Twenty years ago today (July 15) tragedy struck when hip-hop dance pioneer Troy “Trouble T-Roy” Dixon passed, following a freak accident while on tour in Indianapolis with his group, Heavy D & the Boyz. The Mt. Vernon native was only 22 at the time of his death. While casual rap fans may not think of him right away when listing the culture’s fallen soldiers, Troy’s name is ever present whether they realize it or not.

Heavy D & the Boyz, which also included fellow dancer Glen “G-Whiz” Parrish and producer/DJ Edward “Eddie F.” Ferrell paid homage to their childhood friend on the group’s third album, 1991’s Peaceful Journey, but Pete Rock & CL Smooth immortalized him with their 1992 tribute record, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).” Although the now-classic song serves as a staple in most R.I.P. playlists, it was crafted as a musical tribute to Trouble T-Roy, whose name was the inspiration for the record’s acronym-based title.

With this being such a pivotal anniversary, XXL chose to celebrate the life and legacy of Troy “Trouble T-Roy” Dixon, a man few know despite being the inspiration for one of hip-hop’s greatest tribute records. Over the course of the following pages, you will read personal stories of reflection from those that knew Troy best—including former band members Eddie F. and G-Whiz, as well as CL Smooth—and an exclusive interview with Troy’s now 20-year-old daughter, Tantania Dixon, who was only 9-months-old when her father passed. We reminisce for a spell, or should we say think back… —Anslem Samuel, with additional reporting by Manny Maduakolam, Amber McKynzie & Aleia Woods

EDDIE F.: “I think the group really lost something when Troy passed.”

I was right there [when Troy fell]. I was one of the first people to actually see him [fall]. There was a lot of misconceptions ’cause a lot a times people say, “Oh, yeah, he fell off a stage” and just to set the record straight it wasn’t that he fell off a stage. You know how coliseums or convention centers have like the exit ramps that actually go around the arena and eventually go down to the ground level? Well, there was just one of those ramps and it was elevated in the arena. The thing was, though, when you come outta the arena, you really had no perspective that you were two or three stories up in the air. It just felt like you comin’ out of a regular stage like at a school or somethin’ and [the ground’s] right there.

So what happened was everybody was just playin’ around and I think somebody had either rolled a garbage can or a cart or somethin’, and Troy had jumped up on the side of a little concrete barrier. You know how you jump up and you kinda move your legs to the side so whatever won’t hit you and you kinda support yourself but you really on that little wall and kinda supportin’ with your hands… What it was is that he lost his balance and fell over the side, but when he first fell nobody didn’t think anything of it because it didn’t feel like you were that high. It just seemed like he might of fell 10 feet, 15 feet maybe—not even that high.

When we looked over; I just remember me and a friend of mine ran to the wall and looked over the side and it was just way high up—it was like two stories up in the air. It was like the height of a street lamp or something like that. I remember Troy was on the ground and it was concrete down there. I just remember at that point everybody just lost it and everything just stopped.

Everybody ran down the ramp and when we got down the ramp I saw that he had like a big gash in the side of his head where his head had hit the ground, and at that point we just like slow motion. Everybody was just jumpin’ around and just yellin’ and everything just turned blurry.

It just so happened that there was an ambulance right there underneath the ramp. From where he fell, the ambulance was like no less than 40 feet away, so it was like he almost fell right in front of the ambulance. They turned on the lights and I didn’t see them like actually pick him up and put him in the ambulance or whatever ’cause at that point it was just like everybody was hysterical and everything was in slow motion and then from there it just turned into like a whole mayhem of everybody rushin’ to the hospital.

Troy survived the fall. He didn’t pass until [later] at the hospital. I don’t remember the exact details, but I remember his mother had come down and you know it was enough time for people to come down… Public Enemy was performing [when Troy fell] so they weren’t outside, and I’m not sure if Kid-N-Play had went on yet or if they were going on, but everybody eventually ended up coming by the hospital. I remember Kid-N-Play being at the hospital, Chuck D, Prof. Griff, people like that being at the hospital... I’m not sure if they had him on life support or what. I don’t remember those details, but I do remember that everybody was in the hospital trying to see if he was gonna be okay and unfortunately [he passed].

I’ll be honest with you, though, I think the group [Heavy D & the Boyz] really lost something when Troy passed, obviously, but it’s like I think even though the records were gettin’ bigger, the group was growin’ apart ’cause Troy was a lot of things. First of all, he was the glue to the group. He was the one person that really brought everybody together, because he was really great friends with [G-Whiz], Hev, and me, but all separately. We all knew each other, but Troy was the one who knew everybody as a friend. So he was the glue of the group.

Like anybody that has friends; it might be that one friend that’s best friends with everybody. When it’s time to get something started or Yo, we gonna go hang out here, there be that one person that’s gonna call everybody and kinda organize everything and get everybody together and Troy was that person… So we lost that, and I think that’s ultimately why the group started drifting apart. Then, also too, the group wasn’t symmetric anymore… I was always kinda in the background or whatever, but it was kinda like now I’m in the front, and it’s like Hev and [Whiz] were like one person [on the stage]. It was no longer that other person. It was like a galaxy and then you lost something. Now everything’s spinnin’ different. It’s not the same and it definitely took a toll on the group.

I knew [the anniversary of Troy’s passing] was around this time, but I didn’t know it was [the 20th]. I wasn’t one to like visit the gravesite, like I’m bad with funerals and all of that stuff; I don’t really do any of that. I’ve been to two, three funerals that I can remember in my life. That’s not something that I really do… We didn’t go to [Troy’s] funeral, it was just too crazy because it was just too overwhelming and then it was so much press on it, it was in Mt. Vernon, but just like we were all at the house [together].

I don’t have any sons, I have daughters, but there’s a couple of us that have sons named Troy, like [our man] Deo, so you know, Troy’s name carries forward. But I’m kinda glad that you guys are doing this [interview] so at least hopefully this can help the spread of the legacy of Troy and he can get the recognition that he deserves.