|Birth name||Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws|
|Also known as||Tricky Kid|
|Born||27 January 1968|
|Origin||Knowle West, Bristol, Somerset, England, UK|
|Genres||Trip hop, alternative music|
|Occupations||Producer, mixer, musician, Rapper|
|Instruments||Vocals, keyboards, harmonica|
|Labels||Island Records, Domino Records|
|Associated acts||The Wild Bunch, Massive Attack, Martina Topley-Bird|
Tricky (born Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws, 27 January 1968) is an English musician and actor. As a producer and a musician, he is noted for a dark, rich and layered sound and a whispering sprechgesang lyrical style. Culturally, Tricky blends different styles, particularly in his musical fusion of rock and hip hop, high art and pop culture. His debut album Maxinquaye was nominated for the Mercury Prize and voted Album of the Year by NME Magazine.
Early life 
Tricky was born in Knowle West, Bristol, Somerset to a Jamaican father and a mixed-race Anglo-Ghanaian mother. His father left the family before he was born and his mother, Maxine Quaye, was a poet. She committed suicide when Tricky was only four. He named his debut solo album after her - Maxinquaye - and once said that though he hardly knew her, he feels like she's speaking through him with his words.
He spent his youth in the care of his grandmother, who often let him watch old horror films instead of going to school. At 15 he began to write lyrics ("I like to rock, I like to dance, I like pretty girls taking down their pants" MixMag 1996). At 17, he spent some time in prison because he bought forged £50 notes from a friend, who later informed the police. In an interview, Tricky said: "Prison was really good. I'm never going back".
Early career 
Eventually he met DJ Milo and hung out with a sound system called the Wild Bunch, which by 1987 evolved into Massive Attack. He received the nickname 'Tricky Kid' and at 18 he 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 (1991).
In 1991, before the release of Massive Attack's album Blue Lines, he met Martina Topley-Bird. 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" (though The Face '95 mentions that the first song they recorded together was called "Shoebox"). Tricky showed "Aftermath" to Massive Attack, but they were not interested. 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". (NME 1994). Finally, a white label got him a contract with Island Records and he started to record his first solo album.
Tricky left Massive Attack to release his debut album, Maxinquaye. The album was a massive success and Tricky was catapulted to international fame, something he was notably uncomfortable with. This was because the impact of his album truly set the stage for trip-hop within the United Kingdom. Tricky was able to do so much with his music by incorporating different musical genres in his sound, but ultimately making sure he made the overall product his own. In fact, the Maxinquaye album review by the Rolling Stone magazine read, "Tricky devoured everything from American hip-hop and soul to reggae and the more melancholic strains of '80s British rock." It is important to note that Tricky paid tribute to early hip-hop artists whose music was, and still is, influential in the hip-hop scene. He also incorporated commercial pop music into his music, and by combining early hip-hop and pop samples in his music, he found a way to appeal to both audiences, which rarely happens. As Hesmondhalgh and Melville wrote, "Tricky showed his debt to hip-hop aesthetics by reconstructualising samples and slices of both the most respected black music (Public Enemy) and the tackiest pop (quoting David Cassidy’s "How Can I Be Sure?")." Mixing all of these elements, Tricky created "a mercurial style of dance music that immediately finds it own fast feet."
Tricky failed to complete a number of lyrics for the Massive Attack album Protection and gave the band some of the lyrics he had written for Maxinquaye instead. Different versions of the same songs appear on both albums - called "Overcome" and "Hell is 'Round the Corner" on Maxinquaye and "Karmacoma" and "Eurochild" on Protection. When Massive Attack were asked, in a radio interview on CFNY-FM in Toronto, about why the lyrics were the same, they jokingly said that it was because he was lazy.
Tricky found it difficult to cope with the huge success of Maxinquaye and he subsequently eschewed the laidback soul sound of the first album to create an increasingly edgy and aggressive punk tinged music that echoed his personality as he became more erratic and unreliable.
In 1996, Neneh Cherry and Björk appeared as guests on his second album Nearly God. The opening number was a cover of the Siouxsie and the Banshees pre-trip-hop song "Tattoo" that had previously inspired Tricky when he forged his style.
In 2001 Tricky appeared on the Thirteen Ghosts soundtrack with the song "Excess" which (briefly) features Alanis Morissette during two of the choruses. In 2002 that song also appeared on the Queen of the Damned soundtrack.
