"Why did you stop just me? l said, didn't l, I bet those security geezers go straight for me. Security check, bollocks. You mean black check. First black face off the plane, they go for it."
By now, they're trying desperately to let Tricky into the country.
"You can't keep me out! I belong here! Don't you know that l'm the original lsraelite?
TRICKY ON 'PRE MILLENNIUM
TRICKY ON 'TRICKY KID'
you're not exactly normal, are you? And even if you weren't a pop star
you'd still be pretty f***ing strange.
"Yeah, probably, yeah. I know deep in my heart I'm not normal. It's got a lot to do with my upbringing. Being shipped around from family to family. Never having stable parents. Staying somewhere for three years then going off for three years. My uncles being villains. All that stuff. I've got quite a dysfunctional family. I can name two or three people who've got their lives together, just got a normal life, kids, house. For some reason, in my family, the mothers always give the kids to the grandmothers."
Billy Joel is the doorman
at the Tel Aviv Hilton. In the lobby, photographers snap Tricky as he picks
up his key. Tricky snaps back.
TRICKY ON POWER AND
|This guy without
raising his voice makes me scared, cos I can feel his energy - or is that
money? I call them 'Players'. I can understand the word 'Player' now.
"Like Snoop Doggy Dogg, I think, is a player. I would not like to be in his shoes, man, cos I don't know how he deals with it. I don't know he manages to be so cool. He's signed to a really heavy label, I didn't want to say it, but f***ing everybody knows it, and I don't know how he manages to maintain himself. I'm going to cover that song, 'Freestyle Conversation', that to me is like a diary of the last two years. This industry makes me feel like that: 'l should get upset. 'And I'm not toting a gun, I'm not running around LA. I'm not a bad boy. I ain't got a bulletproof vest. I think it's absolute genius.
Do you envy him his calm?
"Oh, yeah. F***ing yeah. I really do envy it. Cos he gives me the vibe he's always going to come up roses, always on his toes. In a way, I don't agree with all that making money stuff, but I can understand it. If you make your attitude about, this is my life, this is me, I'm making money, you can shield yourself from a lot of pain. Whatever anybody says about you won't hurt you."
Is that why you want Maisey [Tricky's daughter with co-vocalist Martina] to grow up to be a yuppie?
"Definitely. I want her getting on first-class planes, first-class tickets, and I want her to be treated as somebody who's got money, cos it's easier. People say, 'She's got to know where she comes from.' Why? She's got to have a good life, and if my money can make it easier for her, I hope she does. I want her to go to a public school, I want her to be a yuppie with nothing to worry about except what she's going to wear on weekends. Some people might say that's pretentious, but it isn't. Sometimes I'd like to forget where I came from. I'd like to sweep it all under the carpet."
TRICKY ON LYRICS
|lot of bollocks
on this album. I mean, I love it, I think it's funny. But when I'm doin'
'em, I'm thinking, 'F***ing hell.' 'Christiansands': WHAT a loaaad
of- twadswallop. It rhymes. That's what it is."
Do you like the idea of people gazing at these lyrics for meaning?
"And they do. They gaze, and they gaze, and they write mad shit. And I think, f***ing hell!"
We're in an Arabic
restaurant in Jaffa, the old city ofT Tel Aviv. The one place in Israel
where Jews and Arabs peacefully coexist. The whole party - band, crew,
The Maker - is chewing down on meze and grilled fish. A large, middle-aged,
red headed woman billows across the room with the sombre, unhurried authority
of the Queen Mary and docks at our table. We think she's with the promoters,
but she appears so much in charge of everything, we're all too scared to
ask. She could have just walked in off the street and taken control.
"I learnt when I was young, one-on-one fights are not so funny. Unless fighting is your business, if you don't know what you're doing, you'll pick a fight with someone who'll destroy you. As you'll get older, you'll recognise people who're just schizophrenic. I've got schizophrenic people in my family, so l can tell.
"It was weird with all my mates, the Fresh Four guys who are now DJ Krust - Roni Size weren't around then - and his brother Flynn, all those jungle kids. There was loads of us, we all fed off each other. When there's eight or nine of you, you're strong, and when you're that age, you ain't got no fear. Violence is a game or, you know, a film, you threaten people, people threaten you. Nothing really serious happens."
Did it make any difference that you were small?
"Being small would mean I had to try extra hard to get into trouble, trying to prove a point, so I used to lead a lot of those guys into situations. I'd go out with 3D from Massive Attack, and we'd end up at the wrong club night, and there'd be these kids I knew from school. I'd talk to them, and it'd be, 'It's old Thawsy. Yeah, we'll have to go out and dap some kids.' Not 'have a drink' but 'dap some kids'. When you've been living in that environment, you don't even realise it. I was lucky. I met a girl called Alice. Her dad was a university teacher. He was a Muslim, very mellow. I remember, when I was 18, it was the first time I actually sat with a family around a table. I ended up living there for a year. I was changed. F*** going to a club. She'd read a book, I would sit in bed writing lyrics. Then you move away from that and you realise how mad it is. 'Dap some kids'."
VIOLENCE AND RACISM
"I find it hard to watch violence on TV now, since l had a kid. I used to be one of the biggest fans of all that violent shit. I think I'm just becoming a different person. I'm starting to realise the f***ing truth of people who do hold the power. The idle threats we make to each other every day - what are you going to do at the end of the day? Are you going to kill me? Gangsters kill people. I grew up with this thing, you threaten each other, you get grief from someone who lives across the road from you. I don't know whether I'm becoming conscious or whether I'm just realising how futile and petty and boring - boring, boring, boring - all this bad boy talk is."
