Miss2Bees: So before we get into it, I want to know how you’ve been holding up during the quarantine?
Troy: Um, the quarantine hasn’t affected me because this is what I do anyway. Like I’m always at the house, so our studio was in the basement. Um, you know what I mean? So it doesn’t affect me. Got all the food that I need and you know, so I’ve been pretty good
Miss2Bees: And probably a perfect time to work on some new music. Have you been doing that?
Troy: I mean, again, I, I did what I do. I don’t, right. I don’t need something to happen to do to make me do what I’ve already, you know, been doing. So it doesn’t, it doesn’t put me in the frame of mind of good, you know like I’m really like get to work. I’ve always gotten to work and you’ve been putting in that work for at least 30 years.
Miss2Bees: Right. And R&B has been a hot topic for a while, especially ever since Jacquees claimed that he was the King of R&B. Who do you personally consider as the King?
Troy: Well, first of all, there’s no such thing as a King or queen of R&B, there’s no such thing as one person being something that is meant for talented people, period. So Jacquees can say that. And it’s okay for him to say that because if you feel that that’s where he is, no one can tell him how to feel about him. So you don’t have to agree, but you can’t tell the man. He can’t feel that way. If you feel that way. So that’s how I feel. I like, you know, if you feel like you would have King of r&b and that’s what it is period. But don’t get mad, nobody agrees.
Miss2Bees: Exactly. You had the honor of working with him and the greats like Aretha Franklin, Patty LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Ivy brothers. The list goes on and on. What is your funniest or fondest memory from working with any of these legends that you can share?
Troy: Well, um, you have to pick one
Miss2Bees: All right. Whitney
Troy: Whitney. Very, very, very, very hilarious. Um, very hood. Um, I uh, did when I did the Christmas, I worked on a Christmas project. I recorded, I did an audio recording of me recording her so you can hear her going off on me, like being mad at me cause I was pushing her. Um, that was in 2003 and you know, the rumors about Whitney being on drugs and everything and how she, how she was back then, you know, she really looked, you know, kind of like, wow, something could happen to her. So that’s what motivated me to want to be able to have that moment in time. Of course, she didn’t pass til what, 2012? I think it was. Um, yeah, but still it was like, you know, one of those things where I didn’t know back then, you know what I mean? Like, but she was so funny, so hilarious. We had so much fun and I just like, like I said, I had that moment in time, you know what I mean? Captured. So, um, that was that. And then who else pick somebody else
Miss2Bees: What about Ms. Patty LaBelle.
Troy: Um, Patty. Okay. Because Patty’s a Gemini like me, we were good because, uh, we understood each other. You know, she let me push her, um, we clicked
Miss2Bees: Hmm Gemini. I’m an Aquarius, we’re supposedly compatible.
Troy: Yeah. So I heard
Miss2Bees: I’ve noticed your mayor of R&B campaign and I would love to know as the mayor, what are your thoughts on the current state of the genre?
Troy: Um, okay. So right now, you know, um, I’m not, I’m not one of the people from my generation who complains about the conditions of R&B. Um, my attitude is, you know, what made me start the campaign is just, you know, inserting myself with the generation of now and, you know, adding to the flavor of today’s music to help them if it’s that loud.
Miss2Bees: Um, yeah, it is,
Troy: I’ll stop it. Um, that just inserting myself into the generation of now to help them, um, understand and add to the arrangements to get that feel, to try to get that feel of R&B, you know what I mean? Um, to, to help, you know, because they don’t know how to do changes, turnarounds, uh, really, cause, you know, they don’t, they just, it’s not what they do. So I’ve offered myself to be in that position to help them, you know, uh, just to get the quality of R&B back to its original state.
Miss2Bees: I love that mentality because I feel like a lot of veterans, they do a lot of complaining instead of, um, mentorship or guiding us. So that definitely explains why Jacquees has that sound and YK Osiris has that sound because you have worked with both of these emerging R&B artists. So that makes a whole lot of sense. Um, do you have other R&B artists we should be listening out for.
Troy: Okay, so I have Devin culture who’s from Philly and we call him the young Maxwell because it is right. He has that, that flavor, that falsetto that even Maxwell himself likes that Maxwell is actually a fan of that as well. Um, so he’s the soulful part. Um, a PTU, the young Soulful part. And then I have Edward Beck. He would be like the urban, you know, the urban mainstream on the like Chris brown like that. So one soulful, soulful young youthful, soulful. And then one urban. So urban RB, that’s my building, my two projects that I’m like hands-on with,
Miss2Bees: I’ll keep a lookout for that cause I’m always on the lookout for some new R&B.
Miss2Bees: So I also read that Trey Songz is gearing up to rerelease Anticipation [mixtape] 1 and 2 on streaming platforms which you’ve had a hand in. So I’m wondering how you heard from him, cause I noticed that Instagram was disabled and I hope all is well.
Troy: Wow. Yeah, he just wanted to get off of social media for a while. That’s all.
Miss2Bees: Okay. Everybody needs a break to recharge here and there.
Troy : Yeah, because you know social media will really, really, really mess you up if you’re really like into it like that. You know what I mean? It’ll really mess you up and make you feel like you’re not doing anything or you’re not doing enough or you know, so he needed to do that a long time ago actually. I think.
