Tag Archives: Troy

The Dame Dash Enlightenment

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“I’m the bad guy to the bad guys”

Dame Dash is defined differently depending on your age group and era. You may know him for playing his pivatol role in Roc-A-Fella records side-by-side with Hov, you may know him for verbally assaulting business executives, or you may be unfamiliar all together due to his nearly-decade-long absence from the spotlight. In recent times, Dame Dash has been reborn again, he’s become the symbol for modern-day independence, a business man with his mind on just that, his own business (Fuck being a chatty-patty).

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Dame’s recent campaign started in 2013. The first chapter of his resurgence was based in calling out people, who he labeled to be “culture vultures”. This term was directed at those, who he felt had no genuine interest in the culture, except for the dollar, who were pimping young artists with aspirations of being in hip hop. He accused people such as Lyor Cohen (Of Def Jam), Joie Manda (Of Interscope), among other higher ups in the music industry, of being white collar crooks. He accused Cohen of inventing the infamous 360 deal, which is the closest the music business can come to slavery. For those who may be unfamiliar with what a 360 deal actually is, it’s the music label offering finances for touring, marketing and promotion (etc.), in exchange for ownership of pretty much every aspect of an artist’s income (might even tell them how to dress and talk. no bullshit). Dame’s side of the story holds weight, due to the fact that he’s seen it from the inside and he’s personally witnessed the sheisty methods of the music industry and it’s most powerful pawns. He used his history and experience in the game, to fuel his jewel-filled rant. His argument made even more sense in the age of the internet. Considering the fact that the internet offers a straight to consumer business model, which essentially cuts out the middle-man. Point being, there is no reason to pay, in the way artist’s have been paying, for major label services. The major labels are slowly becoming a dinosaur, as Dame said, the executives will tell you differently but it’s only because that’s their means of survival. The anti-major label route is becoming more popular in this era, as you see many artists who flourished courtesy of an independent grind (I.e. Asap Rocky, Troy Ave). People like The Lox, 50 cent and Prodigy (of mobb deep), who’ve all been a part of major labels, have opted to go independent.This segwayed perfectly into his next chapter, which is what I call the “Be your own boss” segment.

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Since his exposure of “Culture vultures”, Dash has not at all been shy about publically denouncing dirty business people’s tactics on platforms like Sway in the morning, and YouTube channels belonging to the well-educated, Dr. Boyce Watkins, as well as the “Hip Hop motivation” channel. But the most loved, hated, impactful and controversial appearance was that on New York radio-station Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club. The Harlem native spoke candidly about the beauty of independence, building your own brand and putting your own money in the street. He attacked those willing to settle for anything less than ownership and working for yourself, even making examples out of those in the room such as the legendary DJ Envy. A key point in Dame’s perspective was “Hustle for your last name, not your first”, which can be interpreted as taking financial risks and stepping out of the comfort of a 9-to-5, so you have an opportunity to indulge in generational prosperity. His criticism’s towards the every day working man or woman, was that they were selfish for not taking these chances and not thinking enough about the future of their children. He also accused the average employee of being too comfortable in the security of a “job” & too submissive to another individual, claiming that calling someone else your “boss”, is like calling them your “daddy”. He sprinkled metaphors from his drug dealing days in comparison to the “legitimate” work world, to put things in perspective for those who may live like he did in his past. Of course, none of his argument has any substance, unless it is backed with evidence. Dame decorated the interview with boastful claims of his own endeavors, beyond music, into the world of movie production, fashion, art and even oil, demanding he be called a “Tycoon” and not a mogul.  The delivery of the argument may have seemed harsh and even offensive due to him poking fun at working people, such as most of us, but it’s a reality check.

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If anyone knows their history, Dame Dash’s approach was similar to that of Karl Marx. Marx is a well-renowned socialist, among many other accolades. Throughout the mid-to-late 1800s, Karl Marx bashed the system of capitalism and the idea of working for someone else. Marx stated that working in a pyramid stucture under a “boss” alienates you from yourself and molds you into someone who is working towards another person’s dream instead of your own. Marx stated that the workers will stay workers and the bosses will stay bosses, because they are both necessary in the economic system. Furthermore, Marx claimed that managers and bosses will sell you a dream of mobility, to keep you content with being a worker, but made it clear that you’re never really moving up in the world unless you gain ownership. This is Dame’s point, exactly.

