Tricky

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Tricky (born Adrian Nicholas M. Thaws on 27 January 1968) is a musician, producer and actor. He is noted for a dark, rich and layered sound and a whispering lyrical style. Culturally, Tricky encourages an intertwining of societies, 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. His father left the family before he was born and his mother, Maxine Quaye, committed suicide when he was only four. He named his 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 movies 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" (NME 1995).

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. Tricky showed Aftermath to Massive Attack, but they weren't interested. So in 1993 he decided to press a few hundred vinyl copies of the song. He cut it directly off of the tape, so that the song is basically "just bassline and hiss". (NME '94). Finally, a white label got him a contract with Island Records and he started to record his first solo album.

He 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 black community in 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.

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 (Toronto), about why the lyrics were the same, they jokingly said that it was because he was lazy.