Favorite Track: “Zoo York (feat. Fivio Foreign & Pop Smoke)” Least Favorite Track: “Ice Cold”
Putting your hometown on the map has long been a sign of hip hop greatness, and a sought-after accomplishment from MC’s of all eras. Boasting the glory of your home-turf doesn’t come as a right of passage; instead it’s a subtle acknowledgment that you’re the best that your home has to offer. On Lil Tjay’s latest mixtape, he sets his sights on this mission, recruiting New York’s modern rap roster as an over bloated feature-list. There’s no shortage of guests on State of Emergency and every single one is from the Big Apple; in fact, six of the mixtape's seven tracks have brought along at least one other artist. However, as the mixtape plays out, these names start to feel less like features and more like the best the project has to offer. They seem to overshadow Tjay more often than not, and if anything, they prove that New York’s hip hop scene has acts that are much more innovative, fresh, and exciting than Lil Tjay.
Compared to Tjay’s cutting edge debut True 2 Myself, State of Emergency pulls from a very different set of influences. While it takes more risks than its predecessor, it shoots for a sound that’s far from Lil Tjay’s wheelhouse. Thematically, it covers New York City; from it’s boroughs, to it’s projects, to it’s street life. Stylistically, it attempts the city's most exciting and current musical movement: Brooklyn drill. Although this style of trap music originated in Chicago in the early 2010’s with names like Chief Keef, Lil Bibby, and King Louie, modern artists from New York have given this niche a new flavor, completely re-defining it. Many of the most influential names in that movement show up as features on State of Emergency: artists like Fivio Foreign, Pop Smoke, Sheff G, and Sleepy Hallow. However, among the sea of abrasive adlibs and UK drill deliveries, Tjay sticks out like a sore thumb, effectively outcasting himself from those that he recruited for his own mixtape.
Although he is just as much of a New Yorker as the names on this project’s feature list, Tjay’s prior work maintained a very different type of NYC hip hop sound. His debut blur