each other, but Joey Bada$$ had an opportunity to really show his lyrical ability, freestyling and flow. At times, it felt as if he was trying to remember his rhymes. It was definitely clever and wasn’t delivered the way I think about “Supa Ugly.” He left a lot on the table and really could have put it down. I look at the internet and see everything one sided and I’m thinking about the fact that Joey Bada$$ is the one with all the fans on the internet. So really, that whole thing took place in Joey Bada$$’s neighborhood. It’s hard to even gage about how people feel about the “Badass.” There are five DJs already ready to drop “Badass” if they haven’t already because he does know those DJs in that city.
Trent: Has Joey Bada$$ come back with a proper response?
Justin: I think so. That’s good enough for what Joey Bada$$ needs to do. Joey Bada$$ isn’t necessarily worried about the same audience. There’s a ten-year gap between the two of them anyway. Troy Ave is like 31 and Joey Bada$$ is like 21. They’re not even hanging out in the same spots.
Ural: Even going back to Troy Ave’s thing with calling Joey Bada$$ a weirdo as if it’s a bad thing in today’s space.
Kelli: I don’t think it is.
Ural: He once called Kendrick a weirdo and clearly if that’s a bad thing to be, then what the hell is good?
Justin: That’s a great point. So let’s wrap this up right quick and go around the whole room. So Kelli, who do you think won this week, Joey Bada$$ or Troy Ave?
Kelli: I think Joey won. Matter fact, has anyone thought that this whole thing might be staged?
Sparkle: The Capital Steez thing wasn’t staged.
Ural: I don’t think they would go that far if it was staged.
Trent: Everybody lost, even the Knicks and Nets. Nobody made the playoffs.
Kelli: All of Brooklyn.
Trent: I say that because of all of their responses. The Troy Ave joint is cool and sadly, that might be the best he can do. Joey Bada$$ didn’t feel as if he needed to create a real record like a “Supa Ugly” or “Ether.” He doesn’t take Troy Ave that serious to do that.
Justin: That “Destroy Average Rappers” line was like wooo.
Trent: I don’t think it’s a historic battle. A footnote, but not historic. There are no winners.
Soren: I’m going with Joey Bada$$ as well because he has better material and lyrics. Better everything basically.
Sparkle: R. Kelly hands down.
Justin: Gotta love the new school predators.
Sparkle: We didn’t have to go there. I’d say Joey.
Ural: I think both won. They’re two completely different demographics. It’s like if everyone here is arguing over different types of chicken dishes at a restaurant and all I want is fish. Like you said “Badass” might get play in several clubs and they’re going to like it, but nine-times-out-of-ten, the average Joey Bada$$ fan probably isn’t old enough to get into the clubs that Troy Ave is going to get played in any way. On the flipside, the same Joey Bada$$ fans are going to feel energized at the mere fact that he even tried to go at someone street like Troy Ave. Both of them won because they went at each other and didn’t seem as one-sided as Meek and Drake. It seemed like a cool sparring match.
Justin: They both showed up with songs and rapped.
Ural: At the bare minimum, they did that which I can commend them both. What that did was satisfy each other’s core fanbase. Both of them won.
Justin: That’s not a bad breakdown. I’m going to go with Troy Ave because I expect more from Joey Bada$$. I think his bars were dope, this is his playground and suppose to be the new 90s aesthetic emcee. I don’t think Nas or the other emcees he’s compared to, even though he doesn’t like to be, they don’t stutter as much as he does on that Five Fingers Of Death Freestyle. That was not a clean freestyle. Maybe they threw on the wrong beat or something. He requested beats that a DJ didn’t play. At the end of the week, I’m still walking down the street like, “Nobody cares.” And, he did the math on the track and I like tracks with math in it.