Since making his mark in NYC hip hop radio back in the early 2000s, Troi Torain, aka Star of the “Star and Buc Wild” morning show, has established himself as an individual in the truest sense, unafraid to speak his mind and share his views regardless of what other people think.
After making the move to Philadelphia’s WPHI-FM (100.3) back in November, Torain has brought an aggressive new message that some believe directly contrasts the culture he resides in. To put it simply, he wants the people in Philadelphia to start snitching. NBC Philly spoke to Star about the motivation behind his movement, his views on hip-hop and what he believes are the best solutions to the violence that has gripped the City of Brotherly Love.
Where did the idea for the “Start Snitching” movement come from?
We all have a moral compass, at least those of us who are sane. But there are people who are not sane, that’s just the reality of our existence. I wanted to take a stand for what I feel is right by way of witnessing the harsh realities of the world. I’m from a very beautiful suburb in New Jersey. I never really experienced drama or random shootings or anything to that effect. I had a great childhood. It wasn’t until the early 80s, when I was in my teens that I migrated out to New York for business. I was living in the eye of the tornado, Crown Heights, or “Riot Heights” as we referred to it. I witnessed senseless acts upon others. This is what over a period of time any rational person has to take notice to. Their just comes a point where you ask, ‘How do I address this? If it all?’ A sensible man, who I claim to be, has to stand up. And that’s it. I’m standing up.
What has the reaction to the movement been like from the hip hop community?
Mostly positive. I’m mostly interested in the reactions from hardworking tax paying, law abiding people. The hip-hop community needs guidance. I’m not really looking for the younger hip-hop generation to sanction what it is that I’m doing. Hip-hop, the culture and the music for the most part have been babies leading babies. I can’t look to a baby for approval of what I know to be right. I dumped on hip-hop for a lot of years and people know that about me. I didn’t grow up really even liking the music or the culture. It took me awhile to get to the point where I’m at now. I’m proud of how I grew up, I wouldn’t know how to take an a**whooping. Hip-hop to me is something that I had to come to terms with. It didn’t push itself upon me. But that’s the long story short. I’m not looking for hip-hop’s sanction. In fact I’m standing up and saying ‘Hey, you got this s*** twisted.’
Do you think people in the hip hop industry have the responsibility to really be leaders and put out messages like the one that you’re making?
I don’t know and I don’t give a s***. Most artists are storytellers and that’s a good thing. Whether they’re telling a story that they see or they interpret. I don’t care what goes through their thought process. Again, I’m not looking for them to sanction me. Its nice if they do. Russell Simmons has endorsed me on his facebook and twitter page. He and I are very cool with each other. Reverend Al Sharpton has supported me. But their responsibility I imagine is to their craft first. And I respect that. I’m not calling people out because they don’t want to stand up for what I believe to be right. So whether they do it, whether they don’t is not really my concern at this point. I’m not really looking for them to join me hand in hand or arm in arm. I’m simply here doing radio in Philly and I know this town from way back. Not only was I syndicated here in 2004, 2005 and 2006, but I know the history of the black Philly Mafia, the Hilltop Hustlers and Cheltenham back in the 70s. So for the people today who don’t know how Philly has evolved, and it has evolved, this is a beautiful town. Old City makes the Village in New York City look like a small version. So seeing all that makes any rational person say “Hey, you know what? This type of stuff can’t go on here.”
Many people say that the “stop snitching” movement is caused by a genuine distrust between the average citizen and the police. Because of that distrust, do you think those people are justified in not speaking to the authorities?
There has to be a point where you look to greener pastures. There has to be. If we were to sit and pick apart every little nook and cranny that has been a speed bump or a pitfall in the past it will prevent us from moving forward. You can’t focus on the negative. And there are many people who have no choice but to focus on the negative because they have been conditioned wrong. It’s not about living in fear. If you don’t know that there is something around the corner for you much better than what you already have now then maybe you need to be reconditioned. So on the microphone that’s what I try to do, within all the pounding of Young Money and all the other beautiful artists of today, I try to offer a little something with my limited knowledge.
