|Just Like That!|
|Avonian ingenu Tricky has pulled quite a rabbit from the top hat they're calling "Bristol trip hop". Martin Aston meets the Number 1 rapper with plenty up his sleeve: "I like to think that no-one's gone before me."|
in a name? Adrian Thaws was nick naned Tricky Kid by his Bristolian peers,
because I was known for not turning up, and then coming in later," he confesses,
having not turned op and then, frankly, come in later. Old habits evidently
The true talents of the now adult size Tricky only recenly came to light after years of behind-the-secnes manoevring that saw him rap with the original WIld Bunch posse, co-write and contribute to three tracks on Massive Aftack's epochal Blue Lines album and two more to last year's Protection follow up, while stealthily carving out his own brand of what is now known as the Bristol trip hop sound. Without so muich as a hit single or a live outing (barring an appearance on The Word), Tricky's epochal debut, Maxinquaye, stormed the chart barricades at Number 1, something neither Massive Attack nor Portishead managed first time around.
But don't expect the same silken tailoredness as Massive or Portishead; Tricky's own album is a daker, unhinged, feverish, fundamentally, er, trickier affair. Surely, if Massive Attack is the father of Bristol trip-hop and Portishead the son, then Tricky is without a doubt the holy ghost.
"We're all basically emotionally dysfunctional," reckons Tricky. Well, maybe, but not everyone is as honest about it. 'It's the only thing I know," he ventures. "So I prostitue my honesty. But it can get me inot trouble sometimes...."
Tricky's past amounts to a veritable dossier of bother. Growing up in Knowle West, a racial ly tense district of Bristol, he lost his mother at five (her name was Maxine Quay, hence the slightly amended album title), lived with his uncle's family, hong out with black and white gangs and worked up a lather of adolescent fear' n 'loathing. He freely admits to car and shop theft, the odd night detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure, smoking way too much ganja for his own good ("When rastas talk about 'dread'," he mutters, "I know exactly what they mean"), undoubt edly making too many "honest' comments for most people's liking along the way.
He still managed to keep it sufficiently together to team up with numerous
sound systems about town, including the Wild Bunch, releasirng a single,
Overcome, before Island's dance subsidiary 4th & Broadway stepped in.
A brace of singles later and the press went frothy: "A definite statement
about what it feels like to be an outsider in Britain," they eulogised;
"Nutjob hip-hop for the funky manic depressive." they burbled.
Not that Tricky concurs with the psychotic reaction. "The album was such a tucking blur, all done in different places at different times," he recalls. "But I don't con sider ifs vibe to be dark. There's lots of different feel ings coming out of there, a lot of confusion. The track Overcome is beautiful, Poriderosa makes me happy, in a silly way, and Strugglin', hebbeb, I think is kinda genius, to tell you the truth. It's avery disturbing track, and not to be listened to on acid. I'd say it was an album from someone who thinks very guickly, and changes, who doesn't stay on one feeling for very long, and moves on."
One surmises that Tricky is just the kind of conversationalist that could do people's heads in.
"Yeah, I'm that pissed-up geezer who annoys you in clubs, hebbeb. I do get really passionate about things. Perhaps that kind of stuff makes more sense outside of a club but it's where I tend to head out on weekends. I like old-fashioned discothe' goes - the cornier the better - because they remind me of child hood. You snog girls there and never see them again, hebbeb. They're less hung up about life and don't care what they look like. In normal clubs, everyone owns a record label or is a rap act or a journalist..."
Maxinquaye's most surprising angle is the fact that Tricky's isn't the dominant voice on the record. That belongs to 18-year-old Martina, whom Tricky met as a refreshingly hang-up free 15-year-old, as forthright as he, and the owner of a gorgeous pocky timbre besides. "There's no one around like her," Tricky raves. "Basically, I want ed a singer because I didn't want to become known as a rapper. There may be better guality singers hot she's the first female singer with her own style of this generation. She's very hardcore, no nonsense.
It was Martina who introduced Tricky to rock music. He lists Nirvana, Henry
Bollins and PJ Harvey as inspirations, frazzled music that cuts deep to
the bone, like his own - while feeling free to sample Smashing Pumpkins
as well as turning Public Enemy's Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos info
something of a thrash-metalfest.
"Chuck D is a genius," Tucky vouchsafes." I don't pretend to know much about his struggle because I'm not American, but his lyrics are so powerful. People should hear those lyrics, your know. But if l'rri going to do it, I want to open his lyrics to all kinds of people and do something different with them."
Tricky is big on the authenticity of experience in song. He has little time for white angst-driven rap sters Page Against The Machine, for example: "Their song Bullet In The Head, what do they know about steel? About guns?" he steams. "On my album, trap. 'to represent mytension, you need more than amike and a mention'. Who are they representing? Certainly not me."
It's hard to pinpoint who he actually represents - a minority of one, perhaps. "I like to think that no-one's gone before me" he says, at one point. Mention Bristol to him and he's immediately on the defensive ("I haven't been there for a long time"). He's already "dissed" Portishead in print (and since apologised) and has similarly distanced himselt from Massive Attack. If proof of musical symbiosis is needed, Tricky's Massive collaboration Karmacoma reappears on Maxinquaye (as Overcome) while
|the same Isaac
Hayes sample turns op on Portishead's Glory Box and Tricky's own Hell Is
Bound The Corner - a coincidence, he points cut, daring you to scuff
"I don't want to be involved in any scene." he contends, trying to bring the "Bristol trend" subject to a close. "I want the music to mean more than that to people. I want people to think of an Eric B & Rakim album or U2's Joshua Tree, you know, special records. I was listening to be-hop and Rakim way before people started calling it trip-hop. Anyway" he shrugs,"being patted on the back doesn't last. You'll see, next year the press will be fucking me off."
his hair silver and wearing matching lip stick for the Black Steel publicity
shoot arid, previously, donning wedding garb for the official press photos
(Martina in tails, guess who wore the dress) shouldn't be conceived as
empty marketing tactics "I'm such a boring person to look at," he argues.
"I did it for a laugh, to get a little bit of tension in there, a bit of
nosebleed attitude. I was trying to say, Fuck you, and at the same time,
to show I'm not faking myself seriously.