Skip to main content
Select Source:

Tricky

Tricky

Producer, composer, singer, songwriter

From Massive to Maxinquaye

Dubbed Revolutionary Artist

I Want to Control Hip-Hop

Selected discography

Sources

Despite having been credited with inventing the genre known as trip-hopthe spacey, atmospheric variation on hip-hop that began captivating listeners in the mid-1990sthe multi-faceted British artist known as Tricky has worked to distance himself from the label. People are always making up stupid names for shit, he complained in Option. It is this impatience with categories that has driven him, from his early work with the groundbreaking group Massive Attack to his rapidly evolving solo recordings and collaborations with artists both world-famous and obscure. Trickys passion for new sounds has led him to push aside boundaries with reckless abandon, wielding samples and beats in disorienting new ways. Sometimes my music dont work on the first listen, he asserted to Dennis Romero of the Los Angeles Times. You could listen to it and think, Hmm, whats this all about? You have to take time and be gentle with it. It dont hit you straightaway.

Adrian Thaws, as Tricky was christened, grew up in Bristol, England to Anglo-Caribbean parents. His mother took her own life when he was only 4; his father departed soon thereafter and left young Adrian in the care of his uncles and grandparents. The underworld activities of his uncles influenced his own adolescent misbehavior. I was quite violent growing up, he told Romero, doing it because there was nothing else to do. Though he grew up to a backdrop of reggae, his imagination was captured by ska, the uptempo Jamaican pop that saw a huge resurgence in Britain during the first wave of punk in the late 1970s and early80s. In particular Tricky Kid, as he was then knownthanks to his skill at petty crimerevered the bi-racial ska-rock of The Specials. He later became enamored of hip-hop storytellers like Slick Rick and Rakim.

From Massive to Maxinquaye

Tricky fell in with a posse of Bristol hip-hoppers known as the Wild Bunch, rapping at parties and experimenting with mixing. Soon he found himself rapping with seminal hip-hop innovators Massive Attack. He spent several years working with the groupeventually producing and writing lyrics in addition to contributing vocalsbut then found even their relatively open approach too limiting. He had met a teenaged singer named Martina Topley Bird and recorded a track with her titled Aftermath; Massive Attack decided not to use it, and Tricky subsequently went solo. While preparing his own musical recipe, he also collaborated with cutting-edge pop artists like Björk. A couple of solo singles became very popular in the underground dance music world. Trickys subversive, pot-fueled sound

For the Record

Born Adrian Thaws, c. 1967, in Bristol, England; children: (with Martina Topley Bird) Maisey, born 1995 .

Singer, producer, and songwriter, c. 1980s-. Member of group Massive Attack, c. 1990-95; produced tracks for Björk, Neneh Cherry, and other artists, c. 1990s; signed with Island Records and released solo debut album, Maxinquaye, 1995; released album under umbrella name Nearly God on own Durban Poison imprint, 1996.

Addresses: Record company Island Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019; 8920 Sunset Blvd., 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

alongside the dark vibe of fellow Bristol act Portisheadwas declared truly original. Island record tracked him down despite the fact that he had no permanent residence, offering him a unique contract that permitted him to record with other labels and even let him create his own imprint.

This eclectic vision was first unleashed in its unadulterated form on Trickys debut solo album, Maxinquaye. Named after his mother, the album embraces a vast range of styles, and includes Black Steel, a version of Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos by rap agitators Public Enemy. The Tricky version is sung by Bird in a disaffected murmur that undercuts the originals fury. I knew it was going to work, Tricky said of the track in Musician. I fed around with some Indian religious music to make that beat up, and Id had it for ages. As soon as Martina sang it, I knew wed gotten it right. And Chuck liked it, he added, referring to Public Enemy leader Chuck D. He came up to me at a party and said Thank you and all I could say was Thank you. In the wake of the albums release, Tricky described his approach in Pulse!. I take a sample, rip it apart and then replay it on the keyboards, he declared. Im just a little kid messing around. Its like throwing paints on the floor and saying its art. Critics generally felt the album was art, and showered the young producer-artist with acclaim.

