Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” is an iconic, classic and unforgettable track that hip-hop fans across the world hold near and dear. But as special as the 1992 track is to the listener, it means even more to the creator, who originally made the track in dedication to his fallen friend Troy “Trouble T Roy” Dixon. So when producer Pete Rock first heard Lupe Fiasco’s remake, “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free),” on the radio last week, he was quite upset.
“At that point, my emotions were working — I’m still thinking about Heavy D and Troy is a dear friend to me, and my emotions got the best of me, and I expressed myself on Twitter,” Pete Rock told MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway on Tuesday, a week after Lupe released his single.
Dixon, a former member of the hip-hop group Heavy D & the Boyz, passed away in 1990 after an accidental fall while he was out on tour. Two years later, Pete Rock and his partner CL Smooth released “T.R.O.Y.” to pay homage. The song took on even greater meaning for Rock after Heavy D, his cousin, passed away in November 2011.
The Soul Brother said he was approached by Lupe’s label and management to use his classic beat for their new track. Rock agreed, under the one condition: that he was involved in the recording process. “I thought from that point I would be involved with Lupe and being in the studio, tweaking the beat, but I never heard from the record label, and then I turn on the radio, and hear it on the radio,” Rock explained.
Instead of involving Pete Rock, Lupe and his team re-created the beat from the original 1967 Tom Scott sample from which “T.R.O.Y.” was crafted.
“No disrespect to lupe fiasco and i like him alot but TROY should be left alone. Feel so violated, the beat is next to my heart and was made Outta anguish and pain. When it’s like that it should not be touched by no one,” Rock tweeted after hearing the track. “I’m not flattered @ all. Dat sh– is wack, and the producer should be ashamed of his f—in self. Smh.”
The two soon got on the phone, and their respective differences were thought to be solved. “I just got off da phone with lupe, we worked out our difference and we bout to get it in,” Pete tweeted May 23. “Gonna be epic and we gonna give Troy and hev the proper respect they deserve and make history.”
The very next day, an irate Lupe phoned into the “Sway in the Morning” radio show and blasted Pete Rock for what he said was a premature tweet. “He wasn’t supposed to say that,” Lupe said in response to Pete’s tweet about plans to collaborate, which has now been deleted from his account. “He was supposed to say the same sh– he said on the phone: ’Yo, man, it was my bad, that was wack, it was f—ed up for me to say that, it was disrespectful, I was 100 percent in the wrong, I apologize.’ That’s what he was supposed to say.”
The two artists clearly have different views, but Pete contends that his aim was to make peace. “When he called, he was upset, and I just tried to talk him through that and say, ’Look, man, at the end of the day, let’s just fix this thing,’ ” Rock explained to MTV News. “My whole goal was to just squash this thing, fix the music and just move on.”
Pete said he’s still a Fiasco fan — naming “Paris, Tokyo” and “Kick, Push” as two of his favorite songs — but he also stands by his original condition: If anyone is to remake “T.R.O.Y.,” he wants to be involved. “If you’re using my track, I want to give you that same impact that I had when I put that record out,” he said.
“They Reminisce Over You” has already been redone several times — on mixtapes as well as commercially released albums. Rock said he can’t control the unauthorized mixtape versions, but he would like to be a part of all official remakes, as he was on Mary J. Blige’s 1993 What’s the 411? Remix album. “The Mary J. Blige remix was dope because she involved us and she put CL Smooth on her remix,” he said.
What do you think about Lupe Fiasco’s “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)”? Sound off below!