Featured Video

W H I T E C H R I S T M A S 2

PITCHFORK ALBUM REVIEW of Troy Ave's BRICKS IN MY BACKPACK 3

If you couldn't tell by the tape's namesake, Troy Ave raps about selling drugs from an early age, and often. But he does so in a way that seems far more grounded then his white yacht, white linen, white girl-touting drug-rap contemporaries. He paints himself as Brooklyn's Marlo Stanfield, a young hustler who's found local success to be so empowering that he can't be made to care about what's going on in the greater scope of the game. Fittingly, he's allotted guest spots almost exclusively to fellow New Yorkers: Action Bronson,Fabolous, and Avon Blocksdale. Ave is everything history tells us a Brooklyn rapper should be: clever, intuitive, smart-alecky, and relaxed. He references the most obvious cool-kid touchstones (the NBA, Basquiat, Young Jeezy), but makes it a point to thicken up his verses with vivid imagery, like the "hustlers who wear shorts under they jeans." He can put a proper song together, and raps the way someone with an alleged drug-dealing history as extensive as his own ought to.
BIMB3 is well-sequenced, something too many tapes are missing. "Lord as My Witness" is heroic, built on a sappy organ loop with drill-team snare pops. The song itself is a shimmering example of dope-boy repentance, the chorus declaring, "Where I'm from they don't give much, so I take mines and get paid/ Lord as my witness, as I bow my head and I pray/ Father forgive us, please keep the Feds away." The tape's lead single, "Cokeamania", is more snarling, and threatens to "shoot a nigga out they muthafuckin' shoes," sounding deviant in that way rappers do when they promise the kind of violence they'll never deliver. "Snow" is Ave detailing his coke dealing exploits over a soft xylophone riff that could've been pulled from an old Stax ballad. He's paired drug dealing with a sonic elegance it really shouldn't know. His wry sense of humor sees him singing a wounded Tracy Chapman-like refrain about there being "no business like snow business."