Some people also say that “stop snitching” doesn’t really refer to innocent victims but instead to criminals who’ve been caught and decide to “snitch” on their partners in crime for a lesser sentence. What do you think of that argument?
I don’t give a f**k about the stop snitching movement. Everybody’s a snitch. Everybody who’s on youtube is a snitch to some degree. So what is snitching? Snitching has a long lineage of misconstrued double talk that tries to determine and tell other people what is “cool” or acceptable or what is a street code. If Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, who was laying people out, gave up John Gotti then what are you talking about? If you’re on the corner down in West Philly and you got cracks in your butt cheek, and you’re trying to define what snitching is, well the guy in Cosa Nostra, the Mafia, has already shown you what it is when it comes right down to it. If you’re on your mobile device and you’re at an event or an affair and you’re putting up on twitter who you’re there with and they haven’t told you that you can say you’re here with me, to some degree you’re snitching, you’re giving up information. I’m not concerned with that. I’m talking about homicides. Your girl, your aunt, somebody else’s sister, somebody’s hardworking taxpaying, law abiding, husband sitting in a bar, having a drink after he’s worked a hard week, getting shot in the neck. That’s what I’m talking about. Whatever animal shot him, I want that animal in a penitentiary. I don’t give a f*** about rehabilitating that animal. Just put him in the penitentiary and let other sharper minds worry about whether or not he needs to be rehabilitated or how if at all he needs to be pampered by the state. But for the rest of us who want to go to College, get an education, enjoy the beauty of America, we want something done. And that’s what “start snitching” is about.
Being in New York for so many years before coming to Philly, how does the crime in both cities compare?
Philly appears to be a little bit more graphic in their approach. I don’t know if it’s an allegiance to more insane violence, I hope not. But when you see 7-month pregnant women getting shot in the back, sitting on a porch, when you see people under the age of 10 getting shot that are playing at playgrounds, something’s wrong. Is it so much economics? Well, I say no, because black people have always been without in certain urban areas. But now you have other things to look forward to. You have a man of color in the White House, you have a beautiful first lady. He’s an intelligent man so clearly, there’s better examples then what there was years ago. So why do the crimes appear to be more graphic? I’m not saying that a murder in New York City is any less than a murder in Philly. But when you compare the numbers and the ratio of homicides within a short period of time, Philly’s ahead. 170 murders since January out of 1.4 million people in comparison to around 8 million people that are at 214 murders, its eyebrow raising to say the least.
As far as getting the movement out there, do you plan on working with Russell Simmons or Al Sharpton who both have shown you support?
Yes, those are great men. I’m working with everybody. I’m working with the police, and anybody else who wants to work with me via my platform. I’m going to be reaching out to other people, not just artists but people who I feel want to have a connection to what it is that is now on the table. This is on the table, this has picked up traction so fast that its even got me now realizing that not only is it the right place at the right time, but that I have to keep the momentum going and at the same time try to show other people that the margins need to be adjusted of what has been the “poorly acceptable past.”
Do you have any events planned as far as rallies or school visits?
I’m anxious to do all that. I’m anxious, ready, willing and able to do all that. We have a press conference that we’re trying to organize right now, hopefully at city hall next week. If not we’ll do it right out in the street. This is not just a mind state but also a reality and you have to take the chances. I’m listening to people who have had losses much greater than mine by way of biological children or family members. I’m trying to see how I can fit in where I’m needed. That’s important.
What’s your ultimate goal with this movement?
I would like to see it instilled in the minds and the hearts of the younger generations coming up that hopefully are a lot smarter, and I do believe that they are a lot smarter. That’s the goal. To instill better morals values and ethics in those minds and hearts. Because everybody who picked up a microphone who you may have thought was, and maybe is to some degree, a great artist, there’s still work that they can do and if they haven’t done it then hopefully the next generation will come up and say, ‘hey you know what? We’re not going to stand for this sh** and here’s a reason why we’re not going to stand for this ignorance.’ So it’s not really a personal goal or objective. So over all, I hope that the movement picks up more traction and the wheels spin a lot faster.