"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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But Torain won’t pull any punches with the rappers on his shit list. “I took my gloves off years ago,” he says. On the debut episode, Torain plans to call for a national boycott of Busta Rhymes, who just signed to Cash Money Records—home to hip-hop superstars Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj—in hopes of resurrecting his flagging career.

“I think Busta Rhymes is a real piece of shit,” says Torain. “He watched a guy get gunned down, a father of three, and he won’t talk to the police because he wants to keep his street credibility. What a fucking idiot.”

Torain’s still seething over the 2006 incident in which Busta’s bodyguard, Israel “Izzy” Ramirez, was shot to death outside a Brooklyn warehouse where Busta, 50 Cent, Missy Elliott and Mary J. Blige, along with 500 extras, were shooting the video for “Touch It.” Though Busta maintained he was inside the building at the time of the shooting, witnesses placed the rapper right next to Ramirez when the bullets started flying. Busta refused to cooperate with the investigation, angering police—at the time, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly publicly berated the rapper for withholding information—and the murder remains unsolved.

Other targets, whose songs or videos, Torain says, promote anti-snitching messages: The Game (“He’s a fucking clown—we’re gonna go after his dumb ass”), Lil Wayne (“Fuckin’ ignorant”), and Kreayshawn (“She’s out there talkin’ that silly shit: ‘I’m in the VIP with the chopper,’ which is a gun. Really?”)

“We don’t wanna beat up on hip-hop, but it does have to be pointed out that hip-hop glorifies ignorance, and people need to see how stupid this shit really is,” says Torain. “Maybe when they start really seein’ that, they’ll start to think differently.”

But if the streets are any indication, getting people to start snitching is going to remain an uphill battle.

At the Kingsessing Rec Center in SW Philly, where six people were shot when a gunman fired into a crowd of hundreds watching an adult league basketball game last summer, a group of teenage boys standing near the courts laugh about the idea of cooperating with police if they’d witnessed that or any other incident.

“I ain’t talkin’ to no police,” says one.

“Snitches get stiches,” says another, repeating the mantra. “I don’t wanna get shot too,” agrees his friend.

Near King’s Water Ice In North Philly, not far from where Linwood Bowser was gunned down, a 37-year-old man who declines to give his name also balks for similar reasons. “I got three kids—they need they father,” he says, adding that he has no confidence in the police to properly handle witness cooperation. “Cops say they’ll keep it quiet, then they roll up to your house to ask you questions and the whole neighborhood knows you did it.”

There’s skepticism inside Philly’s rap game, too. “I respect [Torain’s] sentiment and I guess his heart’s in the right place, but what he’s saying isn’t realistic,” says Sharif Lacey, aka Reef the Lost Cauze. “I don’t think people are gonna go from not trusting the police to talking to the police because someone started a campaign.”

Reef says mistrust of the police, more than any kind of allegiance to street code, is at the heart of the “no snitching” mindset. Citing the negative relationship many young black men have with police, and his own experiences being hassled by cops for no reason, the 30-year-old Lacey—a prodigious freestyle rapper and veteran battle emcee who’s never run afoul of the law, and is known for his work mentoring kids in Philly—says it may be too late to repair the fractured trust between cops and the hood.

“I know that in order for anyone to ever want to cooperate with the police, the police have to ensure that people are gonna be treated with the respect they deserve,” says Reef. “What happens when you call the police is you end up being interrogated by them like you’re the one who did something wrong—‘Do you know these people? How do you know them? Where these people at?’ All this shit.”

And, he says, the fear factor is very real. “[Police] let you fend for yourself after they get the information they need. I’ve known people who’ve tried to do the right thing … and they end up getting killed. People think it’s the movies where there’s two cops outside your door every day. Naw, man—maybe the day before you’re supposed to testify they’ll come and get you. But the idea that the police are protecting you from whatever’s out there is bullshit … you’re on your own, and everyone out here knows that.”

While Reef concedes that hip-hop bears some responsibility for promoting “no snitching,” he says there are rappers out there who address the harsh realities and repercussions of snitching, without coming off corny, soft or preachy. Reef’s one of them—on his new track “Devil’s Advocate,” he spits about a “real nigga” who “wasn’t the violent type but he would see evil on all kinds of nights and chose to remain the silent type,” even after witnessing thugs robbing and killing an old lady:

Seen the whole thing and just shut his blinds/But he couldn’t get the image of her busted spine from his blunted mind /Time passed and the summer was sick/That was until his little brother got hit/Now he’s out for answers but niggas stick to the script/So when he asked what happened ain’t nobody seen shit.

Lyrically, Reef’s message isn’t that far removed from Torain’s. But he still can’t get behind Start Snitching.

“My whole thing is, and it might sound a little bit crazy, I’m not opposed to vigilante justice,” he says. “I feel like that’s where we’re at in this time. I’m not saying people need to go out and start shooting at criminals. But there was a period where you couldn’t do things in certain areas because they knew the brothers there weren’t having it. We need to get back to that. We need to tell kids that if you see something, tell an adult and we’ll handle it. I know you can’t take the law into your own hands, but if people don’t feel like they can talk to the police then nothing gets done at all. So I’m looking at it like the lesser of two evils.”

You can add that perspective to the list of things Torain’s not trying to hear. “That’s retaliatory shit, you can’t do that shit. Then you get people shooting into a crowd. I could be in the club when that goes down. I could be in the bar that night.”

He’s not buying the fear argument, either. “Not an excuse,” says Torain. “That cannot be the overruling decision, that if I speak [to police] I’m gonna be retaliated on. I say that’s a small, distorted reality. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but that fear is magnified more than what it really is. You can’t let fear keep you from doing the right thing. You have to strive to do more, to do better.”

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COMMENTS

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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