Miss2Bees: Yeah, I think everyone in their tenure, like if you’re not emerging or trying to make a name for yourself, you don’t need to use it as much as the younger acts. Especially after the album Ready, which is my personal favorite. And you have, you’ve had a heavy hand in that project. And I would like to know how was it like to do things like, what was the creative process like? Creating panty dropper.
Troy : Um, so “Panty Dropper.” Honestly it was called “Heels On” first. It was almost close to the same hook but slightly different. And it had a bridge so when we altered the song we took, we changed, we, we gave it a little bit more urgency. So the first, first, you know, like had, and we added the balance the way, you know, uh, when you’re up in the club , it wasn’t that, um, it was just like a ballad. And, um, so we, we want to give it a little bit more urgency because we weren’t going to use the whole thing and we knew that. So we wanted me to start off really, you know, urgent. And then we took the bridge out. But now here’s the thing, I used to do my Ustream classes back in the day and back then. And so there are TTU classmates who remember as heels on, they know they like heels on and not panty dropper. They know that heels on was the original.
Miss2Bees: So when it was called “Heels On,” did it start off the same way?
Troy: Um, yes, yes, it did start off that way. Um, like every, like I said, pretty much everything was the same, but the first verse was different. The beat on the beat section was the same, but when the hook came in, it wasn’t, it was different. It’s slightly different.
Miss2Bees: And what about the creative process for “Neighbors Know My Name?”
Troy: So my “Neighbors Know My Name” started because, uh, Patrick guitar boy, it’s what we called him. Um, sent me some guitars and um, I couldn’t, I was putting in my logic and I was starting to be on it. And so before I really realized what I wanted to do with the kick, I kind of just had it in like a knocking pattern before I shaped it. And then it, you know, I had it turned up really loud, so it was like a, it was almost like the sound of someone banging on the wall while the guitars were going in. And so Trey came downstairs and was like, you know, it sounds like somebody, you know, like banging on the wall and then he asks, he’s joking around and laughing as we always do. A lot of his songs are like based off you know, him just playing around, he was like saying how it sounds like, you know, he beat it up and if neighbors can hear, you know what I mean? It’s, so he started playing around with the melodies and I’m like, yo, remember that? Like, that’s dope. And so we just slowly, you know, uh, had my boy S K with me, um, to put some chords down on it. And then I did the whole track is Trey kind of freestyle the song as he went.
Miss2Bees: Wow. So Neighbors Know My Name was like a freestyle. Wow I love that song. I love the entire album.
Troy: Thank you.
Miss2Bees: Was there ever a moment that you produced a beat for an artist and it was meant for someone but it went to someone else?
Troy: Yeah. Um, I worked with Mary J. Blige did two songs with her, one called, um, “Holding On” and another one called no matter what. And so she and I did those songs and she had gotten back like reunited with Puff. So when she reunited with Puff, his ideas of what the album was for her didn’t fit in the concept of those songs and she didn’t want to change the vibe. So she held on to them. And at the same time, I was working with Aretha Franklin, so, um, Aretha and I had had a great time. The first song we did. And so she said she wanted to hear more songs and so I was like, okay, great. And so I thought about it and I’m like, we got these two Mary songs, hit Mary up. And I was like, yo, what do you think about Aretha doing these songs? She was like, Oh bet. That’s definitely. So it worked out. Um, Aretha ended up doing [“Holding On”] on her album called So Damn Happy.
Miss2Bees: Wow. Mary is such a real one.
Miss2Bees: And you know everyone’s quarantined bored looking for entertainment and entertaining. And it’s so good to see a lot of heavy hitters like yourself who worked behind the scenes getting their flowers through the Instagram battles. So how was it seeing your mentee Johnta Austin beating neyo in their songwriting battle.
Troy: I mean, I don’t know. You saw the whole thing, right?
Troy: You saw me in the background jumping around, right?
Troy: That’s exactly, how I felt
Miss2Bees: I knew that that was going to be the outcome. All the people who knows their music, know. Like Johnta Austin’s really been putting in work since he was a teen.
Troy: But a lot of people didn’t know cause they know Ne-Yo so much and no one really ever seen Johnta on the scene. So they felt like, ‘Oh man, Ne-Yo going to kill him.’ They’re like, no, you have no idea.
Miss2Bees: Exactly right. And he wrote, sweet, that’s “Sweet Lady” dropped that one surprised a lot of people
Troy: Yeah he did the verses
Miss2Bees: Yeah, That was an the epic battle. I enjoy seeing this celebration of black music, especially during the time when there’s not much to do right now. Before we head out, do you have any advice for upcoming producers?
Troy: Um, I will say this is the time and this thing, this whole crisis that we’re in, this is the time to, to, to solidify yourself. This is the time to solidify who you want to be, where you want to go. This is the time to stack up and really, really honing your craft and perfected. Because right now everybody’s on the same page. There’s nobody ahead of anybody else. Everybody, all the artists are stuck. They can’t perform. Um, all the writers are in the studio just like everybody else, all the producers in the studio, like everybody else. So you really, everybody’s really in the same position right now. So this is the time to really, really perfect who you want to be.
This interview has been modified for length and clarity.