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

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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.

GO TO NEXT PAGE TO READ CL SMOOTH'S MEMORIES OF TROY

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CL SMOOTH: “What I wanted to capture on ‘T.R.O.Y.’ was my vulnerability.”

I was back in Mt. Vernon [when Troy fell]. I don’t really remember how I felt [when I heard the news] I just remember going and seeing them. I don’t know how I got the strength because usually I lose it [dealing with death]. What I remember are the beautiful flowers and all of them were Nikes [floral arrangements]… because [Heavy D & the Boyz] had that Nike endorsement deal going around that time and I was amazed by that, to just see the Nike flowers and the basketball made of flowers…

[Troy’s death] signified what special people mean to the people when they just all of a sudden, at the prime of the lives, are just gone. So many people of the world are affected by that one move, it’s so similar to everybody at that time. It just wasn’t Troy dying it was a lot of our friends dying but Troy was like a public figure that died; someone who was [from] the ’hood but was doing something positive and in the height of what he was doing to get cut short was like he was cheated. I felt that despite me being closer to him or not closer to him than the next person, I felt like I was in a position to do something special [to remember him].

[With “T.R.O.Y”] it was like, “Yo, this is what I’ma do for him and this is going to carry the torch for everybody because Troy was that type of person that could hold…” Troy was somebody, before his passing, I definitely learned to respect and as the years went by I learned to cherish his memories like all the rest of my fallen soldiers in my life that meant something special to me at one point or another.

I wrote “T.R.O.Y.” in ’92… It had been in my head but I just couldn’t put it together and [one day] I wrote it right there in the studio and just recorded it… It just took me about an hour to write it, it was the last record [for the Mecca and the Soul Brother album] and it was no pressure on me to really turn in anything, it was just say something and when it happened and they said, “We need this record to be on the album.”

I didn’t really look at it and say to myself, “Yo, I need to do this,” I left that up to [the label] to do it. My whole plight was to make the best record possible for people to like, for people to respect and know it’s genuine… Take the skirt off everything and just bare yourself. What you feel is your vulnerability on one record and I felt like that’s what I wanted to do and that’s what I wanted to capture, my vulnerability, to say this is what I really love. I love money, I love girls, I love being successful, but these are the people that I’m trying to capture, these are the people I’m trying to impress, my real people.

“T to the R-uh-O-Y, how did you and I meet?/In front of Big Lou's, fighting in the street/But only you saw what took many time to see/I dedicate this to you for believing in me,” —CL Smooth, “T.R.O.Y.”

That was real. It was just over a disagreement about a chick me and Troy was both seeing and it just escalated into something else… He had his people and he wasn’t a punk. His occupation was entertain and dancing but he wasn’t no punk, and he was very seasoned on what he did and he had big brothers and people that loved him to. It was a beautiful story to talk about ’cause it ended positive, it ended beautifully and it was one of the more famous fights in my small town of Mt. Vernon.

This was a [five-minute] scrap and it was a beautiful one… You had a lot of great fights out there but you never had a person of his notoriety to go out and shoot a five. I think that shows heart, that shows a lot of attitude, a lot of balls to come up and by that time I think that was my last year of high school ’cause I remember coming from summer school and getting off the bus and that whole thing poppin’ off like that.

In the end we became brothers, we became friends and respected each other at the end of the day. I give respect where respect is due and I’m very grateful for everything I think because that move was made that way I’m still here to have a career, I’m still here to entertain the people with a piece like [“T.R.O.Y.”].

[I didn’t just write about Troy because] I envied the people who had that reputation as people who are always loving their memories and reminiscing over the great ones; whether it’s a great fight, great person, great lover, great activist, great father, the ones that are missed, they always reminisce over them… At that time I created something that can make all my family reminisce about me and talk about me and what I did for them and how I put them in the forefront of this record that I’m giving them praise and thanks for creating me so I could create this. And whatever vehicle and platform that comes out of it; you can get “T.R.O.Y.” out of it.

GO TO NEXT PAGE TO READ G-WHIZ'S MEMORIES OF TROY

G-Whiz, Trouble T-Roy, Eddie F & Heavy D
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G-WHIZ: “It’s never ever a year that goes by where I forget Troy.”

[Troy] was like my savior; he was like my best friend; like my brother. Like, where there was one, there was the other. And if you saw me and didn’t see him, the first question people would ask is, “Where’s Troy?” and vice versa.

[One thing] that’s real exclusive, that people just don’t know, is that for a while I stayed with his family. This was before we even started; before we blew up, this is why we were so close of friends. My mom moved to D.C., [and] I ain't like it in D.C. so I came back to New York and that’s where I stayed. People thought we was cousins.

We were all there when [Troy fell]. It was one of them things where, you know, when an accident happens it’s like, “Wow, that just happened.” It’s just one of those things I’ll never ever forget… When it happened, it was like in shock and it took a while for me to come out of that shock. I didn’t know how to deal with death… I had never lost anyone that close to me. It was really hard for me at the time. I didn’t even make it to the funeral.

