Pete Rock Reminisces Over “T.R.O.Y.” & Getting Emotional Hearing Tom Scott’s Sample (Audio)
One year ago, Pete Rock appeared on NPR’s “Microphone Check” to discuss his catalog, remixes, and James Brown influence. At the midpoint of 2015, the Chocolate Boy Wonder (as he’s been deemed) has a fresh batch of Petestrumentals available, care of Tucson, Arizona-based Mello Music Group. An MC/producer who got his start as Marley Marl’s DJ at radio, returns to the medium, to join Hip-Hop Head and veteran cool-seeker Jesse Thorn for “Bullseye.”
The 30-minute conversation examines Pete Rock’s journey, touching upon his influences including the aforementioned “Godfather Of Soul,” the Juice Crew’s founder, as well as Special Ed/Chubb Rock/U.T.F.O. producer “Hitman” Howie Tee. The conversation includes tremendous detail on Pete’s relationship with the late J Dilla (f/k/a Jay Dee). The Mount Vernon, New Yorker recalls traveling to Detroit, Michigan to spend a week with the then-Slum Village member in the mid-1990s. Pete also discusses the important part remixing Public Enemy’s “Shut ‘Em Down” played in his career.
Something that is not often heard, is a deep discussion of Pete Rock regarding the sonic elements of 1992’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).” Widely considered one of Hip-Hop’s most introspective hits, the song is a tribute to Heavy D & The Boyz’ “Trouble T-Roy” (a/k/a Troy Dixon). The dancer grew up on the same street as Pete Rock, being lifelong friends until Dixon’s 1990 death on tour. In discussing Pete and CL’s highest-charting single, Thorn asked the producer about his relationship with the basis of the song’s chorus loop: Tom Scott & The California Dreamer’s 1967 Folk-Jazz ballad, “Today.”
“That’s one of my favorite Jazz tunes, right there,” said Pete, more than 23 years later. “I found a way to give [Trouble T-Roy] something, from my heart.” Thorn asked Pete if once the beat-digger came upon that particular Impulse! Records loop, he knew that it would be allocated to the Dixon tribute. “I was in depress-mode,” admitted Pete, agreeing that he arranged the resulting beat with Troy in mind. “To this day, I don’t know how I picked that beat and made that record. But when I found the Tom Scott record, I started to get emotional. Maybe, I think that was a trigger or something for me to try something with that song. I just dug deep in that. I tried certain tricks in bringing out stuff in the song and the sample, and it worked out. You know, it worked out…” Emotional to this day, the former Elektra Records star continued, “God was workin’ with me when I made that beat. He know much I loved him. He was definitely workin’ with me.”
Jesse Thorn pointed out that the three-time Grammy-winner Tom Scott, following “Today,” found an illustrious career in making TV themes (“Starksy & Hutch” and “The Streets Of San Francisco”), in addition to being the musical director for Chevy Chase’s short-lived night talk-show.
The host asked Pete Rock if the song is hard to hear today, especially on radio. “I celebrate Troy [Dixon], man. He was a live person, so I celebrate him a lot,” reflected Pete. He did recall that upon the song’s creation, he was especially emotional. Rock also reveals that his then label-mates Busta Rhymes and Charlie Brown of Leaders Of The New School heard “T.R.O.Y.” shortly after completion, in the studio. “Dudes was emotional.”
Once an out-of-print recording relic bringing hundreds of dollars, The Honeysuckle Breeze was recently officially reissued on vinyl and CD by Boston, Massachusetts-based Get On Down Records (Raekwon, Nas, Cypress Hill).
Is there a more evocative Hip-Hop hit than “T.R.O.Y.”?