EXCLUSIVE: Troy Ave On Taxstone, 50 Cent & Upcoming Trial Over Irving Plaza Shootout
Troy Ave might be one of the most controversial rappers to date. But through each battle and each adversity, he comes out even stronger.
The Brooklyn rapper saw much success with his hit single “She Belongs To The Game” with The Game, but even the accolades weren’t enough to keep him afloat.
The media was quick to judge when the “2 Legit 2 Quit” rapper was involved in a 2016 shooting at Irving Plaza, a deadly encounter which left four injured including Troy.
An altercation in a green room with popular podcaster Taxstone resulted in the loss of his longtime friend and bodyguard Ronald "Banga" McPhatter, who was struck by a bullet and killed during the fight.
And still, amidst all the accusations, rap beef, and social media trolling, the 33-year-old remains positive as ever before.
His self-made, self-paid mentality does not go unnoticed, as someone who came from the gutta of Brooklyn and through hard work, dedication, and faith in God turned himself into a success story.
AllHipHop: How’d the collab with “Action Bronson” come about on “Wheelin’ and Dealin’”?
Troy Ave: By the time I started rapping, Action was actually already doing his thing. Doing shows. I’m like “yo he’s dope.” We had a similar sound, East Coast/Wu-Tang whatever and I had a sound like 50 Cent. We’re both real East Coast kids so I wanted to collab with him. We just vibed. We smoked a bunch of blunts, we kicked it. We ate food. Shout out to Meyhem Lauren, that’s my guy too. We just did it, it was genuine.
AllHipHop: You just dropped “Hold Me Down.” Is that about any particular lady?
Troy Ave: Yeah it kind of is. It’s a fusion of different women into one, but I’m a nice guy. I’m not a dirty dog or anything. I treat women good, I’m honest and respectful. I just like variety sometimes. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, I ain’t married or tied down. It’s about a bunch of different women who make you do that one thing, they hold you down.
AllHipHop: Tell us about this new album you've been teasing.
Troy Ave: Man this new joint, I think I’ma call it God is Great, Paper Straight. Since I’m independent, I always gotta come up with different strategies and different ideas about how to push my music. Then, of course, I’m spending my own money on marketing promo. I’m constantly trying to evolve with it. Every time I put out a project, I basically give myself a record deal. If I’m about to drop a project, here’s my budget. I’ma spend $150,000 and put out my project: produce it, promote it, everything. I do that every time.
AllHipHop: Are you with EMPIRE?
Troy Ave: EMPIRE’s my distributor, shout out to them. I always do my own stuff. Instead of me putting $150,000 into a project where it’s gonna be 7 or 8 songs, how about I just concentrate that money into one record? I started with that idea then my fans were like “yo bro we need an album.” They just kept hitting me. The girls, they know I always drop something around summer. They’re like “what is this s##t, what are you doing? This is not cool.” I’m like “alright I’ll drop a project, I’ll give in.”
Really it was a picture. My boy Big Kev was doing the photography behind the scenes shooting the “Money Ova Here” video. We shot it in my backyard at my house, it was some hundred dollar bills in the pool. He caught this one epic shot of the money in the water, I’m like “yo that’s fire!” I put up a post like “if y’all give me a title to this, I’ll put out a project.” They gave me a bunch of dope titles, so I’ma put out a project.
AllHipHop: Any guests or producers to reveal?
Troy Ave: I don’t want to reveal it yet, because you know how this rap thing is. I’m definitely doing some features, that’s a fact. I’m talking to my guy, we just had a big meeting in Vegas.
AllHipHop: How often do you record since you're looking at some prison time?
Troy Ave: S##t I ain’t gon’ front, I got studios at all my cribs that I live at. Every time I’m around — I might do more features than anything. But with projects, you know how artists record 50 songs then pick the best 12 or 16 for an album? I like to tailor-make my s##t. I’m tailor-making the album, so I don’t record that often. At the same time, it don’t take me that long to record a project because I’m talking about my real life.
