|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.
Tricky was born in Knowle West, Bristol, Somerset to a Jamaican father and a mixed-race Anglo-Ghanaian mother. His father, Roy Thaws, who left the family before Tricky was born, operated the Studio 17 sound system (formerly known as "Tarzan the High Priest") with his brother Rupert and father Hector. Bristol musician Bunny Marrett claimed in 2012, "It became the most popular sound system in Bristol at the time".
Tricky's mother Maxine Quaye was a poet—she committed suicide when Tricky was four years old. Tricky named his debut solo album Maxinquaye after his mother and once said that, although he hardly knew her, he feels like his words are the result of her speaking through him. Tricky explained in an interview that the cause of his mother's suicide was epilepsy; however, Tricky's uncle expressed a different belief in a documentary, identifying the continuous cheating of Tricky's father as the cause.
Tricky spent his youth in the care of his grandmother, who often let him watch old horror films instead of going to school. At the age of 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 after he purchased forged £50 notes from a friend, who later informed the police. Tricky stated in an interview afterwards: "Prison was really good. I'm never going back".
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 successful and Tricky consequently attained international fame, something he was notably uncomfortable with. The Maxinquaye album review by Rolling Stone magazine read: "Tricky devoured everything from American hip-hop and soul to reggae and the more melancholic strains of '80s British rock".
Authors David Hesmondhalgh and Caspar Melville wrote in the book Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA: "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?")." As the Rolling Stone article further explained, Tricky created "a mercurial style of dance music that immediately finds it [sic] 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—entitled "Overcome" and "Hell is 'Round the Corner" on Maxinquaye and "Karmacoma", and "Eurochild" on Protection. Tricky found it difficult to cope with the huge success of Maxinquaye and subsequently eschewed the laid-back soul sound of the first album to create an increasingly edgy and aggressive punk style of music.
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. He points to a cover of The Big Issue, where he has a milder look on his face, as being more representative of 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 difficulty to define sound, so go his lyrics, creating 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 City. Though he did not actually appear in any episodes, in the advertising it appears as if he is a customer of the service.
The launch of a record label entitled "Brown Punk" was announced in mid-2007 that was a collaboration between Tricky and former Island Records executive Chris Blackwell. At the time Tricky explained: "Brown Punk represents a positive movement where you find intellectuals mixing with the working class, rock mixing with reggae and indie mixing with emo." The Dirty, The Gospel, Laid Blak Mexican band My Black Heart Machine were acts that were signed to the label, but as of October 2013, the label appears to be inactive.
Tricky's studio album Knowle West Boy was released in the UK and Ireland in July 2008, and September 2008 in the US. The first single from the album was "Council Estate" and features the artist as the sole vocalist: "It’s the first single I’ve ever done with just me on vocals. I couldn’t whisper that song. I had to come out of myself and do a loud, screaming vocal. I wanted to be a proper frontman on that one." In an interview with The Skinny in July 2008, Tricky mentioned that Knowle West Boy was the first album for which he decided to enlist a co-producer. Ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler was Tricky's initial selection, but, less than enamoured with Butler's technical prowess, Tricky finished the album 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, outtakes and seven previously unreleased mixes of songs such as "Overcome", "Hell is Round the Corner" and "Black Steel".
In December 2009, the media reported that Massive Attack met Tricky in Paris and asked him to work on a future project—Daddy G explained: "Things seem like they've healed between us and Tricky. It's been quite well documented how us and Tricky get on, hasn't it? It's not that well, but things have changed. Things have softened up. We saw Tricky a couple of weeks ago in Paris and it was quite an amicable meeting after five or six years." Tricky agreed to record with the band and he revealed in a June 2013 interview that "there's a couple of songs which are OK, which are really good actually to be honest with you". However, Tricky also stated in June 2013 that he could not spend more than two or three days with Massive Attack and described band member Daddy G as "very arrogant".
Tricky's ninth album Mixed Race was released on 27 September 2010 and the first single from the album became available on 23 August. The album includes contributions from Franky Riley, Terry Lynn, Bobby Gillespie, Hamadouche, Blackman and Tricky's youngest brother Marlon Thaws.
In June 2011 Tricky's then label Brownpunk signed on Mexican band My Black Heart Machine for one single, "It Beats Like This", which Tricky co-produced. My Black Heart Machine was then commissioned by the label to cover a song from Maxinquaye for an album of covers by Brownpunk's roster; the band chose "Hell Is Round the Corner". "It Beats Like This" was released independently by the band on their first EP in April 2013.
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.
On 26 June 2012, 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".
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 featured 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."
Tricky was in a brief relationship with Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk in the 1990s. When asked in mid-2013 about the time the pair spent together, Tricky stated: "I wasn’t good for Bjork. I wasn’t healthy for her. I feel she was really good to me, she gave me a lot of love and she really was a good person to me. I think she cared about me, right?"
Tricky is a father to two daughters. The musician Martina Topley-Bird, who was discovered by Tricky while she was sitting on a wall near his Bristol home, is the mother of one of the daughters Mazy. Topley-Bird revealed their parenting arrangements in a 2010 interview: "she stays with her dad as well. He's a bit peripatetic so she's been moving around a bit. She hasn't had one fixed place for a while".