What about your supposed desire to shoot former Maker writer Andy Smith in the face after he suggested you weren't living up to the responsibilities of fatherhood?
"See, that was just a song. Tarantino can do that in a movie, but I can't do that in a song. I didn't f***ing threaten him. If you look at it logically, I'm very well known. For me to shoot him in the face would be impossible. I just wrote a story about a fascination, a dream I had in my head. And he just wrote about a dream he had in his head. He didn't know anything about me, or about my family. It did bother me at the time, because from me writing a song, it became, 'Tricky said he wanted to shoot him in his face.' Then that becomes very heavy.
"It's like Tarantino. I can watch a Tarantino movie now, and I love what he does, and I f***ing hate him at the same time, for all the violence he's giving, and a lot of racism, too, in some ways. Tarantino's the sort of person who a couple of years ago I would have been on my knees to, posters of him on my wall. They're gone."
do you think he's racist?
"Because [laughing] you can only say 'nigger' so many times in one conversation. How many times do you want to get your point across? I reckon he's a frustrated gangster. I think he'd like to be black as well. Thing is, I've gone past the thing of colour, politics. To me, people are people, and I know it sounds a corny thing to say, but l really cannot see colour. I've got cousins who look like Asians. My mother's sister's children - my first cousins - are totally white, blond hair. My uncles are black, my uncle Tony looks a bit Chinese."
Do you relate to the frustrated gangster thing?
"Yeah. You see, I grew up in a terrible situation where men like that got respect. It's like, I didn't know I could be a musician then. I didn't know I could get respect from what I'm doing. I have been a frustrated gangster, yeah."
THE radio station is
run, after a fashion, by soldiers. Teenage soldiers of both sexes, which
explains why it has the air of a student project. As the lady from the
local record company puts it, these kids have the best job in the army.
the king of the jungle. I was reading articles where Goldie was getting
dissed. I've seen 10, 20 kings of the jungle. I don't see anyone else coming
out of the woodwork saying, danananana.
If your name ain't on there,
that ain't a dig at you. Cos I would have put his name on it. To even think
that I'd sit down and think about you. Taking things too seriously. To
me, that's more of a dig at the press, not even the press, the industry.
To make things up, like 'The King Of The Jungle' and 'The King Of Trip
Hop'. I was supposed to have invented trip hop, and I will f***ing deny
having anything to do with it.
"What Goldie's on about, I've already left. I've moved on, done it, seen it, got the T-shirt. He just shouldn't be so paranoid. I've been just as paranoid, I've been in the same situation as him, and I've been doing it a lot longer than him. I'm not talking streets, or council estates, I'm talking in this industry, and I've been under much more pressure. He'd be better off being my friend, cos I could f***ing help the guy out. It's just pressure. It's a situation which none of us are ever ready for. Nobody's ever ready for this business.
"I don't mind telling people that the guy tried to fight me and I said no, because in a way, at the end of the day, I'm safer. I'm the one who's backing down in the national press, that makes me inoffensive. I wouldn't want anyone to get the impression that I think I'm a bad boy.
Because then what happens is, I'll meet a real bad boy. Everybody wants a pop at the tough guy. You can be the tough guy. It's yours. Have it. Come up to me in a club. Rough me up. That's all right. I don't want the focus on me."
TRICKY ON TUPAC
"Getting drunk and telling people what I think about them is not always a good idea. When I'm sober, I can be very unpleasurable. If I'm just smoking weed, I'm the last person you want to come up to in a club and talk to. If I'm stoned, I'm not very sociable. Everyone goes out and you're in a room on your own, brooding about things and thinking.
"In London, it's easy for me to go out to some celeb thing, get drunk, there's a part of me which is like a load of bollocks, I'm one of those drunks who's with you all night, then starts slagging you off: 'You make f***ing pop music, what the f*** do you make pop music for?' Cos we're all up our own asses. Most artists I know, including myself, we're all up our own asses. Fact.
"Sometimes I walk around with my eyes closed. I walk into situations thinking, I don't want to hurt anybody, I don't see why anybody wants to hurt me. I'm very naive, I think I'm more naive than people realise. Cos I've got a lot of mouth, and I talk and act like I know. I don't ever get into anything serious, except in strange cities. I had a gun in my face in New York, in a Bowery bar. In San Francisco, I went out to get some Rizlas wearing make-up and a skirt, and I walked straight into the middle of some very heavy guys. I had to make a lot of noise about looking for king-size papers, and smoking weed, so they'd think I was all right. In New York, with the Wu-Tang lot, I find them a bit scary, but to them I'm a weird kid who wears a dress. That's perfect. I've been accepted, but I haven't."
You'll land yourself in another situation if you go onstage here wearing an Israeli army uniform.
"Oh, God, actually, that's a bit heavy, isn't it? I didn't see it as that. I saw it as, I'm in Israel, the people have been good to me, I want to wear what they're wearing. But what they're wearing is for f***ing killing each other. I should be thinking, at the back of my mind, there's a f***ing war going on. To me stuff like that is not real. I'm just like Mr. Happy.
"That was a potential situation. I'll go in wearing loads of flowers."
'Tricky Kid' is out now on 4th & Broadway
photos: Stephen Sweet
from: Melody Maker, 11. January 1997