LOS ANGELES (Top 40 Charts) - Tricky
is the next king of pop. At least thatís the tact the mercurial enigma is taking on for the release of his current opus, Blowback, which finds him in a somewhat raucous mood. Always pushing the musical envelope, the pigeon-hole-defying artist has chosen a decidedly rock route with which to make his latest mark on the pop culture ethos. Long heralded as the father of the so-called trip hop movement and a product of the seemingly endless talent emanating from Bristol, England, Trickyís burning urge to constantly reinvent himself is something he has long mulled since he first broke away from the critically acclaimed outfit Massive
Attack in late 1991 just as they achieved major success. He has been especially conscious since the self-enforced, two-year hiatus following the 1999 release, Juxtapose, his last full album. ďI canít imagine writing, say, a drum Ďn bass album that sounds like the last thing I did five years in a row,Ē
he says puffing on a strong, tightly packed smoke that smells suspiciously like herbage. ďIíd rather just go get a regular job or something. I donít want to be a rapper or a rock star or any of that. I just want to do my own thing on my terms. I can make the music I want to make, while other artists are stuck in one genre.Ē
His chameleon-like self-reinvention is at times staggering as he veers from eccentric spectral, downtempo protagonist, through straight up, fly hip-hop MC, to all-out rocker. He knows heíll probably alienate the purists that are loyal to the trip-hop Tricky persona, but as he wearily scans the room and trades barbs with his cohorts, Tricky looks far from concerned.
ďI donít care if the people, the press, whoever, donít follow me. If you can ít handle change, than thatís your problem. I honestly donít care about losing fans. I do this for myself, and Iím in a position where I can do whatever I want. I have sold records without the support of radio and all that, so I can survive on my own name.Ē
Tricky, born Adrian Thaws, also says his need for change is to confound the so-called pretenders, who bereft of their own ideas blatantly dip into his creative well. ďNo one can copy this as easily. The new music Iíve done might take a while to digest, but they probably wonít be able to copy it. Iíve met people who have tried to copy what Iíve done and yet donít really know who I am; they just know the music. Theyíve even gone as far as to recreate my live shows. What people donít realize is that Iíve influenced all kinds of music, especially dance and techno, but they never give credit. Is it because they have a lack of integrity? I think the music industry does lack a lot of integrity.Ē
He continues: ďI know Iíve influenced a lot of bands, but theyíll never admit it. I met some guy from the Sneaker Pimps and he was like, ĎOh yeah, I remember you from somewhere.í He didnít know who I was, but he knew my music. They copied what I was doing, but in a pop format.Ē
Whether theyíll wish to copy Blowback, Trickyís latest vinyl incarnation, is anyoneís guess. Some efforts like his 1995 masterpiece, Maxinquaye, added a much-needed jolt to the often staid music of the time, whereas the following yearís Nearly God was often mired in unabashedly self-indulgent artistry.
Love him or loathe him, thereís no denying the British expatriate is fearless. (Or is that crazy?) Whatís surprising is that despite Trickyís obvious disdain for much of what the music industry is about, he is now courting the idea of mainstream acceptability, though he reiterates that it must truly be on his own terms.
ďYeah, why canít I get played next to Britney Spears on the radio? Why not? Iíve created something new and I feel itíll sell with some radio exposure. I canít run on reputation forever,Ē he says. However, he says his desire to be played on the radio is to add some substance to the sonic pop touted by the media. Pop the public so readily devours. While Tricky is so obviously an astute businessman and artist, his unceasing, stubborn passion for the esoteric always manages to rear its head. For that, you canít fault him. On his most serious pop outing, Tricky teams up with a slew of mainstream talent including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, namely vocalist Anthony Keidis, bassist Flea and prodigious guitarist, John Frusciante. Known for his somewhat quirky collaborations with the likes of PJ Harvey, Alison Moyet and Bjork, he enlists the vocal talents of that ilk, including the inimitable Cyndi Lauper and Ambersunshower, a woefully underrated singer/songwriter, who had released a little known album called Walter T. Smith on Gee Street/V2 Records a few years back. Quirky and immensely talented, Ambersunshowerís vocals complement the mad genius of Trickyís boisterous grooves. On his vocalist, he heaps ample praise. ďThereís no one out there right now doing soul or R&B that I can listen to,Ē he says, and then pauses and puffs on his smoke. ďNo, there really isnít anyone, except Ambersunshower. Thereís no one I really want to listen to. A lot of these singers rely on second-hand emotions. Ambersunshower is different.Ē
Tricky, who now resides in New Jersey, is refreshingly amiable, a guy who isnít as serious as people think he is. ďIím only aloof when I get a bad writer, who tries to rile me, so they can write negative shit about me. They can fuck off. Itís just that I donít suffer fools. I canít! Iím a joker though. I might seem intimidating, but Ií m chill.Ē And, right on cue, when asked about his thoughts on his place in pop culture, he chuckles slyly. ďI want to be as big as Michael Jackson. Iíll put me in the Hall of Fame. All them other artists would get dropped and I would put me in, Tool, Madd Dogg (an artist heís working with), all my crew,Ē he says, shooting a look at his sibs on the other side of the room. ďThe Hall of Fame would be all reggae and dancehall artists. Loverís rock can go though.Ē
Tricky, King of Pop! Funny, but given the drivel that assaults our ears on the airwaves, that might not be such a bad idea after all....