Before super-producer Pete Rock became known for creating classic Hip-Hop albums with his partner C.L. Smooth, he was a 17-year-old teenager living in Mount Vernon, New York.
Producing was initially a hobby for Pete Rock, who started his legendary career spinning for Marley Marl’s “In Control Radio” on WBLS.
If it weren’t for his triumph over a battle with depression, one of Hip-Hop’s greatest producers might not have been so great. Over the course of his career, Pete Rock has production credits with hundreds of artists ranging from Nas, Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, Jay-Z, KRS-One and others numerous others.
But, early in his life, Pete Rock spun into a tailspin after the death of his close friend, Troy “Trouble T-Roy” Dixon, who is immortalized on the Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s 1992 track “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).”.
As their careers were beginning to bloom, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth suffered a serious setback. The death of their friend Troy ‘Trouble T-Roy’ Dixon left an indelible imprint on both men, which exists to this day.
According to Pete, Troy, who was a backup dancer for Heavy D. and The Boyz, had a playful spirit. T-Roy was also an early inspiration to Pete because they lived on the same block in Mount Vernon. Trouble T-Roy, 22, was on tour horse playing with friends when he fell off a 20-foot stage and died in July of 1990 during a stop on Heavy D.’s tour in Indianapolis.
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“When he passed, it kind of just shocked and rocked the neighborhood, because he was well-known in the neighborhood,” Pete Rock explained in an interview on NPR’s “Bullseye With Jesse Thorn.” “When he passed away, I found a way to give something back to him that came from our hearts.”
Back then, when Pete Rock was around 20-years-old and just maturing into adulthood, the death of his childhood friend sent him into a dangerous, deep depression for an unhealthy amount of time.
“I was in depressed mode,” Pete Rock revealed. “To this day, I do not know how I picked that record and made the beat the way I made it.”
One day when he was out record digging with Large Professor, Pete Rock came across Tom Scott’s cover of “Today,” which was originally recorded by Jefferson Airplane. The record would become the framework for “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).”
“When I was listening to the Tom Scott record, I started to get emotional,” Pete Rock said. “I think that was a trigger or something for me to try something with that song.”
Thanks to some input from Q-Tip, who was present when Pete Rock constructed the beat, a classic Hip-Hop track was born.
C.L. Smooth wrote an equally touching verse inspired by real life incidents. The rapper, who was also was a close associate of Trouble T-Roy, dedicated the last verse of their new song to his late friend.
The result of Pete Rock’s perseverance over depression was one of Hip-Hop’s greatest singles: “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).”
“God was working with me when I was making that beat. I could definitely say that, cause he knew how much we loved him [T-Roy],” Pete Rock explained. “So he definitely work with me, because to me that still blows me away, how the end result came out.”
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