The recent comments Trinidad Jame$ made at his New York show about Atlanta running New York rap have set off the reoccurring—some might say exhausting—conversation about the state of New York hip-hop. While Jame$ went on to clarify his comments on the subject, that didn’t stop New Yorkers from weighing in. The Harlem rapper Smoke DZA was one of the first NYC artists to comment, tweeting about the incident shortly after it became a story online.
It ends up DZA was up early in the morning trolling Twitter when he saw Jame$ had made some controversial statements. “I know Trinidad really well so I wasn’t expecting him to be what it was,” says DZA in a phone conversation with XXL. “When I saw the video footage I was like ‘Wow.’ Really, how I felt was what I said on my Twitter. That was my initial feelings. I was like, ‘Not again…’”
DZA was perhaps reluctant to jump into the fray of the conversation about the state of New York rap because it’s become such a common topic of discussion. But that didn’t stop him from standing up for his city. “I’m pretty much just fed up with this shit, especially when I’m out here busting my ass,” he says. “Not like I’m the flag-bearer for the city or anything. But I was born and raised here and I’ll be god damned if I let anyone else from outside come discredit where I live.”
Though DZA is upset about Jame$’ statements, he does concede that the “All Gold Everything” rapper has a point, especially when it comes to who gets played on local radio in New York. “I do get played on New York radio,” he says. “I’m not played like Future or any of the guys he used as a reference… I’m not in the everyday rotation like I wanna be—like I should be.”
At the same time, DZA is hopeful about New York rap’s future. He cites Joey Bada$$, the A$AP Mob, World’s Fair and Flatbush Zombies all as examples of New York hip-hop acts currently touring and celebrating their city’s rich tradition. There’s also DZA himself: He recently dropped The Stage EP, a collaboration with fellow weed-enthusiast Curren$y and New York producer Harry Fraud, and he’s hard at work on an upcoming full-length due out next year.
While it’s tiring to defend New York hip-hop from critics, he has little negative to say about Jame$ or the Atlanta sounds that currently play in heavy rotation on New York radio. “Some of this shit is hot,” he says of Atlana hits by artists like Jame$ and Future. “It’s not like it’s wack. But you’re not gonna go to Atlanta and hear a bunch of New York rappers.”