Its been almost three years since Roger Troutman, funk pioneer and leader of Zapp, was killed in a murder/ suicide by his brother Larry. Reports said Roger was found in the back of his recording studio and later died of multiple gunshot wounds while in surgery. His brother was found several blocks away in a crashed Lincoln with a bullet in his head. It’s rumored that Roger was ready to fire his brother / manager Larry.
Having worked up the ranks of the P-funk family in Dayton, Ohio, Roger was the youngest cat of the crew and had the privilege of learning from so many funk legends. Growing up under the wings of the Ohio Players and Parliament, he helped to pioneer some of the sounds that are so integral in hip hop today. Roger took Peter Frampton’s talkbox to the mothership level, making the voice-distorting device his claim to fame. While young hip hop fans might only know him as the jheri-curled individual in the “California Love” video with a tube in his mouth, the industry’s inner circles is where his death hit closest to home. Having worked with and inspired artists like Dre, Snoop, EPMD, 2Pac, Ice Cube, and others, Roger was G-Funk before there was a word for it.
“Once I heard he was killed, all I could think about was doing a tribute song,” explains J-ro of Tha Liks. “People don’t realize what a musical genius he was.” The outpouring of support from the hip hop community was so huge J-ro decided he needed to do a whole compilation album. “Once Ice-T offered use of his home studio and Snoop and Kurupt got involved, I really understood the impact Roger had on all of us. I remember the first time I heard “More Bounce to the Ounce.” I was in the car with my mom. I almost lost my mind,” J-ro remembers.
Although J-ro never got a chance to meet him, Tha Liks did a show with Zapp in Milwaukee that blew everyone away. “He had two keyboards on either side of the stage and would run back and forth, playing while singing on the talkbox. He was a real crazy, innovative dude and always full of energy. People told me that if you would see him on the street he always had a mini talkbox-and-keyboard set that he made himself. He would start talking through it sounding like Donald Duck or something. He wouldn’t even flinch, like that was normal. That’s how he had his conversations. He was so ill.”
Peep hip hop’s tribute to Roger Troutman, “Still More Bounce,” available on Wolfpac records. Warner Bros. has also re-release a double-CD of Roger and Zapp’s classic material.