Dubbed Revolutionary Artist

By 1995, the accolades had become nearly religious in their intensity. Spin put him at the top of their list of artists who represented The Future of Rock, calling Maxinquaye revolutionary. Tricky himself told the magazine, I dont try to make a song. I dont use big sounds or melodies. His disavowal of pop song structure was even more decisive on the 1996 release Nearly God, a collaboration with a number of well-known artists that included Terry Hall of The Specialsone of Trickys heroesas well as Neneh Cherry, Björk, and Alison Moyet. Bird also contributed to the collection, which Rolling Stone described as a set of collaborative vocal-soundscape improvisations and deemed fabulous.

I Want to Control Hip-Hop

The same year Tricky Presents Grassroots, an EP, was released. This effort explored more traditional hip-hop territory with young rappers Hillfiguzes and other relatively untested artists, yet it fared less well with critics, who awaited yet another 1996 album, Pre-Millennium Tension, with bated breath. Oh, its punk, Tricky said of the latter in Raygun. Its just a punk attitude, a total punk attitude. In the same interview, he expressed a desire for far-flung power in music. I want to control hip-hop, he declared. I want to control jungle, I want to control rock music, I just want to keep destroying everybodys illusions. There aint no point in being in it, unless youre in it that deep.

Tricky is probably the most spontaneous music person Ive met, Bjork told Spin. That is very smittening. Affects you on a creative/unconventional level, not on an artificial/musical one. That spontaneity was reflected in Trickys affinity for wild photo shoots, cross-dressing, and other flamboyant displays. His home life, however, was fairly down-to-earth, much affected by the birth of a daughter, Maisey, whom he had with Bird. Because of her, I m more positive, he told the Los Angeles Times. Yet he never claimed to have been a former wild man tamed by fatherhood. Im completely normal, he claimed in Raygun. Im like fish and chips. Really normal.

Selected discography

Solo releases

Maxinquaye (includes Black Steel), Island, 1995.

Pre-Millennium Tension, Island, 1996.

Tricky Presents Grass Roots, Island, 1996.

With Massive Attack

Blue Lines, Virgin, 1991.

Protection, Virgin, 1995.

Others

BjOrk, Post, Elektra, 1995.

Whale, We Care, Virgin, 1995.

Nearly God, Nearly God, Durban Poison/Island, 1996.

Sources

Detour, October 1996.

LA Weekly, October 4, 1996.

Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1995; July 28, 1996.

Musician, February 1996; October 1996.

Option, September 1996.

Pulse!, June 1995.

Raygun, October 1996.

Rolling Stone, August 22, 1996.

Spin, June 1995; November 1995; January 1996; October 1996.

Additional information was obtained from Island Records publicity materials, 1996.

Simon Glickman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Tricky." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Tricky." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/tricky

"Tricky." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/tricky

tricky

trick·y / ˈtrikē/ • adj. (trick·i·er , trick·i·est ) (of a task, problem, or situation) requiring care and skill because difficult or awkward: applying eyeliner can be a tricky business some things are very tricky to explain. ∎  (of a person or act) deceitful, crafty, or skillful. DERIVATIVES: trick·i·ly / ˈtrikəlē/ adv. trick·i·ness n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"tricky." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"tricky." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tricky-0

"tricky." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tricky-0

tricky

trickybrickie, Dickie, hickey, icky, mickey, Nicky, picky, quickie, rickey, Rikki, sickie, sticky, tricky, Vicky •milky, silky, Wilkie •Chinky, dinky, Helsinki, inky, Kinki, kinky, minke, pinkie, pinky, slinky, stinky, stotinki •frisky, risky, whisky •Dzerzhinsky, Kandinsky, kolinsky, Nijinsky, Stravinsky •doohickey • smart-alecky • garlicky •colicky • gimmicky • panicky • finicky •plasticky •crikey, Nike, psyche, spiky •choccy, cocky, flocky, gnocchi, hockey, jockey, oche, pocky, rocky, schlocky, stocky •conchae, donkey, honky, shonky, wonky •Brodsky •Malinowski, Minkowski, Stokowski, Tchaikovsky •Chomsky • Trotsky • droshky •jabberwocky •balky, chalky, corky, gawky, Gorky, Milwaukee, pawky, porky, talkie, walkie-talkie •Sikorsky • Mussorgsky

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"tricky." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"tricky." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tricky

"tricky." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tricky