Nowhere is rap’s generational divide more apparent than in New York. The city is prideful about the genre it birthed and its rap fans carry a strange reluctance to get fully behind artists who they feel aren’t true to New York’s historic sound. When the younger crowd rallies around an artist, the older set tends to reject it; when the older crowd finds a rapper who fits their strict criteria, the youth usually don’t reciprocate those feelings. But 20-year old Brooklyn rapper Jay Critch is different. When you stroll the streets of New York, you’re just as likely to hear a group of teenagers reciting “Speak Up” from a bluetooth speaker as you are to see a Yankee fitted-wearing Hot 97 listener with “Thousand Ways” booming out of their car radio — a cross-generational consensus that’s been missing since Bobby Shmurda’s 2014 incarceration.
The Rich Forever signee has found his footing in a Brooklyn climate in need of a rap star by not only straying away from some of the trend-chasing sounds, but also showcasing the unique suaveness and personality that’s distinct to his borough. In the last year, the Clinton Hill native has graduated from a local phenomenon into a rapper that has graced the MSG stage at Yams Day, had a casual name drop on SportsCenter, and had a song featured in the first episode of Atlanta: Robbin’ Season.