New York’s Troy Ave takes a lot of pride in his hometown—so much so that he named his debut album, which dropped earlier this week, New York City The Album. Troy believes he “puts forth the best representation of New York” right down to his appearance, which he says looks like "what people from other places would imagine New York to look like.” His music, gritty and street, is a throwback of sorts to the early 2000s, when NYC rappers made their name through unpolished mixtapes full of bullish freestyles and hood anthems—the kind of stuff, he believes, that has been missing from the city’s hip-hop scene as of late.

Troy represents Brooklyn specifically—his name derives from an avenue in the borough’s Crown Heights area—but his songs are influenced from MCs from all over the city, from the Boogie Down Bronx to Shaolin. He stopped by the XXL offices to give his two favorite tracks from each borough, giddily citing the lyrics to each while also explaining their significance to him. Reed Jackson