That’s how you start off a verse, it’s real-life s##t. It’s not really that hard if you got the approach and you know what you’re doing. If you tryna make up a bunch of s##t, then you gotta record a lot, but I’m just talking about my life. I’m definitely tryna put out mad albums in case I do gotta go to jail, so my s##t can be rocking. I can still keep making that money.
AllHipHop: You appear to be very active business-wise outside of music. What has been your most lucrative line of business outside of entertainment?
Troy Ave: Outside of entertainment, I’ma say real estate. Now this clothing GIGPS, God Is Great Paper $traight clothing has been very lucrative. Now with the real estate, I don’t flip houses. I buy them, keep them and rent them out. I rent them out for lower than market value so people who are less fortunate can afford them, so I look out for them. I wouldn’t say it’s lucrative, but it’s having more assets so in the future, your kids can just collect the rent and be landlords.
AllHipHop: How many properties do you have?
Troy Ave: I have 11 now. I got all of ‘em.
AllHipHop: How did you educate yourself on how to do this and make money?
Troy Ave: F##king listening. I pick up information from everywhere, then I filter it out. Somebody might be talking some bulls##t you don’t want to hear, but it might be one piece of information in there you might want to get. I’ll take that. Growing up, I remember us renting apartments. I remember doing math like “damn, how much is this?” My moms, we bought our first house. I remember the tenants paying a certain amount for rent. She would give the tenants a discount, so that rolled over to me. I’m like wait so you can have a 3-family house for a million dollars, and you can charge $3,500 for rent on each apartment? That’s $7000. If your mortgage is only $10,000, your s##t is mostly paid for. You living for damn near free.
I just started asking questions. Look on YouTube, the internet. Sometimes, people be hating. Everybody not gonna be like Troy Ave. Everybody ain’t gonna wanna share information. Some people are greedy, they just wanna have their own success. I want everybody to be successful as long as you’re willing to work hard. I just looked for info, filtered out what’s garbage and what’s good.
AllHipHop: How is your health since being shot?
Troy Ave: I’ll still get headaches and s##t sometimes because I got shot in my head. But no crazy s##t, it’s whatever. The bullet is still in my head, you can feel it. [guides hand to head] It’s in there, that’s the bullet you touching. I got one in my back too, that’s when I got shot in my forearm on Christmas.
But my leg be hurting from that whole Irving Plaza s##t. I can’t really run, jogging be hard. I can’t bust the dope dance moves in my videos like I used to. It’s all good though, I just adapted. I ain’t trippin’.
AllHipHop: I was gonna ask, is your right leg functioning yet?
Troy Ave: Nah it’s not functioning like that, but it’s functioning good enough. Only I would know, it’s internal pain and I’m really a strong person. I’m not with the weak s##t. I could have been worse. I could have had no pain and been dead, or I could have had pain and been broke. f##k it, it comes with the money.
AllHipHop: When’s the trial for the shooting?
Troy Ave: I go to court on September 13th. [sighs] I just came back from court, so we gon’ see.
AllHipHop: You're planning to argue self-defense?
Troy Ave: S##t, everybody knows what happened. It ain’t even nothing to argue. It’s right there, the proof is in the pudding. The proof is in black and white paperwork, in the FBI paperwork. I don’t even have to argue anything, it’s there. They see that it’s not my gun, I never brought no gun in the club. DNA evidence proves that, so where’d I get it from?
I got it from the assailant [Taxstone]. I didn’t make this up, we didn’t splice the genetics on the one gun. They should just free Troy Ave. If this were to happen somewhere else, I would have been a hero. Because if you look at it, I saved mad people from getting shot. There’s three other victims, more people could have died. If I didn’t do what I did, fought the gun away and wrestled — it’s fight or flight. I chose to fight.
