“They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” is the lead single from Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s debut album Mecca and the Soul Brother. The song pays tribute to their friend Troy “Trouble T-Roy” Dixon, who was a back-up dancer for Heavy D & The Boyz when he died after an accidental fall following a show in 1990. He was 22 years old.
In a 2010 interview with XXL magazine commemorating the 20 year anniversary of Trouble T-Roy’s passing, CL Smooth talked about his process for writing the song:
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]. […] My whole plight was to make the best record possible for people to like, for people to respect and know it’s genuine.
In a 2011 interview with Complex, Pete Rock talked about the creation of the track:
I found the record [for the sample] when I was digging with Large Professor. I made the base of the beat at my house, and I finished the rest at his house using his SP-950. […] CL came up with the lyrics even before I came up with the beat. He didn’t have the beat [to write to]. He already had the song written. The beat made me emotional so I figured it would work. When the lyrics came together with the music, that was the match made in heaven. Thank God it matched the way it did. It was a great outcome.
The bassline and now-iconic saxophone riff were sampled from Tom Scott’s cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Today.” The drums were sampled from James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and the song’s intro was sampled from “When She Made Me Promise” by The Beginning of the End.
“T.R.O.Y.” topped Billboard’s Hot Rap Tracks chart and reached #58 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song has become a hip-hop classic from the ‘90s boom bap/jazz rap era. It has been referenced by numerous artists, while also being featured on several “best of” lists, including The Source’s 100 Best Rap Singles of All Time as well as Rolling Stone ranking the song #12 on their list of the 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time and #430 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.