Tricky is an English record producer and rapper who was born and raised in Bristol. He’s a pioneer of trip hop music, and his work is noted for its dark, layered musical style that blends disparate cultural influences and genres, including hip hop, alternative rock and ragga.
"As long as you're humble Let you be the king of jungle".
In the mid-1980s, Tricky met DJ Milo and spent time with a sound system called the Wild Bunch, which by 1987 evolved into Massive Attack. He received the nickname "Tricky Kid" and at age eighteen became a member of the Fresh 4, a rap group built from the Wild Bunch. He also rapped on Massive Attack's acclaimed debut album Blue Lines.
In 1991, before the release of Massive Attack's album Blue Lines, he met Martina Topley-Bird in Bristol. Some time later she came to his house, and mentioned to Tricky and Mark Stewart that she could sing.
Martina was only fifteen years old, but her "honey-coated vox" impressed them and they recorded a song called "Aftermath". So in 1993 he decided to press a few hundred vinyl copies of the song. He cut it directly off the tape, so that the song is basically "just bassline and hiss".
In 1995, a white label got him a contract with Island Records and he started to record his first solo album entitled Maxinquaye. Tricky explained Maxinquaye's title in an interview with Simon Reynolds: "Quaye, that's this race of people in Africa, and 'Maxin,' that's my mum's name, Maxine, and I've just taken the E off"; Reynolds interpreted this as a "place name" similar to the Rastafarian idea of Zion.
They marketed the album by relying on independent record promoters and Tricky's appearances in media, including publicity photographs and music videos that portrayed him and Topley-Bird in gender-bending fashion.
Tricky, whose lyrics had matured from raps about street violence and sex to more personal and introspective writing, said Topley-Bird found his songs "quite depressing", which he believed was because of her more privileged background: "It's just reality. She's been a student all her life, grew up in Somerset, and I don't think she's ever faced the real world. She finds it all a bit weird. But she's my best mate." The release of Maxinquaye won Tricky popular acclaim and marked the beginning of a lengthy collaborative partnership with Topley-Bird.
Almost all of Martina’s vocals on the album were recorded in a single take. In describing the recording sessions, she recalled: "It was totally instinctive. There was no time to drum up an alter ego. I liked the idea that the information people needed about me was what they would hear when they put the record on. Anything else was sort of extraneous. I didn't think there was anything in my biography that would explain my musical choices." Topley-Bird continued her collaboration with Tricky on his follow-up album.
In an interview for The Wire, Tricky explained his mother's influence and his use of female vocalists like Topley-Bird: "My first lyric ever on a song was 'your eyes resemble mine, you'll see as no others can'.
I didn't have any kids then ... so what am I talking about? Who am I talking about? My mother ... used to write poetry but in her time she couldn't have done anything with that, there wasn't any opportunity. It's almost like she killed herself to give me the opportunity, my lyrics. I can never understand why I write as a female, I think I've got my mum's talent, I'm her vehicle. So I need a woman to sing that."
Tricky "utilized the feminine to construct his rebellion against the strict categories of black identity and music". The musician later explained that he simply believed feminine men were much more interesting than masculine men.
Tricky has also acted in various films. He appeared in a significant supporting role in the 1997 Luc Besson film The Fifth Element, playing the right-hand man "Right Arm" to evil businessman Mr. Zorg.
He also appears briefly in the 2004 Olivier Assayas film Clean, playing himself, and had a large role in the music video for "Parabol/Parabola" by Tool. He was also rumoured to have a brief cameo in John Woo's 1997 movie Face/Off, but has denied that this was the case, although his single "Christiansands" was featured in the movie.
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