7 Questions Of Hip Hop Culture: Troy L. Smith

Today we jump out the box with the 7 Questions of Hip Hop Culture series with one of my favorite people who personally inspires me, Troy L. Smith. Many of you may know him for his tremendous old school tape collection or interviews with pioneers posted online. For those who have not heard of him, this is a real brother who has passion for Hip Hop, and you will learn why. As a matter of fact, he is one of the first heads who posted quality Old School Hip Hop online that I can ever recall. Enjoy!

1. What does the Hip Hop culture, and its elements, mean to you, and why is it your passion?

I never gave it much thought about the culture on a whole. My main focus was always on the music part; not the dancing or graffiti. Although I dug some of the dancing, I was more into the electric boogie of dancing. That effortless motion always got my attention. I never understood why it did not get more play. To this day I never understood how graffiti got the call to be apart of this culture. As for as the music, I hope one day when the Lord see’s fit for me to leave this earth he will take me back to all those jams and put me in the front row so I can see how it all began.

Yes, I love the origins of Hip Hop! I never get tired of hearing the stories from the early days. Through the tapes it has given me an unbelievable passion to tell the story of early Hip Hop. The tapes; the flyers are like a non-stop encyclopedia that just makes you shake your head and say I didn’t know that, and now I must find out more information about that situation. That takes you in another direction once you fact check that situation.

Ah man the history is beautiful to me!

2. Describe any memorable experiences that made you fall in love with Hip Hop; made you proud of it; and/or changed your life?

I guess I would have to say when I heard a Cold Crush [Brothers] tape. I don’t think it was the very first tape I heard, but it was the first tape that left a very big impression on me. When they rhymed on the mic, they said things I thought and wished I could say. They said things with such confidence as well it just rolled off of their tongues. They had the crowd respond to them very favorably. Then those beats that they rhymed to were hard but exciting! Then those routines they were saying, the majority of them, I had no idea what they were saying until later, but I dug the melody; the rhyme of what they were saying. I was hooked!

I guess what made me proud of it was there were times when the real performers such as Moe, Caz, or Mel, and the performers associated with them, made adults around me nod their head, because those same adults at times would say what is that bull s— you are listening to!

I guess the moment it came into my life I went into a direction of not just sports but those tapes. I lived in Harlem so it was hard to get those tapes from the Bronx. When you did luck up and find those tapes it was like gold! What made it real hard to get tapes back then is no one had the double cassette tape deck, so sometimes you were actually buying an original, and it seemed as though some brothers would sell theirs once they got tired of theirs.
Me, I would never part with a tape!

3. Who has been a major influence or inspiration to you in the Hip Hop culture and why?

Caz, JDL, and Dota Rock! Those rhymes by Caz were great, easy to follow, and you wanted to remember them to say for your self. JDL had that confidence that was out of this world, and he had a voice that stood out. From 1979 to 1982 I strongly believe Dota Rock was fourth best M.C. after Caz, Mel, and Moe. He had stories to tell; not one-liners, and they were interesting.

Those guys made me chase down tapes which enabled me to hear other M.C.s and D.J.s that I also got to enjoy. But those 3 guys really influenced me to want to find out more about Hip Hop. It was like they were Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp; gunslingers from the west; Frank Nitti and Al Capone; or a heavy weight champion boxer of the world.

4. What are some of your most memorable experiences where you believe you made an impression in the culture and its elements, or how you touched people’s lives?

Writing my interviews and having the tapes. It’s unfortunate I don’t have a website of my own because I would have done a whole lot more stories than I have done today. But my stories are read by many and the feed back is good. I have had brothers and sisters from all over the country and world give me great feed back about the work I have done.

One brother said I look forward to days of buying some bourbon and sitting back on a Saturday morning and just reading story after story and take me their.

Or people telling me they have printed my whole list of tapes and taken it to work and guys are discussing the list and getting flash backs.

Or even the pioneers going back and me asking them questions that they have not thought about in 20 years. And some of them getting very personal where I had to exclude some of things said because it is so personal.

5. How should the Hip Hop culture be imparted or passed down to the next generation?

Well I guess I am already passing it down by doing these interviews with the different pioneers and early players of Hip Hop. The majority of fans today have no idea of the history of Hip Hop and its beginnings. So by me doing these interviews, and being connected to websites and Facebook and Myspace, I am able to pass the information through to the masses.
Now I am serious about the history of Hip Hop that I do not care to give a little one page, 2 page interview with that player. Over time my interviews have gotten up to 40 pages long. So you are not just getting a little rough draft about the player, but you are seeing how he went through life to get to the point where he is now a legend worldwide or in his neighborhood. No matter how big, he still is one of the building blocks in Hip Hop.
Now with the tapes I look to search for those tapes for the rest of my life. That’s how much I really enjoy listening to them. Who knows one day those tapes will all be sitting in a museum for everyone to hear and use as a learning tool for colleges, universities, high school, etc. The tapes tell so much history.

6. Where does Hip Hop need improvement or change, and/or how should it evolve from your perspective?

Well I am looking forward to an M.C. to come out and change the whole landscape of Hip Hop by his lyrics, and his lyrics being very positive. Not preach just to shun M.C.s that rap about violence and everything negative that goes with it.

See, Jay Z choose the easy way in life. He followed the masses. It would have been a blessing if he chose Christ over the world. Meaning, if he would have said, “I got their ear now I am going to flip It on them and now I am going to talk about Green Peace, World hunger, economics, life, religion spirituality, pro-life, adoption, abstinence.” Sounds just like KRS1, but I believe the Hip Hop community would have listened because he had them locked! As well my meaning is stop talking about negativity and really rock them the way they did in the 60’s and 70 with party music.

And what happen to the groups? Everybody is solo! Also, where are the outside jams? There should be a United Nations of Hip Hop. Bambaataa, Caz, Kurtis Blow, and others tried to start it up but it didn’t go far. The M.C.s of today need to start that up!

7. What special projects are you doing today you would like the world to know about?

I am trying to get my own website and get my interviews out as well as play those tapes. I am now at my second site, but hopefully I will have my own vehicle and put out my own ideas and allow the origins of Hip Hop to truly shine!

I have had some colleges and universities that have reached out to me and want to do work with me. But we are in talks right now, and one of my requests is to have my own website and people able to assist me by typing up these interviews that I have.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do something; anything for Hip Hop. Love it!
Hit me at troylsmith21@hotmail.com.


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