Many people have counted Troy Ave out. The Brooklyn rapper has faced a series of unfortunate events that began with 2016’s Irving Plaza shooting, which resulted in him being shot twice, being charged with attempted murder and losing his close friend Ron “Banga” McPhatter. The saga continued months later with a Christmas Day shooting that left the NuPac artist with two additional gunshot wounds. But while Troy has been counted out, he's been doing some counting of his own.

“I always count my blessings before I count my money,” Troy Ave tells XXL. “Because everything I’m going through, another person would’ve been crushed. Obliterated. Gone. Finito. But with me it just fuels my fire.”

Troy Ave is a man on a mission. Facing the fight of his life in the aforementioned criminal case, he’s fully committed to not only proving his innocence, but also staying sucker free. The XXL Freshman alum address his trials and tribulations throughout his latest album: the featureless, fittingly titled, More Money More Problems.

“The more I go through, the more I’m going to talk about,” Troy says. “It’s like watching a documentary: If the person had an exciting life, that’s going to be an exciting movie. And my music is getting more exciting, especially with this project.”

The 10-track project features records like “Streets Is A Myth” and “Dance in the Rain,” on which Troy opens up about the frustrations and circumstances that have plagued him recently. He touches on sensitive subjects such as his legal drama, switch ups in his crew and haters. “You ever been loyal and got betrayed?/Found out people ain't who they portray?/This type of thing happens every day,” he raps in the opening lines of "Dance in the Rain."

“This shit be overwhelming to talk about," Troy says. "I just be wanting to express it in the music. I said I was going to do more and say less, so I get in that booth and I be giving everything.”

Troy Ave sat down with with XXL to speak about More Money More Problems, not being able to perform in his hometown and why he feels the streets are a myth.

XXL: There are no features on More Money More Problems. Was that planned?

Troy Ave: Yeah. When you deal with features, you got to be on other people’s schedules. Since I pride myself so much on being independent, I just want to get the job done. I don’t want to hold up my fans from having the music; I want to be on my own time. It was one feature that I was going to get, but we ain’t get to connect. I was going to get Young Dolph on “The Come Up.”

“More money, more problems” isn’t a new concept for you. What is it about this project or this point in your life that makes it the right title for now?

This is the most fitting time now. You see everything I’m going through, all of the controversy and trials and tribulations? It just seemed more fitting than any time in my life. I’ve always had issues with more money, more problems, because I always worked hard and never waited for no handouts. I always got to the money. And you know that comes with jealousy: a sense of entitlement and envy. It just comes with problems, but at this point in my life it’s the most money I’ve had and the most problems ever. Hopefully there’s nothing on my plate that I can’t eat up. I wake up everyday and pray God don’t put anything in front of me that I feel like I can’t handle. I don’t pray for wealth and all of that other stuff. I just pray that he don’t put anything in front of me that I can’t handle. So if these are the issues that come with success, then I’ll take them.

Since the money started coming in, what’s been the biggest problem?

I’m a caring person. I’m genuine and passionate about my people. If somebody is a friend of mine and I have a way or an avenue to get to the money, I’m going to put them on. But in business, your friends who do street business ain’t always the best friends to do music business or real estate business with unless they want to grow—and everybody don’t grow at the same speed. So just me putting people in position and them not living up to expectations and then while I’m growing they ain’t expanding and it’s holding me back. It’s stagnating me and I sacrifice my growth just to help everybody and then them turning around and not appreciating it—I just can’t stand it, because I’m just always the person that’s loyal, grateful. I show gratitude for everything anybody has ever given me and I ain’t been given much.

And people having that sense of entitlement like, “Yeah, you suppose to do that.” How am I supposed to do that? They don’t see when I’m shooting the emails and I’m not just in the studio grinding. They don’t see when I’m pressing up these CDs, doing graphic design work, calling these DJs. I’m independent, so I get myself a record deal every time I drop. I do one-offs with myself, BSB Records. Every time I drop, a quarter-million dollars. Boom. Ain’t nobody putting in on that. You know what I’m saying? But they feel entitled to all of the benefits that come with it. It hurts, because you got love for people, but at what point do you be like, my love for you is causing me pain? That be the thing—realizing you can’t take everybody with you. You can’t help everybody. You can only help those who want to help themselves.

In the past you’ve said the hood is a handicap. Your latest album features a track tilted “Streets is a Myth.” Would you say the streets let you down?

Most definitely, because I feel the streets is more so perspective. I’ll give you an example. When you’re a kid, you might see somebody and think they are tall. Then you grow up and that person is only 5’6” and now you’re taller than them. When I was a kid and I would see the drug dealers on the corner. They would have all of the new Jordans and always had weed to smoke and liquor to drink, but when I got older, I realized that they ain’t have no cars. I’m out here riding a Mercedes-Benz—and this is before the music. You know what I’m saying? You can’t be taught success by unsuccessful people. You can’t have their mindset, because it’s not going to get you nowhere.

Like I say in the song “Streets is a Myth,” when you go to jail your homie ain’t going to take care of your kids. Your so-called friend is going to try to fuck your girl. That ain’t right. That ain’t the right thing to do, but it happens. It’s all a trick and you don’t realize it’s a trick until the trick is pulled on you. You don’t realize that it’s over until it’s too late. You can ask 90 percent of the people in jail if the streets is a myth. They’ll say, “Hell yeah.” Hopefully with my music and me as an example, people don’t have to get locked up before they realize and change their mindset.