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Like most awakenings in our history, his sentiments were polarizing. Some saw the message underneath Dame’s rough-around-the-edges persona. Opposition saw it as insulting and ignorant, saying “there’s nothing wrong with working for a boss and a normal job”, which is a subjective argument and really based on personality. Instagram lit up with snarky memes exaggerating Dash’s “self-reliant” point of view, some of which, were hysterical too. The point of this piece isn’t to bash critics of Dame Dash’s perspective, but more so to say, that Dame Dash wasn’t wrong either. He has accolades and business ventures to prove his point. The only gap in between the every-day working person (such as myself) and ownership is often a lack of belief in their own ability, or fear. The fear of taking the risks necessary and the haunting doubt that’s telling us: “what if you take these risks, and it still doesn’t work?”, this is a defining question and the answer varies, depending on the individual. If you love your job and your boss, more power to you, I respect it. At the same time, if you have aspirations to be your own boss, there is opportunity out here and likeminded people (such as myself) who you should surround yourself with.

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Dame’s argument may have been fueled by criticisms of others but the foundation was empowerment of the individual. The man wasn’t saying you “can’t” become your own boss, but enticingly saying that you “won’t” because you’re afraid too. He used the critiques and jagged-edged jokes as a vehicle of tough love to wake us up as a people. In my humble opinion, I don’t believe he was talking to everyone, he’s probably intelligent enough to know his message won’t resonate with an older generation whose long been settled into their job. I believe he was talking to the individuals with time on their side, who, in their heart want to work off their own interest,on their own schedule and are only opposed by self-doubt. Dame is pushing for a different model of business for the future and if you can’t see the diamond in the rough, that’s on you fam.

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Side-Bar: Harlem sticks together.

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The New, New York ’15 (Part 1): Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway: Manolo Rose

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Name: Manolo Rose

Stomping Grounds: Far Rockaway, Queens/ Marcy (Brooklyn)

Breakout year: 2015

Still, in 2015, there is confusion regarding what exactly “New York hip hop” actually is. Most have pigeon-holed the sub-genre into boom-bap, or anyone who raps like Nas or someone from Wu-Tang. My sentiment to those who assume such, is the same as it was last year, everything evolves and there are still dope artists coming from our city that sound nothing like what we’ve heard before. Such is the case with Bed-Stuy-Far Rock fusion of Manolo Rose.

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Manolo Rose is in the vein of New York artists like Onyx, Busta Rhymes & DMX. He’s not going to blow you away lyrically, but he uses his energy as his trademark. He has a knack for making memorable hooks, which is noted on his own songs as well as his often show-snatching appearances on other people’s records. The backdrop which perfectly compliments his riot-inducing vocals is usually supplied by Fame-school Slim, one half of the Fame School, an up-and-coming architect on the boards.  When Manolo came with his break-out single “Run Ricky Run” it was the most unorthodox, unconventional banger I’ve heard since Black Rob’s “Whoa”. The beat didn’t actually drop until well into the song and it was confusing DJs all throughout the Tri-state, who were trying to figure out how to work the record in the club. The concept was derived from classic Hood flicks like John Singleton’s “Boyz n tha Hood”, “Menace To Society”. “Juice” and “Harlem Knights”. He cleverly used the movies to define life lessons such as “keeping the grass cut so you can see the snakes come” and to “Never let a nigga get away with nothing”. My mind had trouble adapting to the song at first, but I felt it, and I knew it was something ground-breaking.

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With such an impact on a breakout single, it’s tough to say if we’ll ever see an artist again in the era of the one-hit-wonders, but he’s followed up strong. With records like “Fuck 12“, “Gun-Fu” and “Super-Flexin“, he continues to perpetuate the lane that he’s carving out for himself, the anthemic-through-the-roof energy New York city hip hop. He’s building both his brand and his buzz on songs with Harlem’s own Vado, Rowdy Rebel (Of GS9), Rico Love, and of course, the controversial collaboration on Troy Ave’s “All about the money”.

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As many have heard, the Troy Ave single was originally Manolo Rose’s “Dope man“, neither artist denies that fact. The concept, the hook and the production is all the same as the original, just with appearances from Troy Ave and BSB’s Young Lito. Though the transfer of the record was a bit jux-like, Manolo Rose kept it business and used it as an opportunity to market himself on a more established artist’s platform, even appearing in the video. He has since denounced any beef between him and Troy ave, charging it to the game, and enjoying the perks that came with the success of the record.

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Manolo Rose has grown out of the shadow of his mega-record “Run Ricky Run” and the controversy with Troy Ave, the Edgemere Projects native is also gaining notoriety outside of the hometown. He’s dropping his “Concrete Rose” EP today (June 2nd), set to have features from Vado, Chinx (Riot in Peace !), Dave East, and Cali’s own, Problem. He’s one of the artists that is both creative and daring enough to follow the beat of his own drum, without biting off of the biggest artists of the day or trying to sound like any of the City’s forefathers. It’s artists like Manolo Rose who push both the city and the culture forward, blurring the regional lines that dictate what a city should sound like. He’s just out here making music anyone, anywhere could wild-out too.

