Trick Daddy: Thug Life

posted June 02, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 22 comments

Now that R&B singers are using it to define themselves, its pretty safe to assume the word thug has lost its original meaning. In 1997, roughly a year after Tupac Shakur passed away, Trick Daddy Dollars placed his image on a food stamp and took it upon himself to try and cater to an audience clamoring for a representation of thug life. The digital era may have ushered in the EBT card in place of the food stamp, and hes dropped the dollars from the end of his name, but Trick Daddy still holds himself responsible for representing the thugs of the world.

After over a decade at the house he helped build, Trick is about to introduce a new generation of Miami artists to the game via his Dunk Ryders label. The true definition of a thug remains as hard to define as it was when Tupac shouted it out for everyone to hear. If it involves parenting, community outreach, mentoring newer artists and broadening your original goals while the money keeps coming in, then its hard to imagine Pac would be mad.

HipHopDX: As one of the first people in Hip Hop to bring the spotlight to Florida, how do you feel about the current crop of artists?
Trick Daddy:
I feel like theyre representing, but my main concern is if well be able to feed our kids off of it. Will we be able to pay our bills two or three years from now? Thats the only part that confuses me. But, we are representing because thats what we do. Its the waterI think its something in the water. Weve been making music and weve been doing this, but now its at a point where theyre playing our music in various areas. Theyre actually listening to what we have to say.

DX: When you say youre worried, are you talking about just the artistic quality, or people being able to go to the next level and actually be owners?
TD:
Right, with the label thing it gets kind of confusing. Dont get it twisted because it [only] takes $150 to start a label. But, do you have artists? Do you know what youre doing? Is youre music sufficient enough to represent this state? I dont think everybody should be allowed toI dont think everybody should be in a position where they can make music. I dont agree with or listen to all of the music coming out of Florida. It just so happens that weve got a lot of big acts out here now. You got [me], Rick Ross, Trina, The Dunk Ryders, Blood Raw, Ball Greezy, Bizzle, Flo Rida, C-Ride, Ace and [DJ] Khaled are doing their thing. Plus youve got several other artists out of the state of Florida doing their thing now too.

Its our time, and we need to get together and stick together. We have to stick together and represent our state and our city. We cant let them force our hands to the point where were dissing each other on records or making little sneak diss records. A lot of dudes wont even admit theyre dissing you on the sly. Im gonna do whatever I gotta do to represent the state of Florida, even with the local acts.

I dont know why the word local gets so much bad press. If you aint local, then you aint shit! Just cause youre from the town, now youre supposed to be local because youre from Miami? No, this the same shit youve been listening to. If youre between the ages of 15 and 35 up to 40, then Trick raised you. With the exception of feeding and bathing you, I pretty much raised you. You cant tell me you didnt listen to my music. If you liked rap music before Trick, then Pac raised you, because thats who raised me. 2Pac, Scarface, Ice Cube, AZthose people raised me, and Ive been a music fanatic all my life. So Ill do whatever I have to do.

DX: If you take all that into account, is there any more you can do?
TD:
When I do features and shows, I charge a Florida price. If youre from Miami then you get the Miami price, because the closer you are the cheaper the price. A lot of people are intimidated by a feature from Trick. Put it this way: I would rather somebody get on my track and represent and give me my moneys worth, as opposed to getting somebody I had high expectations of and they fumble. If I come to you and say I want to do a song with you, that means that Im a fan, okay? What we have to remember as entertainers is that without fans were not shit.

Without radio we wouldnt have big records, and without producers we wouldnt have our sound. People have to know all this is one. I do music for my fans. Ive kept my fans for so long because I dont let them down. If you get Trick to feature on your song, youll get your moneys worth. A lot of people are intimidated and afraid of hearing, Man you put Trick on your song. You shouldnt have did thatthats Tricks song now. You need to do your part. If I outdid you on a song, thats what I do. I just represent for my fans.

DX: I want to backtrack, because you mentioned 2Pac, who was the only other person to use the word thug as much as you do. How did he influence you?
TD:
I only listen to rap music that I can relate to. It just so happens that 2Pac and I had a similar upbringing. First of all, were the great-grand babies of slaves. Were both black males who were incarcerated at a young age with no right to vote or carry firearms. A lot of other rights of ours were taken away also. But, the main thing that me and 2Pac have in common is that his music is believable. He could put you there. Theres a song on each one of my albums that someone has personally came to me and told me touched their hearts. Thug Holiday, Children Hold On and America are all for the strugglers. I dont boast and brag about the houses and the cars because everybody aint got that. My music is for the bases, the jail cells and the ghettos. I make music for the convicted felons. I cry for them, and thats why 2Pac was such a huge influence on my lifelet alone my career.

