Coleman wrote or co-wrote every track on his release.
By RONNA RUBIN
You may not yet be familiar with Troy Coleman, but you probably have heard of him. And one thing is for certain: If you've seen him, you remember him. Coleman is Cowboy Troy, country music's first black rapping cowboy.
He's branded his sound as "hick hop" and is breaking new ground in the world of commercial country music. But is it his intention to single-handedly break down the conservative nature of country music?
"I am more interested in changing any preconceived notions of music in general," Coleman says. "For me, music is something that is meant to entertain and uplift the spirits of its listeners. I think our music will change the way people will view the [country music] format for the better."
The Dallas-born singer with a psychology degree from the University of Texas grew up listening to his parents' country music. But his college years found him playing clubs and bars and gaining interest in both rock and rap music.
But it was a friendship with John Rich, half of the country duo Big & amp; Rich, that pretty much brought him to the party. The 6'5" Coleman is a member of the MuzikMafia, an informal group of artists including Big & amp; Rich and Gretchen Wilson whose regular Nashville gigs ultimately earned them major record label deals.
Coleman's Warner Bros. debut, Loco Motive, was co-produced by John Rich, Paul Worley and Coleman and it debuted at No. 2 on the country music sales chart. Not bad for an album that, while it does feature a fiddle and banjo also includes lyrics in Russian, Chinese and Spanish.
"I Play Chicken With The Train," the LP's debut single, features guest vocals by Big & amp; Rich. Coleman wrote or co-wrote every track on his release. But there are a lot more songs where they came from. "I enjoy the writing process and, since I write more than just rap, I would be excited if someone else recorded one of my songs."
Prior to getting a record deal, the 34-year-old managed a Foot Locker athletic shoe store in Dallas, a job he's since left. As he continues to add members to his fan club, the Hick Hop Federation (where new members are offered a free subscription to either Rolling Stone, Blender or Sync magazines), Coleman focuses on the future. "I hope any success I may be afforded will inspire other artists and writers to stretch the limits of what they have been told," he says. "I think country music is one of the greatest formats around and, by incorporating other styles and sounds, it may encourage someone else to try it on for size."