Idiosyncrasies and media controversies 
By the time Pre-Millennium Tension was released, Tricky was increasingly irritated with the press, particularly articles written in The Face magazine. The Face had been an early champion of Maxinquaye, but saw Tricky as more a duo than a solo project. The Face published an article claiming that vocalist Martina Topley-Bird had to single-handedly bring up the child that Tricky had fathered.
He has also been concerned with racial stereotyping of the media. In the documentary Naked & Famous he explained how photographers want him to frown angrily in photos, because that is how black artists are marketed. He points to a recent cover of The Big Issue, where he has a more ambiguous, confused look on his face, as being more how he feels. In the song "Tricky Kid" from Pre-Millennium Tension, he wrote "As long as you're humble/Let you be the king of jungle." (As well as referring to racist attitudes, the lyric is also a reference to Goldie and their spat over Björk.)
Throughout his work, Tricky blurs the normally clear sexual definitions found within hip hop. Despite the heavy influence he drew from American hip hop in his debut album, Maxinquaye, he fights against typical sexual representations by, for example, dressing as a woman on the side sleeve of his album cover. As many of his tracks blend elements of varying types of music creating a difficult to define sound, so his lyrics create a more ambiguous and blurry take on sexuality.
Side projects and film career 
Tricky has guest starred on a number of albums, including a notable appearance on Live's fifth studio album, V. This appearance came as Tricky and Live's lead singer Ed Kowalczyk had developed a close friendship, with Kowalczyk contributing vocals to 'Evolution Revolution Love', a track on Tricky's album Blowback.
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 reportedly put off actor Gary Oldman (who played Zorg) because, while he had his back to the camera, he was eating a Twix bar, to Oldman's anger ("He's facking eatin' a Twix!"). "But Gary Oldman took me in, used to make me cups of tea and shit like that. He's got a real deep soul. Y'know, he permitted me to hang out with him and he's up there." He also appears briefly in both the 1997 John Woo directed Face/Off (his single "Christiansands" is also played during his brief cameo) as well as the 2004 Olivier Assayas film Clean, playing himself, and had a large role in the music video for "Parabol/Parabola" by Tool.
In 2001 Tricky appeared in online advertising for the web series We Deliver, about a marijuana delivery service in New York. Though he did not actually appear in any episodes, in the advertising it appears as if he is a customer of the service.
Recent work 
Tricky's website last reports him busy at work with the musical acts signed to his Brown Punk record label. Several new solo works have been featured in television programmes such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The L Word and Girlfriends, and he contributed "Au Revoir Emmanuelle" to a compilation entitled Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited.
Tricky's 2008 studio album, Knowle West Boy, was released in the UK and Ireland in July 2008 and September 2008 in the US. The first single was "Council Estate". In an interview with The Skinny in July 2008, Tricky mentioned that it was the first time that he had decided to let someone co-produce an album with him, the person in question being Bernard Butler, ex-Suede guitarist. Less than enamoured with Butler's technical prowess, Tricky finished by totally re-recording all of the material.
On 8 December 2009, Tricky's 1995 debut album Maxinquaye was reissued with a bonus 13-track CD featuring B-sides, out-takes and 7 previously unreleased mixes including three new mixes of "Overcome", "Hell is Round the Corner" and "Black Steel".
On 10 December 2009, Daddy G. revealed that he met Tricky in Paris and asked him to work on a future project. Tricky agreed.
During an interview on 1 July 2010, Tricky stated that his new album, titled Mixed Race, was scheduled for release on 27 September 2010. The first single from the album became available on 23 August. The album included contributions from Franky Riley, Terry Lynn, Bobby Gillespie, Hamadouche, Blackman and Tricky's youngest brother Marlon Thaws.
On 13 December 2010 Tricky's tour bus was caught in a blizzard near Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The band was scheduled to play Tuesday night in Minneapolis, but had to cancel because they didn't make it out on time. A local farmer, John Prins, came to their rescue. He reported that "they were sitting in their tour bus for 30, 35 hours, without any food", and said, "They said they were surviving on Jack Daniel's".
On 26 June 2011 Tricky appeared on stage during Beyoncé's headline slot on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury for the track "Baby Boy". Partly the result of technical difficulties with his microphone, he later stated he was "mortified" by his own performance, saying, "I've never been so embarrassed. My body just froze.".