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Side-Bar: I gotta make it out to one of his shows on this “Concrete Rose” tour, anyone whose seen him perform his shit says he makes the records really come to life…

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Get Over It: The New, New York City (Part 2): No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn

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Name: Troy Ave

Stomping Grounds: Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Breakout year: 2012

Standout Project: “New York City:The Album” (2013)

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“Rubber grip or the plastic feel
This that Brooklyn shit, this is nothing new
This that safety off with that engine on
Mercedes Benz, good watch, scene above them all
How he got money when he ain’t have a job in so long?
This that hustler shit, that independent grind
That nautical sweat suit and white ones gold shine” (Troy Ave – “Classic Feel”)

Troy Ave got his name courtesy of the street in Crown Heights, Troy Avenue. Most recently you may have heard the Brooknam native on the hook of Vado’s “R.N.S.” off his latest installment of the Slime Flu mixtapes, or even on Fabolous’ “Only life I know” from the “Soul Tape II”. Troy Ave is known for chronicling his tales of a hustler, the only way a Brooklyn spitter could do, but he may also harmonize a little on his hooks. However, he’s not harmonizing in a “Marvin’s Room” type of way (Shout out to Drake though), he’s harmonizing in a 50 cent, early 2000’s mixtape type of way. In the mixtape circuit, he’s most known for his “Bricks In My Backpack” trilogy. The 3 mixtapes, showcased his potential more than anything else. The first two seemed like an artist who was just trying to find himself, and his lane. He caught some flack for the title of the second installment of “Bricks In My Backpack”, entitled “Powder to the people”. Certain figures in New York radio felt he was taking an empowering slogan “Power to the people”, and then turning it around to what destroyed so many communities. But what else do you expect from a young hustler from Brooklyn who dubbed himself “Harry  Powder”?.  It’s tough trying to be a successful rapper who attacks the game from the angle of being a hustler, because the image has been portrayed so much and you have to be innovative or just get wrote off as another “over-the-top street rapper”. But that’s what the man came from, and by the time the third installment of the series came about, the crown heights representative seemed to find his groove. Mid-Way through 2012, “Bricks In My Backpack 3: The Harry Powder Trilogy” found its way on to Complex’s “50 greatest albums of 2012 (so far)”, landing at number 40.

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Troy Ave Embodies the fly guy, 1980’s New York Hustler in his rhymes. The Alpos’, the Rich Porters’, The Fat Cats’ , with the jewels and the slick talk. You can tell that from the cover of his studio album debut “New York City: The Album”. He’s sporting the Jesus Piece, with a couple other chains I couldn’t afford, in front of a black Jeep Wrangler, giving off a “New Jack City” feel. On the cover, and almost everywhere you see Troy Ave, he’s endorsing Adidas in Run DMC fashion, with his soccer jerseys, T-Shirts and shell toes. Along with just speaking of being a hustler, he hustles in the industry as well. Troy Ave is on his independent grind, on his label “BSB Records”, and is building a brand of his own. He’s one of the only, who still gives a feeling of authenticity in his music. Anything he talks about having, and the lifestyle he talks about living, are both documented on his Instagram, to prove he’s not just rapping. Aside from separating himself from the fakes, he’s also stated his opposition towards today’s “weirdo” rappers (directly targeting Kanye West & Kendrick Lamar) and claims that the hip hop audience and artists alike, now-a-day’s glorifies the user, more than they celebrate the dealer, and even targets his fellow Brooklnites, The Flatbush Zombies as “weirdos” making music for drug abusers (Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn Way). He’s made it clear that his music is not for the wrist twisting that you could spot at the drop of any Young Chop or Mike Will Made it joint, and he’s not going to Future for the hottest hooks, not out of spite, but because he’s keeping it all the way New York, making a lane for his own city without eating off anyone else’s plate.

troy-ave-hot-box-freestyle(Troy Ave rocking the signature Soccer jersey)

His style really represents a New, New York sound, far from any type of “backpack” rap, though he does seem to get support from that crowd, as well. Troy Ave’s voice sounds like he’s always joking about something, but he’s doing anything but that. He has evolved from the less narrative, more simplistic punchlines of the “Bricks In My Backpack” series, to a full blown story teller from a past decorated in all the elements of the street life. He’s able to show his depth on tracks like “Regretful”, which may give you another look at the Brooklyn rapper, from the standpoint of emotional pain, without being sappy. He’s also capable of making records like “Hot Out”, to drop the windows or put the top back too during the New York City summers (Please come back). Just as diverse as his music, are the artist’s he’s jumped on tracks with. He’s collaborated with everyone from Pusha T, To 2 Chainz, to Nore. He get’s widespread respect from his piers of the current generation and before his time. He’s got mainstream appeal, with a smooth talking, New York City hustler feel, he’s definitely someone to look out for.

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Honorable Mention (From Brooklyn): Uncle Murda (or UM)

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