"Star & Buc Wild" Shock Jock Troi Torain Wants You to Start Snitching

By Michael Alan Goldberg
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 29 | Posted Jan. 4, 2012

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Regardless of how the meaning got twisted—street thugs using witness intimidation to protect their own hides; hip-hop sending out a message that anyone in league with the po-po for any reason isn’t to be trusted; or the media getting it wrong and broadcasting misinformation—for the current generation, “Stop Snitching” is understood to mean that if you see something and say something, you’re liable to catch a slug as payback.

That’s the attitude Murphy’s trying to quell. “People have a responsibility to tell,” he insists, “and we’ve stopped educating our youth about civic values—your roles and responsibilities as a citizen.”

It’s the same message Dorothy Johnson-Speight, founder of Mothers in Charge—the organization of local women who’ve lost children to street violence (Bowser joined not long after her son’s murder)—has been struggling to deliver for a decade. She estimates that of the hundreds of mothers in her group, at least half of the homicides that claimed their kids remain unsolved, many because of “no snitching.”

Two weeks ago, Mothers in Charge, joined by the PPD, led a large motorcade around the city to denounce the escalating homicide rate. Along the way, they stopped to read the names of the murdered and essentially beg people to talk to the police if they have information about a killing—to help bring closure and begin to heal a mother’s grief.

“That code of the street makes me so angry because nobody should have that kind of loyalty to criminals,” says Johnson-Speight, whose 24-year-old son Khaaliq was shot in 2001 by a man who’d killed 19-year-old Justin Donnelly six months earlier, but remained out on the streets because witnesses wouldn’t “snitch” to the police. “It’s a mentality they have that’s very hard to penetrate,” she says, “so trying to convey our message [of cooperation] is always a challenge.”

Ross knows that frustrating feeling all too well. “I never turn down an opportunity to talk to young kids, but I realize that most of them are not paying me any attention,” he laments. That’s why he was thrilled when Torain approached him and Mayor Nutter to get behind “Start Snitching,” and invited them on “Star & Buc Wild” last summer to talk about the campaign.

 “He’s one of those guys that can touch them in ways that we can’t, since he’s got a lot of credibility with the youth,” says Ross, whose daughter is a dedicated “Star & Buc Wild” fan, going back to when the show was syndicated on Power 99 from 2004 to 2006. “I had to get up every morning listening to it whether I wanted to or not,” he laughs. “[Torain] calls things like they are. Sometimes it made me cringe a little bit,” Ross adds, alluding to Torain’s liberal use of the N-word and rough street slang.

In fact, Torain’s initial meeting with Nutter and Ross had to be brokered by Barry Mayo and E. Steven Collins—widely respected bigwigs at urban media giant Radio One, which owns 100.3FM—because Torain’s outrageous and sometimes disturbing reputation had preceded him. The NYPD arrested him in 2006 after he made on-air threats to urinate on the 4-year-old daughter of radio rival DJ Envy and offered listeners $500 to tell him what school the girl attended. In 2001, he was suspended by Hot 97 after he broke the news of the death of R&B star Aaliyah with sound effects of a plane crash and a woman screaming. And during a 2004 gag gone way wrong, he dialed a call center in India and proceeded to call the customer service woman a “bitch” and a “rat-eater,” garnering widespread condemnation and a suspension from Power 99.

“I’ve said some fucked-up shit on the radio,” Torain admits. “People hear my name and they go, ‘Whoa, that guy. Whoa, whoa.’ So [Nutter and Ross] were looking at me at first, like, ‘I don’t know about this guy’ … but within three minutes I convinced them that I’m a serious guy and I was here to assist in Philly.”

Though he’s ramping things up with the Internet TV show, Torain’s “Start Snitching” campaign goes back nearly 10 years, when he started promoting a pro-snitching ethos on the air at Hot 97. “There was no single case, no great epiphany,” he says. “It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do ever since I first started doing radio. I have a fascination with crimefighting.”

