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Cowboy Troy Biography
A six-foot five-inch, hick-hop artist is going to get a
response, and Cowboy Troy is okay with the strong reactions and endless
questions. I have crazy intentions, he says with a grin, referencing
the title of his Raybaw Records/Warner Bros. Records debut album Loco Motive.
Music, after all, is supposed to be entertaining, and Loco Motive
is nothing if not fun. But anyone who thinks the Cowboy Troy experience
ends there, doubts his country credentials, or is inclined to dismiss
the album as a novelty, is in for quite a surprise. People have
different paths, Troy says. I'm not going to apologize for my music,
because this is who I am. I didn't just wake up one morning, put on a
cowboy hat, and get a gig rapping on a country album. You don't do
something for 15 years on a lark.
Cowboy Troy rapped his way into the country mainstream on the first cut of Big & Rich's 2004 debut Horse Of A Different Color.
And while his admonition to let go of all your preconceived notions
certainly wasn't the first time elements of rap had been incorporated
into country, it was the boldest statement yet.
Explaining the journey that placed Troy Coleman at this unlikely
intersection is as complicated as explaining the evolution of American
culture. At the same time it's as simple as the story of a kid from
Texas who did what all kids do--he soaked up the world around him.
Troy grew up in Ft. Worth, where his dad took him to rodeos and stock
shows. We'd listen to Willie Nelson, Jerry Reed, Charlie Daniels,
Kenny Rogers, and other artists who were getting airplay on the adult
contemporary stations at that time, Troy says. I didn't realize it
was country music, I just knew it was what my parents listened to
before they went to work in the morning.
His teenage years coincided with the emergence of MTV, and Troy was
hooked from the start. Moving to Dallas at 13, he was introduced to a
new sound. My friends were like, 'What's all that you're listening
to?' I thought everybody listened to Def Leppard, but they turned me on
to rap. That's where Run DMC came in.
As a freshman psychology major at the University Of Texas, Troy had a
musical epiphany. I was listening to Metallica, the grunge stuff out
of Seattle, all kinds of things, he says. People in the dorm asked
me, 'Have you heard of Garth Brooks?' I said, 'Who?' A buddy lent me a
George Strait CD and I was blown away. I remember telling myself that
this is what I need to be listening to.
My first college concert was Strait at the Frank Erwin Center in
Austin, he continues. The crowd went absolutely nuts as soon as he
stepped out on stage. The atmosphere was unbelievable and that's when I
really began to nurture my country fetish.
A cowboy hat and western shirt became part of his arsenal, as did a few
stock raps he could do at the country dance clubs he began to frequent.
It was a pretty neat party trick, Troy laughs. It was just a fun
thing to do while I was out running around. But by my sophomore year I
was writing my own stuff. His notoriety grew to the point that people
began asking club DJs if they'd seen Troy, Cowboy Troy. The name just
stuck, he says.
After college, Troy worked as a human resources consultant, but kept up
with music by performing in the area and continuing to write songs.
When his mother died from cancer in 2001, he reassessed every aspect of
his life and recommitted himself to his music. Six months later he
released a three-song EP called Hick Hop Hysteria. I've still got stacks of boxes, he laughs. They make great beer coasters and Frisbees.
That effort was followed by Beginner's Luck,
self-produced and marketed on consignment at area record stores. That
was a full-length album, Troy says. It had a combination of live
tracks and programmed beats. I liked the live tracks better.
Troy soon began making trips to Nashville, bringing music to friend
John Rich, who he first met in a Dallas club in 1993, and becoming a
regular at gatherings of the newly formed MuzikMafia. The loose
association of artists and musicians became a creative breeding ground
that spawned not only Big & Rich, but Gretchen Wilson, and now,
The success of Big & Rich's now-double-platinum album led to major
media appearances for Troy including the ACM and CMA awards shows in
2004. Troy also ended up on tour with Tim McGraw, performing during Big
& Rich's opening set and later with McGraw himself. A record deal
Loco Motive is the first release from MuzikMafia's Raybaw
Records, an imprint of Warner Bros./Nashville. The name stands for red
and yellow, black and white and refers to the cultural and musical
diversity embraced by the MuzikMafia. Taking that sentiment even
further is Troy's penchant for foreign languages, represented on the
album by raps in English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Russian,
and Mandarin Chinese.
As much as Loco Motive pushes
the envelope, there's no arguing the fact that, thematically, it's a
country record. Honkytonk rockers like My Last Yee Haw and El
Tejano are interspersed with emotional ballads including Somebody's
Smilin' On Me and If You Don't Wanna Love Me. Further, the
collection offers relatable slice-of-life tales drawn from Troy's own
experiences, be it Ain't Broke Yet or Crick In My Neck. Guests
include MuzikMafia mates Sarah Buxton ( If You Don't Wanna Love Me ),
James Otto ( Beast On The Mic ), and Big & Rich on numerous cuts.
Tim McGraw lends his vocals to Somebody's Smilin' On Me.
Troy knows he's challenging conventional thinking about what country
music is, but expects that his music will find its place. I've never
been like everybody else and it wouldn't do me any good to try, he
says. Some people are going to love it and some are going to hate it,
which is probably how it should be because it means they're talking.
A lot of work has gone into this, and a lot of fun was had in the
process, he adds. I hope people who buy this record have a good time,
but I don't want anyone to think I don't take what I do seriously.
Because I do. I'm pretty proud of this record.
Written by Record Label