Tricky produced rapper Omni's album IamOmni (produced by Tricky) (released under the moniker IamOmni) that was available from 30 August 2011 as a free download on Omni's official site.
In April 2012 Tricky performed Maxinquaye with Martina Topley-Bird at several concerts around the UK including, for the first time in several years in his home town of Bristol. The concerts featured regular interruptions orchestrated by Tricky, where he brought his youngest brother, Marlon Thaws to rap on stage alongside other local rappers as well as encouraging the audience to come up on stage.
In February 2013, Tricky announced the release of a new album, False Idols. The album is the follow up from his 2010 Mixed Race and is set to feature Peter Silberman, Fifi Rong and Nneka. Tricky released this statement about the album:
- "This new album I’ll stand behind every track. I don’t care whether people like it. I’m doing what I want to do, which is what I did with my first record. That’s what made me who I was in the beginning. If people don’t like it, it don’t matter to me because I’m back where I was."
Studio albums 
- Maxinquaye (1995) No. 3 UK Certified: Gold BPI 
- Nearly God (1996) No. 10 UK
- Pre-Millennium Tension (1996) No. 30 UK, No. 140 US
- Angels with Dirty Faces (1998) No. 23 UK, No. 84 US
- Juxtapose (1999) (with DJ Muggs and Dame Grease) No. 22 UK, No. 182 US
- Blowback (2001) No. 34 UK, No. 138 US
- Vulnerable (2003) No. 88 UK, No. 21 BEL, No. 22 FRA, No. 27 SWI, No. 67 AUT
- Knowle West Boy (2008) No. 63 UK, No. 147 US, No. 25 SWI, No. 31 FR, No. 35 AUT, No. 35 BEL, No. 53 IT, No. 86 ND
- Mixed Race (2010) No. 118 UK, No. 33 FR, No. 99 SWI
- False Idols (2013)
Singles and EPs 
|Year||Song||UK Singles Chart||Album|
|The Hell E.P.||12|
|"I Be The Prophet"||66||Nearly God|
|"Makes Me Wanna Die"||29|
|1998||"Money Greedy" / "Broken Homes"||25||Angels with Dirty Faces|
|2000||Mission Accomplished EP||-||-|
|2001||"Evolution Revolution Love"||-||Blowback|
|2002||"You Don't Wanna"|
|2008||"Council Estate"||-||Knowle West Boy|
|2010||"Murder Weapon"||-||Mixed Race|
|2011||"Time to Dance"||-|
|"Mediate" (INXS featuring Tricky)||-||Mediate: The Ralphi Rosario Remixes|
Collaborating artists 
- "Birth Registration Details" Ancestry.co.uk (Retrieved 20 July 2009)
- "Tricky Interview | The End". Endclub.com. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- "Tricky [biography]". moon-palace.de. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- "New Musical Express - January 14, 1995". moon-palace.de. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- Lynskey, Dorian (18 April 2012). "Culture Music Tricky Tricky: 'I thought I'd be an underground artist. I was not ready'". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "Album Reviews: Tricky - Maxinquaye" In Rolling Stone. 2 February 1998.
- David Hesmondhalgh and Caspar Melville, "Urban Breakbeat Culture: Repercussions of Hip-Hop in the United Kingdom," in Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001), 104-105.
- "Tattoo" a pre trip-hop song initially recorded in 1983
- AMG Tricky page Tricky "Influenced By" Siouxsie and the Banshees.
- O'Hagan, Sean (25 May 2003). "Girl interrupted". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 May 2010.
- David Hesmondhalgh and Caspar Melville, "Urban Breakbeat Culture: Repercussions of Hip-Hop in the United Kingdom," in Mitchell, Global Noise, 104.
- Reviews and Rants 2003 Archive.
- Kitty. "The Fifth Element". Moon-palace.de. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- Dave Kerr (30 July 2008). "Tricky: Real Gone Kid". The Skinny. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
- Minsker, Evan (27 February 2013). "Tricky Announces New Album False Idols, Shares Track "Nothing's Changed"". PitchforkMedia. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- CHART LOG UK: CLUK New Entries Update 9.10.2010 (wk39)
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 567. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Chart Log UK 1994–2008 - DJ T – Tzant (scroll down to Tricky - artists in alphabetical order)
- (Link redirected to OCC website)
- Nearly God / Tricky - Poems - The Official Charts Company
- Unreleased song intended for Nearly God
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