Torain’s a walking paradox. Growing up in an upper class household in Scotch Plains, N.J., he went to private schools, had an in-ground swimming pool, “got a brand-new moped every year,” and was the only black kid in his neighborhood into heavy metal and playing ice hockey. And yet, he says, when this seemingly soft, coddled kid started running on the crime side of New York in the early ’80s, “I never got my ass kicked, but I kicked a lot of niggas’ asses who were from the projects. A lot of niggas’ asses. I pistol-whipped people. I choked motherfuckers out. I beat motherfuckers’ asses on Nostrand Ave. in Brooklyn.”

He says that for most of the ’80s and into the ’90s, he snorted mountains of cocaine and committed various petty crimes. “There have been situations in my life where I could’ve gone to prison for five or 10 years,” he says. “But I’ve been a clean, rational man for many, many years now.”

In cleaning himself up and building the “Star & Buc Wild” brand from cable-access phenomenon to a syndicated radio juggernaut, he pulled off the singular feat of repping hip-hop to millions of listeners daily and being a central, celebrated figure in the hip-hop world, all the while ruthlessly criticizing myriad aspects of that world which he found objectionable.

He’s bringing a similar mindset to Start Snitching . “I’m addressing this from inside hip-hop, from the eye of the tornado, deep inside the culture that’s responsible for this ‘no snitching’ bullshit,” says Torain, noting that too many rappers are trying to “keep up the old gangsta persona” to make money, regardless of the ramifications their rhymes have on the street.

“I’ve spent a lot of years grindin’ that microphone,” he says. “People know I know what I’m talking about, they know where I’ve been and what I’ve done, and they’re gonna listen to me and respect what I have to say.”

“He’s fearless, and when he gets involved in something he gives his all, so I know it’s gonna be huge,” says Helene Sola—aka “White Trash Helene,” one of Torain’s sidekicks on “Star & Buc Wild” since 2004—who says he’s got a knack for relating to the kids that they need to absorb his message. “He knows the dance moves, he knows the forms, the lyrics … He looks like he’s 25 years old, he dresses like them. He knows what’s up, and he doesn’t talk down to them but he tells it like it is.”

Torain says the 30-minute show—the first episode of which is still in production and doesn’t have a firm air date yet, other than “mid-January”—will be a serious affair, which is why he’s divorcing himself from the Star name and persona.

“It’s going to be very similar to Bill O’Reilly or Nancy Grace,” he says. “I’ll be sitting at a desk. I’m not gonna be dropping F-bombs and N-words. It’s gonna be a very upscale show.”

Assisted by a small staff, including four NYPD officers acting as consultants, Torain will show sometimes-graphic footage of unsolved murders and other crimes—“people need to see what’s really going on out there”—and try to persuade viewers to snitch. The idea, he explains, isn’t just to right moral compasses, it’s about appealing to self-interest, too. “The animal you let get away with murder might come after you or your family next, even if you don’t say anything.”

He intends to keep moralizing to a minimum. “I’m not telling you to pull your pants up,” says Torain. “I’m not telling you how to wear your hair. I don’t care if you smoke weed, or if you drop it like it’s hot. I just don’t want motherfuckers out on the streets pullin’ triggers and people getting shot down. I’m not trying to hear little savages shootin’ up a SEPTA bus in North Philly. That’s all. John Walsh isn’t out there telling people how to hold a fork at the table. He just wants to get the bad guys off the streets.”

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Comments 1 - 29 of 29
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1. Anonymous said... on Jan 4, 2012 at 11:14AM

“Yes, I'll will start snitching. The City illegally dug up a contaminated site in East Mt Airy and displaced neighbor from her house and when doctors asked to have her removed, they proceeded to secretly truck away dirty dirt and started series of hate crimes against that neighbor, refusing protection, left her ill and homeless, deny all civil rights and have been seriously abusing their power to harm her as much as possible. These are felonies committed by the leadership of Philadelphia.”

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2. D Rock 215 said... on Jan 4, 2012 at 04:42PM

“I think this is a great look for hip hop. Im really tired of people in my hood acting like killing and robbing is so cool. I also would like to see rappers talk about something other than money and hoes.”