I went head-on with a gunman and by the grace of God, took the gun out his hand. So why am I not looked at as a hero? Why am I not praised like “wow this guy did something heroic.”
Instead, the media paints you like he’s coming in the club shooting all crazy. That’s not true, I was coming out of a room. I was already in the club, I was supposed to be there. I was the special invited guest to perform, but they made it look like I just came in doing s##t.
Bad news travels faster than good news. It’ll all work out in the end. You gotta go through some s##t to get to some s##t. I’m a strong believer in God. I literally be wearing my faith on my back. God puts his toughest soldiers through the hardest s##t, that’s what I’m going through. It’s cool, God is great and my paper straight.
AllHipHop: How have you been preparing mentally if you are found guilty?
Troy Ave: I haven’t. I’ve been prepared my whole life for whatever comes towards me because I’m built like that. I’m built strong. You can see in my actions I’m built strong. When I came up out of NY, NY was dead. People would always tell me no, NY is dead. We ain’t rockin’ with no music out there. No, unless you go down to Atlanta and you can blow up like that. “Independent? What? How you gonna be independent?”
I’m the only artist to ever have a Gold record independently out of NY, the first and only one. I’m already built for anything that’s thrown at me. It doesn’t matter. If someone was to come in this room and start firing right now, we gon’ be alright. [chuckles] I get goddamn almost assassinated in a foreign car in Brooklyn on Christmas.
It’s certain things you built for. I’m built for renting apartments to owning 11 homes. I’m just built for strong s##t. It ain’t just happened, it’s overtime. You gotta have willpower, most people don’t have willpower. I know no matter what the circumstances are, as long as I ain’t dead, as long as God bless me with breath in my body to live, I can do anything. I can take on anything, any circumstances. That’s a fact.
AllHipHop: You caught some flack for your video “2 Legit To Quit,” where you say you will take the stand against Taxstone. Has that changed?
Troy Ave: People say I caught flack, but if you got somebody in the middle of the ocean — it’s 2 people in the ocean. One is swimming doing they thing, enjoying the water. One is drowning flapping around, that one’s gonna get the most attention. If you look at the video, it got 20K thumbs up and maybe 800 thumbs down, so the flack don’t matter. We focused on the positive, on the people who’s supporting it. That’s all I got to say about the negative s##t.
AllHipHop: How has your relationship with 50 Cent changed? He was your man but he was kicking it with Casanova.
Troy Ave: I don’t trip over that. It’s music, it’s entertainment. Fif is still cool. If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t be no me in this capacity. I saw him the other day and told him that. We had a lil wrestling fight in the hallway or whatever. Me, that’s why I always be getting my blessing because I keep it real no matter what. I always say, Fif is one of the reasons I started rapping. I wouldn’t be having all this money and all that if it wasn’t for him. I might have been still selling drugs. I might have got caught up and went to jail, or been dead and that would’ve been the end. No matter what type of road, I don’t get into little emotional type of petty s##t. Somebody might feel a way over this – not no more, I learned from that. It’s all entertainment, it’s whatever. If everybody in the same building, everybody gotta be cordial. It don’t matter to me.
Troy Ave: I don’t. I go where I want whenever I need to go. The question is how do they avoid running into me, you feel me? I’m clearly not nothing easy. I don’t really try to avoid anybody in Brooklyn, I just go wherever I want or wherever I’m permitted to go because of my legal situation. I can’t just be in no clubs. I got a curfew. I can’t go to sporting events without permission from the courts, all kinds of stuff.
But other than that, wherever I wanna go. If I wanna go to Philippe’s, I’ma go to Philippe’s. If I wanna go to Fort Greene (this lil sandwich spot), I’ma go there. I go wherever I want. Now I know that I’m not just a regular person, I’m literally a bag of money. You gotta protect the bag of money. I move like a star instead of a regular person with nothing to lose.
AllHipHop: How is the relationship with your two kids?