Tricky youth was frequently filled with violence between his relatives. He stated:″I had seen my uncle stab my other uncle in the house when I was about six, seven. There was a lot of fighting in my great-grandmother's house...you'd go there and then someone would meet up and there'd be a fight, I've seen my uncles fight in the street, I've seen my grandmother fight in the street...my uncle was a notorious man, so my dad stayed away from me from fear of him and my other uncles, partly. I've had one uncle murdered in Bristol. A friend of the family got shot in his head and they chopped off his arms, his legs.″
Tricky extremely hates the trip hop title the media labels him.He stated,″All these kids.....set up record labels and call it trip-hop or ambient lounge music or intelligent jungle. What the fuck is intelligent jungle? It's stuff made up by insecure people... I've been fighting against that kind of bullshit the whole time I've been making records.″
Tricky explained his apathy towards musical awards,he stated: ″I don't give a fuck about a Brit, I don't want you to stand up there and say, 'I wanna thank Tricky.'.......And that reminded me: when we first got into this, we didn't give a fuck, we wanted to make good music. Now all of a sudden it's about Brits. And that's wrong, man.″
|1995||Maxinquaye||3||–||–||–||–||53||–||–||–||–||–||UK: Gold BPI|
|Pre-Millennium Tension||30||140||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||UK: Silver BPI|
|1998||Angels with Dirty Faces||23||84||35||–||32||69||14||–||38||54||–||NZ: #20|
(with DJ Muggs and Dame Grease)
|2001||Blowback||34||138||28||5||27||–||16||43||29||–||33||BEL(Wa): No. 29
|2003||Vulnerable||88||–||–||67||21||–||22||43||29||–||27||BEL(Wa): No. 28|
|2008||Knowle West Boy||63||147||–||35||35||–||31||86||29||–||25||BEL(Wa): No. 89
|2010||Mixed Race||118||–||–||–||61||–||33||–||–||–||99||BEL(Wa): No. 69|
|2013||False Idols||66||149||–||34||17||–||93||–||–||–||30||BEL(Wa): No. 43|
Singles and EPs
|Year||Song||UK Singles Chart||FR
|The Hell E.P.||12|
|"I Be The Prophet"||66||Nearly God|
|"Makes Me Wanna Die"||29|
|1998||"Money Greedy" / "Broken Homes"||25||56||Angels with Dirty Faces|
|2000||Mission Accomplished EP||-||83||-|
|2001||"Evolution Revolution Love"||-||Blowback|
|2002||"You Don't Wanna"|
|2008||"Council Estate"||-||Knowle West Boy|
|2010||"Murder Weapon"||-||76||Mixed Race|
|2011||"Time to Dance"||-|
|"Mediate" (INXS featuring Tricky)||-||Mediate: The Ralphi Rosario Remixes|
|2013||"Nothing's Changed"||-||False Idols|
- Afrika Islam
- Damon Albarn
- Pete Briquette
- Bernard Butler
- Rob Cavallo
- Neneh Cherry
- Chuck D
- Cath Coffey
- Greg Cohen
- Lisa Coleman
- Elvis Costello
- Pete Doherty
- Carmen Ejogo
- John Frusciante
- Nelly Furtado
- Bobby Gillespie
- Alison Goldfrapp
- Terry Hall
- PJ Harvey
- Chesney Hawkes
- Joseph Franklin Hunt
- Scott Ian
- Inner Circle
- Grace Jones
- Josh Klinghoffer
- Ed Kowalczyk of Live
- Cyndi Lauper
- Mad Dog
- Massive Attack
- Wendy Melvoin
- Alanis Morissette
- Mos Def
- Alison Moyet
- DJ Muggs
- Paul Oakenfold
- Alice Offley
- Yoko Ono
- Tim Pierce
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Marc Ribot
- Ralphi Rosario
- Mark Saunders
- Jane Scarpantoni
- Émilie Simon
- Sub Sub
- Mark Thwaite
- Martina Topley-Bird
- Keisha White
- "Birth Registration Details" Ancestry.co.uk (Retrieved 20 July 2009)
- "Tricky Interview | The End". Endclub.com. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- Tim Adams (19 September 2010). "Tricky: 'I can still be really dark in my mind'". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- Alex Cater (January 2012). "BUNNY MARRETT". Bristol Archive Records. Bristol Archive Records. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
- "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", Rolling Stone, 2 February 1998.[dead link]
- 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.
- [dead link]
- 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.
- [dead link]
- Kitty. "The Fifth Element". Moon-palace.de. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- Mike Diver (26 July 2007). "Tricky and Chris Blackwell launch Brown Punk". Drowned in Sound. Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- My Black Heart Machine (March 2013). "My Black Heart Machine – Making Little Tragedies" (Video upload). My Black Heart Machine on Vimeo. Vimeo, LLC. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- Amrit Singh (27 May 2008). "New Tricky Video – "Council Estate"". Stereogum. SpinMedia. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- Dave Kerr (30 July 2008). "Tricky: Real Gone Kid". The Skinny. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
- "Tricky – Maxinquaye". Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- Georgie Rogers (8 December 2009). "Massive Attack and Tricky make up". BBC News. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- Tom Mann (12 June 2013). "Tricky on Massive Attack, Bjork, Obama and false idols". FasterLouder. FasterLouder Pty Ltd. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- Caballero, Jorge (13 August 2012). "My Black Heart Machine lanzará en septiembre su primer EP: Little Tragedies". La Jornada. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "Tricky | Tricky Was Mortified By Ill-fated Beyonce Duet". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Minsker, Evan (27 February 2013). "Tricky Announces New Album False Idols, Shares Track "Nothing's Changed"". PitchforkMedia. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- Tom Mann (12 June 2013). "Tricky on Massive Attack, Bjork, Obama and false idols". FasterLouder. FasterLouder Pty Ltd. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- Killian Fox (11 July 2010). "Martina Topley Bird: 'I played Boggle till 4am the other night. Is that rock'n'roll enough for you?'". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- "Tricky discography". lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Tricky discography". swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Ola discography". swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- [dead link]
- 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 | Artist". Official Charts. 20 April 1996. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Unreleased song intended for Nearly God
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