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3. Rasheid said... on Jan 4, 2012 at 05:11PM

“You know what? Busta Rhymes IS a fucking idiot! How can he watch a bodyguard get gunned down, yet he acts like he doesn't know what happened? It's a fucking shame! I'm down with Star!”

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4. The Mouth of the South said... on Jan 4, 2012 at 05:14PM

“Start snitching is a GREAT MOVEMENT! I believe in the message being sent here. Being "hood" doesn't mean you have to be heartless. Lets stop disrespecting the neighborhoods we come from and start promoting positive change. Its a bad time to be a savage, cause we are not going to live in fear anymore!”

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5. NY Larry said... on Jan 4, 2012 at 05:25PM

“If Start Snitching isn't your thing think of it as showing G morals .If you look at all gangs all movemens they all have the foundation "No women, no kids, no schools"If your gonna keep it "gangsta" really! keep it gangsta. I mean don't thugs watch the Godfather?”

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6. white devil said... on Jan 4, 2012 at 06:09PM

“you are not snitching when you make a witness statement to a crimnal action that you have no part of or face no charges from you are making a statement that ones poor chose of opening fire in a public place is unacceptable conduct.jails are made for envious stick up kids who think robbing and stealing is there way to the top and shitheads who shoot into crowds over spilled drinks or wrong clothing color.also if your out there doing crimes popmusic aka hiphop is no career choice.it is sickning to see nobodies on social media professing and confessing to there indiscreations over a beat.it stupid an assine.lastly rap music is not black america”

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7. Spit said... on Jan 4, 2012 at 11:26PM

“I fully support this start snitching movement. What people don't overstand is that until a movement such as this becomes what is popular & "cool" for your children to follow, your children will continue running around with criminal "swag" & follow behind rappers, athletes & drug dealers posing as either or. The real crime is not caring enough to report senseless acts of violence against senior citizens & children.”

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8. kokoccino said... on Jan 5, 2012 at 05:46AM

“I support start snitching no doubt however what kind of protection will the neighbors receive from these silly worthless punks who hide behind guns? Otherwise their will b more murders etc....seen in the past. I have no children nor husband & i have & will continue to put my life on the line to help a mother or father who lost their innocent children who were succumb by crossfire bullets, mistaken identity, robbery, or just walking to a store & the worthless punks feening to exercise their so called quality guns by shooting people. Also, the weed, the new so called hip hop music that we r forced to hear in the streets via blasting vehicles r doing nothing but brainwashing, perpetuating, supporting those drug induced minds to simply kill a man, woman or child w/no conscious, remorse, or concerns. These silly punks think its a video game which prompts another argument to be later discussed. Many of our children have weaks minds, leaving them more susceptible to senseless behavior.”

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9. Steven Van Patten said... on Jan 7, 2012 at 07:35PM

“I completely support Star's 'No Snitching Movement.' It's time someone took a stand against this sort of pervasive ignorance. I also agree that some Hip Hop artists and their glorification of criminal acts and nonsense need to be held accountable.”

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10. Milo Cronos said... on Jan 8, 2012 at 09:01AM

“Torain is on the right path while Reef is spewing the same garbage that keeps the criminals on the top of the food chain and has destroyed West and North Philly, Kensington,Etc; When someone is killed those questions like,Do you know them or What is your association to them? is called investigating You Dumb Fuck! and everyone gets asked it. Just like the husband is the first suspect in an accidental death of his spouse, it moves the investigation forward. Live in Silence and Die Ignorant then!”

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11. Paul O'Neil said... on Jan 9, 2012 at 07:26PM

“Ok, count me in but will I be considered a racist if I say that I think 80% of all urban communities are dedicated to crime, violence and overly aggressive behavior? I consider myself to be very liberal but at the same time to be honest, I’m terrified of young black males at 3pm while they walk home from school. Too many times have I’ve been the victim of hatred at the hands of angry blacks simply because I’m white and skinny. Ill spare you my personal horrors but I can only imagine how fast fights and shootings escalate in the hood over a simple game of checkers. As I said I’m all in as long as I dont have to march and get shot by a fourteen year old for speaking up.”

