A new day is dawning over the Rotten Apple's hip-hop community, and rappers Action Bronson, Troy Ave, Maffew Ragazino and Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire are part of the transformation. Hailing from Brooklyn (T.A., Ragazino and eXquire) and Queens (Bronson) respectively—the four up-and-comers have all been putting in work as NYC's newest crop of rhyme spitters. From the swaggering street-smarts of Troy Ave, to the culinary brashness of Action to the lyrical word play of Ragazino and the grungy excitement of eXquire, these rappers are making quite the impression. And to top it all off, they’re all friends. Something that was unheard of in the earlier days of mean muggin’ landscape of city’s past. So XXL decided to get all four MCs on the line for a conference call to find out about New York’s new scene as well as its future. It’s time for a new, empire state of mind. —Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)

XXL: Whassup y'all. Let’s begin by talking about how you guys feel being labeled New York’s next generation?

Troy Ave: How does it feel? It feels dope, but, I don't really feel it yet. Like I [do] feel it when I go out and people come kick it with me [ like] "Yo, mad niggas talking about you." But It'll feel a lot better when I start getting some real money for it and get out the street. That's when it'll feel incredible.

Action Bronson: I'm just trying to be like Phil Collins man, honestly. That's really about it. I just wanna be a fucking English rock star. Rap is cool and all that other stuff man, [but] that shit ain’t where it needs to be. [But] people like us are setting it up right.

Maffew Ragazino: That's what it is. Not to piggyback off of [what] those guys are saying but, being deemed the new elite guys coming out of the city is dope, especially for myself. Personally, being mentioned amongst names who have humongous co-signs [and] machines behind them, being a lone ranger like myself is dope. That means the work is being put in and we making the city look good. That's always what it is, being recognized by the holy grail of publications, XXL, that ain’t no slouch shit. Ain’t nothing more incredible than that right now.

[Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire enters the conference call]

eXquire: Fuck y’all niggas talking about?

Ragazino: Shut up nigga.

eXqurie: [Laughs] Sorry I'm a little late y’all.

Action: [addressing Ragazino’s comment] I did this by myself. Action muthafuckin’ Bronson stands alone man.

eXquire: I used to do shows with Action Bronson when he had hair nigga.


T.A.: This shit so real I'm riding around the hood by myself selling my music
out my trunk, that's a fact. Still in the hood, I just came [before this phone call] from doing it. Still in the hood, to show niggas we in the hood. We did the whole Bricks in My Backpack [mixtape] thing, then Hof (my manager from freeonsmash.com) came along after he seen it buzzing and he came like, "Yo, OnSmash is on board to do whatever," as well as everybody else. Whether it be NahRight, shoutout to Eskay, or 2DopeBoyz, my nigga Meka, once you making your own wave niggas gonna come along and fuck with you. It ain’t like they just put us on a platform.

eXquire: I wasn't doing shit, I wrote niggas a letter that's how I got on Mishka. I wrote niggas a letter and asked them could they listen to my music. I was a security guard making $8 a fucking hour, I worked 12 hours a day from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. nigga. Straight sucka life, wasn't doing shit nigga. I had a girlfriend, fucking the same bitch every night to now fucking a different bitch every night. I did that shit me, myself, and Irene. [Laughs]

Ragazino: My time shall be soon.

eXquire: [Laughs] Your time is now. That's why you're on the phone man.

T.A.: I ain’t got nothing behind me but this street money you heard, that's a fact.

eXquire: I'm broke. [Laughs]

eXquire how do you feel about being one of the many new MC’s helping to put NY back on the map?

eXquire: I feel good, it's a lot of work to still be done. I don't ever smell myself 'cause I might be better off than those getting no attention but, if I was around a bunch of niggas that got more attention than me then I'd be nobody again right. If I was in a room with Fabolous, Jay-Z and whoever the fuck then who would I be again? I don't ever get to feeling myself. I still live in the same apartment, got the same problems so, it ain’t really like no big joyous, momentous occasion to me. I'm just rhyming and doing what I got to do to make it. Hopefully I do.

Now you all seem to have a great relationship with each other, how did that come about?

Action: Well I met Maffew a while ago, like at the beginning of the year when I started doing this shit. During that [time] we got a joint for the album. I met eXquire at this Fools Gold party, it was instant love. Same with Troy, everyone just respects each other and that's that man. As long as that love and respect is there, that's all we need. Kumbaya.

eXquire: Don't get it twisted son, we all laugh with each other but, we'd all bite each other's heads off.

So it still feels like competition.

eXquire: Hell yeah!

T.A.: Pause, pause I ain't biting none of y'all niggas heads off [Laughs]

Action: All I know is that I cook better than you muthafuckas. You aint seein' me in the kitchen, fuck that.

eXquire: My Ramen noodles game is ridiculous though.

T.A.: I cook a mean Penne a la Vodka man. [Laughs] That's about it though.

I think it's dope that y’all are cool with each other. Being from New York, we've all seen the movements come and go.

T.A.: A lot of hate. Everybody wanna be the man instead of gettin’ the money. I don't wanna be the man, I just wanna get the money. Real shit. That's how niggas down South winning, that's how Texas came out winning, that's how the whole Florida came out winning just all that camaraderie. You don't gotta be a best friend but, you can get money together. You could be cool, you could respect each other's crafts and shit you don't gotta talk everyday. I don't talk to [Action] Bronson everyday, I don't talk to eXquire everyday, or Ragazino. But, when I see them it's all love.

Now Action, during our conversation you mentioned NY isn't where it needs to be, do you all agree?

Action: It's a sob story man but, at the end of the day if you're hot, you're hot. You make ill shit and people are going to like it. There's no sob story over here, we're all grown men, muthafuckas have families to take care of and shit. At the end of the day make ill shit and people will fucking like it. That's what it is. If it's not hot, its not gonna pop off.

eXquire: That's NY's issue son--

T.A.: If you're not hot, forget about it.

Ragazino: Too much talking, no action.

T.A.: "Nobody aint fucking with us," just get hot. [Laughs]

Action: You gotta look inside yourself and wonder why muthafuckas ain't fucking with it.

eXquire, T.A., Ragazino: Exactly

T.A.: The dope shit about us is that everybody got their own lane and nobody trying to sound like [anyone]. You'll hear people trying to sound like somebody from somewhere else [but], everybody do their own thing.