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R&B Legends, "Troop' Has A Hot New Look & Hot New Music! It's Quality, Harmonious & Buttery Smooth!

Updated: May 11

For those who don't know, Troop stands for (TROOP) "total respect of other people." Together, Allen McNeil, Reggie Warren, and Steve Russell Harts are TROOP. A few of Troop's albums include Spread My Wings, The Jackson Five's cover of "All I Do is Think of You," Sweet November, and others. TROOP was also featured in the big-screen blockbuster hit movie New Jack City.

Atlantic Records signed childhood friends Steve Russell, Allen McNeil, John Harreld, Rodney Benford, and Reggie Warren to record "Mamacita" in 1988. "Spread My Wings" and "All I Do Is Think of You," from Troop's second album, Attitude, topped the Billboard R&B singles chart and stayed in the top ten for several weeks. "Attitude" was platinum certified in 1990. From their third album, Deepa, "Sweet November" became their first number-one single. Afterward, Mayday (1998) and A Lil' Sumpin' Sumpin' (1994) were released.

After Mayday in 1998, Troop took a hiatus, but individually they continued writing and producing projects, collaborating, and expanding. Upon reuniting in 2004, Troop released their sixth album. Since returning, they've headlined shows with Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Keith Sweat, Silk, Jon B., and Mario.

They also appeared on Soul Train, Arsenio Hall, and It's Showtime at "The Apollo" and performed a cappella in New Jack City. They also sang Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" and O'Jay's "For the Love of Money" on the New Jack City soundtrack. It was a pleasure interviewing them. We discussed the following topics during our interview.

The "Troop" is the house! First and foremost, thank all of you for allowing me to interview you. The last time I saw you was in Memphis at the "Stomp the City Iconic Awards," and I must tell you, your performance was electrifying!

Troop: Thank you. That's what's up.

My Pleasure. So, let's start by having all of you guys introduce yourselves.

Troop: Ok, I'm Steve Russell Harts, I'm Allen McNeil, I'm John (Jon Jon) Harreld, and I'm Rodney Benford.

Awesome, so let's go back down memory lane. How did "Troop" formulate?

Steven: The band was formed in 1984 out of Pasadena, California. The founding members of

Troop are Rodney Benford and Reggie Warren. They went on the 80's TV Show hosted by Allan Fawcett called "Puttin on the Hits," where various acts would get together and lip sync to their favorite songs. After they had done the show, a producer contacted them and wanted to know if they could sing. That's how I, Steven Russell Hart, and John Harreld joined the group. The group was then named "Five of a Kind."

Over the years, we've all witnessed bands we loved split. Some went solo, and others formulated the same bin but different versions. However, "Troop" has stayed intact. What is the recipe for keeping a band cohesive throughout the years? What's the formula?

Allen: When we fight, we don't leave without solving the problem immediately. Also, a large part of why the group has remained together over the years is our genuine care for each other and each individual's feelings in any situation. Through the years, we have learned how to do that.

"Troop" has experienced some of the same things that other R&B groups go through. Getting through, reaching the other side, and maintaining our careers and relationships with one another factor has been accomplished through growth.

We had to understand that Troop is bigger than any of us, and the good thing is that, as it relates to Troop, we all have the same goals. Collectively, we are on the same page because we want those dreams and goals to become a reality, and together we can make it happen. Consequently, we are committed to working together to achieve those goals.

Everyone goes through hard times and has misunderstandings. Even within your biological family, you won't always see eye to eye. Nevertheless, you learn how to work through it because your love for that family member is greater than the disagreement. So, it is in a group setting. Therefore, working towards understanding one another for the greater good has worked out for us. Although there are so many other things we could share regarding how to keep a group together, that's one of the recipes for the group's longevity and success. Continuing to create these amazing classic pieces of music is incredibly important to us and something we love doing.

Awesome! Ok, I want to ask you guys a few fun questions! These questions will help your fans get to know you a little better and get a better understanding of who you are individually. Ok, are you ready?

Troop: Yes.

Great! Let's get started. The first sequential question is, who in the group has the moodiest and most temperamental disposition?

Allen: Ha Ha, I will say that would be Steven.

John: Yes, I agree.

Allen: Don't get me wrong. He's a great guy all around, but he's a perfectionist.

I admire that about Steven because no matter what we are doing, whether we are choreographing or are in the studio, whatever we are doing, we must accomplish it with perfection. It is crucial for us to avoid any slip-ups or messes along the way. As a team, we take pride in our ability to be excellent, and we want to have an excellent presentation as well. We all do our best, but Steve is the guy that pushes us to our greatest potential even more after we do our best. Whether recording in the studio or engaging in choreography, he pushes us to hit a greater target.

We love him because he goes above and beyond, which makes him such an outstanding person. Although he is a perfectionist, being a perfectionist is one of the characteristics we appreciate about him.

That's OK, Steven; I'm also a perfectionist, so I understand your world. It's a lonely and misunderstood life in the world of perfectionism, yet effective and productive. So, there it is! (laughs) Question #2. Who would you consider to be the most serious and deep member of the group?

John: Allen can be a little deep at times.

Steven: Allen is serious. I'm deep. (laughs)

Is that true, Allen?

Allen: Yes, it's true. I have a reputation for being serious. (laughs)

Who has the kindest heart?

Allen: Reggie was kindhearted.

Steven: Yes, I agree. Reggie has a kind heart. Reggie passed a little over a year ago, but he's still with us in the group, in spirit, and our hearts. Reggie was the kind one.

That's beautiful to say that about your brother. I am sure he was a beautiful spirit, as all of you are. They say birds of a feather flock together—my condolences to you and his immediate family for your loss.

Troop: Thank you.

My pleasure. OK, gentlemen, who is the sneakiest out of the bunch?

Allen: Rodney. (laughs)

Steven: Allen. (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Steven: Allen is the sneakiest one in the group, hands down.

John: (laughs)

Steven: That's his reputation.

Allen: (laughter)

Allen, what do you have to say for yourself? Is this true? Are you sneaky? (laughs)

Steven: Oh yeah! That's Al Mac!

Alle: Al Mazing! (laughs)

Well, OK then, Al Mazing, who's always complaining?

Allen: I've got to give that to Steve.

John: Un hum. (laughs)

Steven: I'll take that.

Allen: He wants things to go right; I don't see anything wrong with that. No matter what, he's going to voice his opinion. Steve will let you know when he disagrees with an issue. (laughs)

Steven: Yeah (laughs)

Who's the most optimistic?

Allen: That's Rodney.

Steven: Rodney's a positive guy.

Allen: Yeah, Rodney's positive. He will say, wait, let's bring it down and look at it." He's an extremely even guy.

Who's the laziest?

Steven: Rodney.

Allen: (laughs)

Rodney, would you like to defend yourself?

Rodney: no, I'll take that. (laughs)

John: (laughs)

All right, then, who's the troublemaker?

Allen: Jon Jon!

John, why would they accuse you of being a group's troublemaker? You have such an innocent-looking face. (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Allen: We hear about Jon, Jon, all the time. John did this, or John did that. (laughs)

Jon, Jon!

John: But it will be the truth.

OK, John, you owned it. That's awesome! Whos' the goofiest prankster?

John: That's Rodney.

Allen: I think Steve won the trophy on this one because he got all of us on the airplane.

Really? What did he do?

Allen: He captured all of us sleeping on the airplane with our mouths open. (laughs)

He video-recorded you guys' sleep? Steven!

John: Yep, on the airplane. (laughs)

Steven: We have some new stuff coming out too.

Allen: Oh no. (laughs)

Steven: They're hard workers. (laughs)