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12. PhillyRube said... on Jan 9, 2012 at 08:47PM

“In order for these youngsters to get it threw their thick heads that snitching is a good thing. We need slogans Like "Snitches Get Bitches!!"

Just a thought..”

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13. anonymous said... on Jan 9, 2012 at 11:01PM

“Milos, if you hadnt realized posting the same comment 5 times doesnt make you right. stop that shit you look pathetic like an impatient child.

regardless of that, i dont think you even read what reef had to say in the first place. well based on the comment i KNOW that actually.

its the opinions like yours that prevent real work from getting done. reef is right you cant just make a campaign and have all the past issues go away, and when people just expect that to work, nothing gets done because the people can, and will ignore the people who tell them to snitch when they have no reason to stray from the pattern. meaning unless police change their values and acions aswell people are just gonna be walkin into a death trap every time they try to do the right thing”

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14. Global S.E.T said... on Jan 10, 2012 at 04:13PM

“We stand behind Mr. Torains movement to start snitching and help solve so many heinous crimes committed in our neighborhoods. Baltimore City where the infamous "stop snotching dvd" was released is the perfect place to advocate Mr. Torains movement.”

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15. Yitzchak said... on Jan 12, 2012 at 09:16PM

“@ Paul O'Neil: "Ok, count me in but will I be considered a racist if I say that I think 80% of all urban communities are dedicated to crime, violence and overly aggressive behavior?" ---------- Yes, yes you would. And it would be the truth. Really, think about it. Do you have any idea how much crime, murder, and mayhem there would be in this city if 80% (EIGHTY PER-CENT!) of all urban (and, really, you ought to just say "black," because that's what you mean) communities were "dedicated to crime, violence, and overly aggressive behavior"? The savages would be all over the map, and your "white and skinny" ass would really be in trouble. You probably think that you can't be racist if you date a black chick, don't you?

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16. Paul O'Neil said... on Jan 13, 2012 at 10:02PM

“@ Yitzchak thanks for adding fuel to the already existing fire but I’m genuinely concerned about teen violence and the murder rate here in Philly. Id like to apologize to you and any one else that I may have offended by my comments but I was being honest about being scared of aggressive blacks who seem set on making my life a living hell when walking in my direction on a sidewalk. At 36 years of age Ive been told by people off all races that I give off great vibes so I try to stay positive. Also I’m not giving up on black people who believe in “Stop Snitching” I just don’t know the right things to say. Sorry again.”

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17. Yitzchak said... on Jan 14, 2012 at 12:45AM

“@ Paul O'Neil: To tell you the truth, I don't doubt that you're genuinely concerned about teen violence and the murder rate in Philly, but the fact is, you can't make extraordinary claims like the one you made, without adducing evidence to support your claim, and not expect to be excoriated for it. I mean, hell, I'm a black man, and I'm probably (but not necessarily) more familiar with with the black community than you are, and I'm aware of a certain segment of the black community, and I wouldn't have made the claim that you made. By the way, are "aggressive black males" (which you used in your first post) the equivalent of "young black men" (which you used in your second post)? Do you see where I'm going with this?”

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18. Anonymous said... on Jan 14, 2012 at 12:58AM

“@ Paul O'Neil (cont'd): And, anyway, not that I wish to gainsay that there are some young black men who get off on scaring the daylights out of random whites (though, if my 42 years of experience is any indication, I realize that black men can frighten white folks simply by dint of their existence), but do you believe that all young black men are out to pick on you? If you don't, then you need to figure out a better way of conveying exactly what it is you wish to say. You say that people of all races have told you that you give off good vibes. Okay, that's cool, but I've been around long enough to know that people don't always emit the same aura in different situations. In other words, when you encounter young black men (or any black men, who knows?) whom you don't know, you might exhibit the kind of body language that indicates the extreme discomfort with unknown black men that your posts suggest you feel.”

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19. Yitzchak said... on Jan 14, 2012 at 01:00AM

“@ Paul O'Neil: You probably realize this, but the previous post (12:58 AM) was from me as well.”

