Exclusive – Platinum-selling rapper Lil Troy (real name Troy Birklett) had the scare of his life when his 18-wheeler erupted in flames while driving down Interstate 10 in Houston on Monday (December 6). The 55-year-old rap vet was on his way back from Arkansas when he noticed smoke starting to billow from the hood.
Concerned for the safety of those around him, Troy tried to maneuver his rig to the side of the road as quickly as possible, but the fire was rapidly growing worse. Despite his best attempts to extinguish the fire, he was forced to abandon those plans to save his own life.
As Troy explained to HipHopDX in a recent interview, “I was on freeway about 10, 15 minutes. I started seeing smoke coming up in the cab while I was driving and I’m like, ‘This is not good. No, smoke ain’t supposed to get in the cab.’ I started trying to ease my way over to the exit, so I could try to get off the freeway so nobody else get hurt or nothing like that.
And the closer I get to the exit while trying to get off, I started seeing smoke out the hood coming up and flames started coming up by the hood. And I finally got the truck to stop. I jumped out, grabbed the fire extinguisher to tried to put it out. That wouldn’t work, so I just backed up from it and just let it go.”
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While Lil Troy watched the harrowing scene unfold, he thought about his family and how much life he had left to live.
“I was trying to find a way to get off the freeway first and not hit another car or no car hit me and thinking about my family,” he says. “Thinking about, this is not the way I’m supposed to go out like, ‘No, God got a better plan for me. I know this is ain’t it. Stay calm, stay cool.’ I had to get out the situation.”
Beyond simply surviving, Lil Troy also defied the “Wanna Be A Baller” curse. Released in 1999, the song featured Fat Pat, Lil’ Will, Big T, H.A.W.K. and Yungstar and wound up charting at No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100, Troy’s biggest hit to date. But nearly everyone who appeared on it wound up dead.
Fat Pat was murdered in 1998, just months before the song was released while H.A.W.K. (who’d replaced Fat Pat in the “Wanna Be A Baller” video) was shot and killed eight years later. Then Lil’ Will, Troy’s cousin, died in a car accident in 2016 and Big T, who provided the song’s hook, died in 2018 of a suspected heart attack.
Lil Troy couldn’t help but wonder if the inferno he’d faced on the interstate was an attempt on his life and somehow connected to the song’s curse. In fact, he compared it to Jeffrey Reddick’s 2000s film franchise Final Destination in which the characters are killed in succession by death itself.
“I’ve been saying it’s cursed for a long time,” he says. “It’s like that movie Final Destination when everyone starts dying right after each other. I started thinking about that when everybody started passing. And I’m like, ‘I know I’m not next.’ Everybody that got on that song or did something together, they start dying one by one after each other. I said, ‘Oh no, it’s not my time to go yet. No, no.’ Everybody on that song, they done passed.”
Fat Pat and H.A.W.K.’s deaths were particularly impactful because they’d known each other since they were teenagers. “That was hurt feelings,” Troy remembers. “‘Cause I grew up with Hawk and Fat Pat, so I knew them personally. I took it a little harder than everybody who just knew their music. You know what I’m saying? So it went back further than that.”
About 10 firefighters and three fire trucks arrived at the scene and got to work, but it took them “awhile” to get the fire out. But once they did, Lil Troy was able to sit back and really reflect on what had just happened.
“It taught me to stay calm,” he says. “God has a better plan for me. This was not my time. I’m going to go buy another truck. I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing ’cause he blessed me to get my CDL, blessed me to get the trucks and get my own authority. So this is my next journey in life right now.”
Lil Troy hasn’t dropped an album since 2006. At this point, music has firmly taken a backseat in Lil Troy’s life — and he’s fine with that.
“I left that alone,” he says. “I left that behind. The music business had changed a lot and I done ran my course. You know what I’m saying? I had some success with going platinum and stuff and a big hit. So I was like, I don’t mind fading away. I got up in age at the same time. The new young generation wasn’t really liking the stuff, so I backed away from it.”
Find more information about Birklett Trucking here.