New York rappers are constantly battling two opposing forces. As hip-hop’s Mecca, the city holds their homegrown rappers to the traditionalist ideals of the genre’s golden age. Ironically, the most commercially successful New York rappers of the last few years—Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, A Boogie Wit Hoodie, 6ix9ine—have either left the Big Apple to get hot, or adopted the sonics of Atlanta’s trap music to cut through the static. 

Thankfully, Jay Critch sounds just as good rapping over a Harry Fraud beat as he does through AutoTune next to Rich The Kid. “Thousand Ways” and “Fashion” couldn’t be more different; one has the traditional swag and rhyme pattern of the city, while the other is soaked in so much vocal processing it’s surprising one can make the words out. But Critch, who has the charisma and internet savvy to take over the entire east coast and beyond, makes both sounds work. Let’s just hope New York bolsters him, instead of trapping him like it’s trapped so many others.