Troy Ave: Amazing. My kids are amazing. I’m actually gonna bring them out here to LA because we done already been to the other Disneylands. I wanna bring ‘em here, they’ll bug out. They at my house right now. I’ll be back home on Thursday, then we’ll do s##t. My kids are just dope to me.
AllHipHop: Did you lose custody?
Troy Ave: Nah.I’m still in court with it or whatever. Initially, I did because all the bulls##t, but you can’t deny how good of a father I am. How great of a provider I am. It’s like alright, let’s give them back temporary. I’m built for all of this. Whatever’s thrown at me: any type of legal s##t or civil suits.
Would you believe that somebody tried to sue me for them f##king getting shot at Irving Plaza? They tried to sue me! Then it came out that “hey Troy Ave wasn’t the shooter, “ and the lawsuit gets dropped. Come on dawg, this is crazy. I be going through mad s##t, I just put it in my music or deal with it. I don’t never be crying. I don’t be on social media talking about s##t, it’s whatever.
Troy Ave: Nah, I didn’t talk to him about that. Charlamagne’s alright. It be all entertainment with these people, so it’s all good. At one time, Charlamagne was a heavy supporter of mine. I’m grateful for that, that’s it. Anything else, whatever happened after that, I don’t forget what somebody initially did for me because I’m not an ungrateful person. Charlamagne’s cool, he’s doing his thing. I ain’t gon’ take no shots at him or be upset about nothing, it’s entertainment mayne.
AllHipHop: How do you think social media has impacted the entire situation with Taxstone?
Troy Ave: I don’t know, you probably have to ask him that. s##t, social media will tell you the whole case. Sometimes they real-life detectives, that’s a fact. It’s crazy. I was in jail and I was hearing people saying “Troy Ave shot himself.” People on social media are like “no he didn’t!” They breaking down the whole story, I’m like “oh s##t.” Social media is undefeated.
AllHipHop: Do you still defend yourself against rat allegations?
Troy Ave: I mean, it’s clear. It’s clear as day. You see no paperwork. Where? Who? What? When? It’s on camera, where? The same thing man, people call me anything but broke. People just gonna say anything. I remember somebody said “yo his house is rented,” because I got a big ass house. How’s my house rented dawg? “That’s not his Ferrari!” They just say anything, you be like whatever. Again, it’s the man drowning in the ocean splashing around who draws more attention than the 10 people swimming doing they thing. So I don’t care.
I got a yacht. I’m the only young black dude from Brooklyn who got a yacht, come on. I don’t be caring what people talk about. It’s fictional. Everywhere I go, when I’m going through the airport: “oh Troy Ave let me get a picture.” I was just in Vegas: “Oh it’s Troy Ave!”
Come to find out, I’m remembering that’s somebody who said some slick s##t about me before. You saying slick s##t on the internet or in an interview but when see me in person, I don’t even know who you are. You see on my social media I don’t follow nobody.
Godisgreatpaperstraight.com, that’s it. I don’t care about all the fake s##t, I follow people in real life. Now that we met, I f##k you and your vibe in real life. You saying some slick s##t in an interview but when you see me, you go out your way to tap me and tell me “I f##k with you.”
That’s crazy to me, but that shows you the streets is a myth. Because ordinarily where I’m from, it’d been like “oh you said what? When I see you, it’s on.” You don’t talk about somebody then you see them, tap them and wanna shake they hand. They see me and be like moths in the light. They get caught up, “oh s##t, that’s really Troy Ave. He’s really shining. He really got them big ass diamonds. He really looking like a bag of money. He really independent, I don’t understand it.”
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Troy Ave: God is great and the paper straight. Go support the merchandise. If you want to follow something real, be a part of something real, then BSB Records is a thing. Troy Ave is the one to follow. Troy Ave’s the one you can be comfortable with your kids listening to because he’s just gonna force you to get some money. Not be a bum and not be lazy, not sleep on your mama couch. I’m not into all the corny s##t, I be doing real s##t.