Has changing your management had an impact on how you operate?

I’m even more hands on with everything. I cross all of the T’s and dot the I’s. I don’t put trust in a lot of people, because trust can turn you into dust and that’s how you get burned. I’m just more hands-on with everything. I was always—like I had a manager, but I still did everything by myself. I acted as my own strategic marketing person, my own publicist. I recorded my own music in my own studio. I made my own beats. I still did all of that. I just did it behind-the-scenes and then let somebody else take the credit. I would call and set up a meeting, then I wouldn’t go. I’d be like, “Alright, my manager is going to come see you.” All of that stuff was stuff I was setting up. Now it’s more so that I’m doing it and I’m finding people that I can trust that’s efficient in their job and professional, that can do things better than me.

What has been the best lesson learned since you’ve tightened your circle?

My circle is a dot. It ain’t even a circle. That shit is a dot. Straight up. That shit is a decimal. See now, if I talk my fly shit they’re going say he’s talking all cocky, but my circle is a dot behind all of these commas, from all of this money.

What’s been the best lesson now that it’s gotten that small?

That you don’t need everybody as much as you might think that you need them. And that people have to have a role, because you’re doing a business and you got to be professional in doing business. There’s a time for talking shit and being homies, and there’s a time for work. Everybody that’s a homie won’t definitely make a good employee. That’s with anything. Everybody that’s a center won’t make a good free-throw shooter. You know what I’m saying? Everything don’t always have to coincide. No matter how much you want it to. No matter how strong you feel. No matter how much love you got for a person. It just won’t work. Also, if you become more self-contained and unreliant on anyone to do anything—I don’t care if it’s them driving your car—you get stuff done. Straight up, because you don’t have a choice. Well, you do have a choice. You can fail or you can be successful. Failure ain’t no option with me.

What would you say is currently the biggest misconception about Troy Ave?

The biggest misconception regarding Troy Ave is one thing that I want to talk about, but I can’t, because of my legal situation. That’s a huge misconception.

Does it involve the S-word?

That’s a fact. That’s a huge misconception, but I ain’t going to talk about it. I be getting blocked from doing shows in New York, because bad news travels faster than good news.

Are you actually banned from performing in New York City?

Yeah, the police block my shows. They’ll show up or tell the club, “We’re going to hit you with all kinds of fines.” Every time somebody tries to book me, they say, “We’ll shut the block down for four blocks and we’ll search every car that comes here.” They say that I’m going to bring a violent crowd and it’s not true. I’ve been performing for three years prior to the incident and now I’ve been performing outside of New York for another two years. It’s an isolated incident. And then the news that people get to see is painted so crazy. People still have an image in their mind. They think that Troy Ave came into a club and just started shooting. That’s not true. They don’t see later on when the FBI report comes out and that the real story is that, no, Troy Ave was shot. He got shot twice. His best friend got shot and killed. Troy Ave wrestled the gun away from the shooter and then he was trying to leave out. I wasn’t coming into the room on the video. I was leaving out of the room and there was somebody right there in my way. The same person who just shot me. So what am I supposed to do? You feel me? Instead of getting painted as a hero, I get painted as a villain and that’s just not true. Look, the FBI report is out. Troy Ave never brought no guns into no club. Why do I have all of these restrictions? I can’t go into a club with more than six or 10 people. That’s crazy. Those are my restrictions, but I don’t complain about it. I don’t talk about it. I just be like whatever. If I touch on it in the music, I do. The silver lining is that me being on all of these crazy restrictions and everything made me tighten up in life. At any events, I roll with professional security, not no homies and all that.

It just showed me who was real and who was fake, who was going to ride with me and who was going to ride for me. Being in jail teaches you patience. It makes you see things for what they are. Just me sitting in a wheelchair—I really had to sit my ass down. I wasn’t just in jail. I really was sitting down, fucked up. Shot in both of my legs. I had to go to rehab to walk right again. That just makes you reflect. You see who is coming in those visits. You see who can’t look you in the eye. You see what the reaction is. You see who is handling business for you while you’re sitting in jail. You see who’s riding for you or who’s just riding with you. There’s a difference if somebody is riding with you.

What’s next for Troy Ave?

I plan to grow. I feel like I’m in a dope space going into the new year. I don’t have animosity for nobody. I don’t even have ill feelings for certain people anymore. All that type of shit does is distract you from getting to the money. I got to get to this money. That’s a fact though. I like to do things. There are a lot of things I like to do and they cost money. You feel me? I just did a back-to-school giveaway that cost me a lot of money. I ain’t have no sponsors or anything. I did that all out of my pocket. For me to continue doing that, I got to work. I’m going to do something for Christmas also. The same way I don’t wait for any features, I don’t wait around and beg and kiss ass for sponsors and stuff. I don’t want nobody to tell me “no” or have something on hold. If I want to do something for the people, I’m going to do something for the people. In order for me to do that I got to blow up. I got to keep getting bigger and better the same way I been doing. God willing for 2019, I can get this case up off of me and I could really spread my wings and do what I need to do.

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