[After Troy’s death] it was really hard [to perform] because when I look to my left or my right he wasn’t there. We had to do what we had to do as far as to keep things going, but to be truthful it was never really the same after [Troy died]. After we got to the Nothing But Love album I really couldn’t do it anymore…

We done did all the touring [and] promotions. We done everything we needed to do for that last album and it was time for the new album and what happened was we were in Atlantic City for a performance; it was like Jack the Rapper of something like that and we were supposed to perform new material and I was backstage and I just couldn’t go out there. I just couldn’t do it and that was the last time I suited up to perform. It just didn’t feel right anymore, you know.

When I hear [“T.R.O.Y.”] it brings back memories, but what it really does for me, it makes me feel good that his daughter [Tantania] can hear something about her father. I’m not sure what it does for other people, but for me it’s a validation of how important Troy was to so many people and that his daughter gets to hear that kind of tribute to her father. She didn’t get a chance to spend time with her dad and she feels that every time this [anniversary] or Father’s Day comes around. It’s important that she know how important her dad was, and he was important to a lotta people.

[Troy’s] a year and a day older than me and we always celebrated our birthdays together—his was the 19th and mine was the 20th—so it’s never ever a year that goes by where [I forget him]. There’s no way I could forget that… [Troy’s] always with me. He ain’t never left me. Wherever I go, whatever I do, he’s with me at all times.

GO TO NEXT PAGE TO READ TROY'S DAUGHTER'S THOUGHTS ON HER FATHER

Trouble T-Roy's daughter, Tantania Dixon
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TANTANIA DIXON: “Heavy D & the Boyz treat me like their own.”

I was actually 9-months-old when my father passed away. I really don’t have any mutual memories of my father, but I’ve learned so much about him through the people in my family and watching videos of him and the actual recordings they have of him when he was in [Heavy D & the Boyz], so that taught my a lot about him.

[Heavy D, G-Whiz and Eddie F.] still ’til this day treat me like their own. Like, I’m their niece and my uncle Glen [G-Whiz] actually, is like my father from time to time, and steps in when he needs to step in [Laughs]. My uncles told me that my father was a goofball, and like he just brought so much life to the set… Whenever I’m with them they always tell me about memories and how my father was just so full of energy and they see a lot of that in me and how I make people feel sometimes. They said that’s how my father was and I think that’s why my uncle Hev and uncle Glen get teary eyed and sad sometimes ’cause they see some of his traits in me.

When I see the videos and the plaques about the music, it makes me feel good that my father actually did something with his life, you know? ’Cause he didn’t go to college and he didn’t do the things that I’m doing with my life right now [by going to college and study criminal justice], but in his own way, he made a difference. And my uncles made a difference and the music impacted other people’s lives… I still meet people that say, “Oh, that’s your father? I used to watch him all the time, man, [and] his dances.” It really makes me feel good to know that [my father and my uncles] did something with their lives back then.

I know my father and my uncles and everybody were icons, back in the day and everybody gives them respect, but to me it’s just normal because they’re just normal to me. So, when people actually ask me about them it makes me feel good to know that he’s my father and that he had an impact on the hip-hop industry…

When [Pete Rock & CL Smooth] made [“They Reminisce Over You”] and I was old enough to actually listen to it, it really made me feel like, [my father] was really a big part of something, like, a lot of people really loved him… I know Kanye mentioned [“T.R.O.Y.”] in one of his songs and I just be like, Some people [still] remember hip-hop back then, and it makes me feel very proud of them.

I wouldn’t wanna wish death on my father, but by him passing away and by CL doing a song that became one of those hip-hop classics, it’s like, it’s a good feeling. It’s a bittersweet feeling, but if it wasn’t for him passing away, the feeling would have never came about and with him passing away [“T.R.O.Y.”] became a classic and it was for him, so it’ll always be a memory of my father and I feel good about it.

[The anniversary of my father’s passing] is always the week after our family reunion. We just had our family reunion [last] weekend in D.C. and we have a talent show every year in memory of him, so we always acknowledge that. I’m going to go to the gravesite [today] and everything with my grandfather… I have a fear about gravesites, but it’s becoming something that’s on my list to do every year.

I would just like, want everybody to know that what my father and uncle Hev and everybody did is an impact on my life as well because it set history in stone and I wanna go forth and be able to do something and make them proud of me as well, so it doesn’t stop here. I just have that memory in my mind all the time of my father.

GO TO NEXT PAGE TO VIEW RARE PHOTOS OF HEAVY D & THE BOYZ

Chris Rock (L) w Troy & Hev
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Classic shot of Troy (center) with Hev (botom right) & crew
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Heavy D & Eddie F (center) cold chillin' with the crew
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All photos courtesy of Deo

GO TO NEXT PAGE TO VIEW TRIBUTE VIDEOS TO TROUBLE T-TROY

HEAVY D & THE BOYZ "PEACEFUL JOURNEY"

PETE ROCK & CL SMOOTH "THEY REMINISCE OVER YOU (T.R.O.Y.)"