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20. Brian Gallagher said... on Jan 14, 2012 at 01:57AM

“Hey Paul O'Neil don’t worry, I get what you’re saying and I’m sure others here do as well. Your apology is accepted. By the way, great movement lets hope it makes a dent in the new homicides as of late.”

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21. Kenny 215 said... on Jan 14, 2012 at 01:06PM

“Awesome initiative. I just hope this has an effect on the Flash Mob kids who stabbed my friend Daniel Giordano six times at the King Of Prussia mall last year simply because he was holding hands with his boyfriend. I commend Troi Torain for taking this stand because I’m a med student in Philly who’s scared to go to parties off campus out of fear for my life.

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22. Katlyn South Philly said... on Jan 15, 2012 at 10:57AM

“I pay taxes, I vote, I’m white and I’m not afraid to speak up. No matter how you slice it this campaign is a great thing. I’m terrified of young adults on the streets, especially the black ones. Is that a racist statement, you betcha! The senseless aggression that generates through rap music reflects the pulse of its audience. I don’t care what foundation it was built upon or how and if its message got lost. I’m concerned with what it feeds impressionable minds that my granddaughter has to deal with growing up. Btw, two black kids punched her in the face in her fifth grade class because they didn’t like her hairstyle and coat. There’s a real problem in the African American structure of core values and saying that in a public forum doesn’t make me prejudice nor will any one make me feel guilty of my feelings. Rather than trying to attack me here, Ill suggest you make a better effort to clean up your backyards.”

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23. Yitzchak said... on Jan 16, 2012 at 11:23AM

“@ Katlyn: I'm very sorry to hear about what happened to your granddaughter, and I won't make any excuses for those animals-in-training. I do hope that she will recover and not allow this incident to rob her of any sense of innocence and egalitarianism that she possesses. I do, however, have to ask you: WHICH African-American structure of core values? You see, as far as I'm aware, no one in MY middle-class (or even formerly poor, South Carolina, farming, coming of age under Jim Crow) African-American family has attacked white people (or anyone else, for that matter) without provocation, and I know other African-Americans who haven't either. So, which African-Americans are you talking about?”

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24. John Bigelow said... on Jan 16, 2012 at 01:14PM

“I love the idea and fully support the campaign. Crime is a such a big problem in the community where i'm from in North Philly and its just as bad in Florida. We as a people must stop looking at informing the police of crimes that has been committed and unsolved as a bad thing. We (the poor) wont exist too much longer if we keep protecting the criminals that tear our neighborhoods apart. I've been a follower of Mr. Torain for many years. He can show us how to make a diffrence. Just listen and support him.”

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25. Anonymous said... on Jan 16, 2012 at 02:08PM

“I agree and support this Start Snitching movement, The No snitching movement did nothing but hurt the culture and community. We all need to put a end to this and make sure this awareness goes national and beyond.”

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26. Barry Edison said... on Jan 24, 2012 at 02:21PM

“@PhillyRube Right On Brother!!!!!!!”

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27. Anonymous said... on Feb 6, 2012 at 08:21PM

“Nice that City Hall listened to Torain- they ignored me four years ago when I tried to get them interested in a citywide media project on this -and I have the letters to the Mayor, the Police Commisioner, DM Gillison and various reporters to prove it. The YouTube video I put together with an original song was, for awhile at least, the lone voice on YouTube in favor of snitching: look up "SNITCH FOR ME-Jamila's Lullaby." And it you're in contact with Torain, please pass this on- he needs to see it.”

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28. Alex Martinez said... on Feb 23, 2012 at 10:17AM

“@Anonymous I’ve been a long time supporter of Torain and his Star and Bucwild show since 2002. As far as I can remember he’s been pushing this “Start Snitching” agenda. You pushing a rap song on Youtube and now crying about it is just another a poor example of bickering amongst blacks in America… grow up! Maybe City Hall in Philly didn’t listen to you due to the same aura that you’ve displayed here which is disgruntled and non productive. Better yet, did you ever consider that your song is garbage?”

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29. Goddess said... on Oct 4, 2012 at 08:35PM

“What's Star talkin bout? DIdn't he start the Stop Snitchin Campaign??? He started it with DX21. Star a fool..”


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