DX: Is it hard to strike a balance between your fans who want more songs like America and Aint No Santa and the people who want singles like In The Wind?
TD:
On all my big records from Lets Go, Take It to the House, Im A Thug to Nann Nigga, I dont think people actually understood what I said. Sometimes it aint what you do, but how you do it. You have to listen to my records. When I say, You dont know nann nigga, thats a nigga record, and the white folks loved it. I spelled Amerikkka with three Ks and they loved it. On Im A Thug Im basically telling them, This is how I am and if you dont like it, fuck you. They loved it. On Lets Go Im telling them, If you think youre badder than me, I will fuck you up. You can go get whoever you wanna get. And guess what? People loved that too because of how I said it.

Thanks to K.C. and a lot of the people who kept it real with me as far as clearing samples. I couldve had tons and tons of those. I have more hits in me now. My album thats coming out now Finally Famous: Born a Thug, Die a Thug will give you the same treatment. Im not gonna sugarcoat nothing, because I dont know how to do that. I go through the front door; the backdoor is for exit only.

DX: Speaking of exits, would you like to comment on what happened at Slip-N-Slide?
TD:
As far as me not being on Slip-N-Slide Records anymore, that was a sore growing on my foot that I healed. I put Neosporin on it and I can walk now. Im tired of being a crutch. Ive held you hand long enough. Cmon, stand up and walk on your own. Pay homage and show me the love. Know that people have always thought and will continue to think that I am Slip-N-Slide. Me, Trina and Rick Ross grew our careers together.

A lot of people think Ross is a new artist. No, Ross is an artist that was held back for many years. He woke up one day and said, If I want this I gotta go get it on my own. I dont want anybody to take credit for Rick Ross career except Poe Boy Entertainment, Rick Ross and E-Class. Trina was supposed to be one of my artists. Cant nobody take credit for Trinas career but me.

Coming up, the more money I started getting, the more the head of my household started getting jittery. The offers went from coming every nine months to coming every 12 months. Then the offers only started coming every year-and-a-half. Ive got too many features, too much respect with radio and in the hood for my career to be postponed for any reason. I wont let that happen to my artists.

DX: It definitely sounds like it was more than just the business aspect of the relationship.
TD:
It was more than just the business aspect of why Im not over there anymore. Im grown. I want to pick up my own spoon, stick it in my plate and feed myself. Its certain things that puzzle me. When you never call me and say, I love you, man. Thanks, man. Its crazy that Ive sold a lot of records and made a lot of money for the company. I paid a lot of bills and [my sales] bought a lot of houses and cars for the people who work at and own these companies. Its funny that our kids never played with crayons together. Its funny that my kid can walk past your kid and not even know him.

DX: You were doing things a label head would do long before you introduced this Dunk Ryders joint venture with Cash Money. As someone who was only on his second album, what did you see in Trina that made you confident about giving her a verse on Nann Nigga?
TD:
She was out here in the streets with me. Shes from my era and I grew up with her. We grew up with drug dealers as our role models. People from the ghetto grow up wanting to be drug dealers and wanting to marry drug dealers. Women wanted them and the men wanted to be that. All we knew was to hustle and get that quick money. Trina is the finest, prettiest young things that I knew from growing up as a child.

One of the top three women rappers that I respect the utmost and love is Mia X, Mama Mia was the number one of all time. The next two were Lil Kim and Foxy Brown. I loved their music for the same reason I loved Pacit was believable. So, I wanted to create something that all women could get on her level. Thats where Da Baddest Bitch comes from.

DX: Were you performing that role with anyone else on the label. There was a lot of talent under the Slip-N-Slide umbrella?
TD: Slip-N-Slide
had a lot of artists J-Shin, The Lost Tribe, Society, Trina, Money Mark & CO, Don Yuteand I dont want to insult anybody by forgetting them. We were all a family, but the head of our household let us stray off and separate. If you live in my housemy car is my house, my clothes, my company and my homeall that is my house. The number one rule in my house is that all of us get along. All of us are equal. If you dont run your house that way, you dont have control of nothing and they wont respect you as a parent.

DX: Lets talk about the new house youve built. You have a joint venture with Cash Money for your Dunk Ryders label, right?
TD:
Ive got a joint venture with Cash Money for the first group off of my new label. I dont want everybody to think Im signed to Cash Money. If they get that money right, then I will be screaming, Cash Money! As of right now, its Dunk Ryders till I die. I have investors now and I have a business partner. I have rich friends that believe in Trick and know that I am out of my situation at Slip-N-Slide. My friends are willing to sacrifice their time, money and music to keep this Miami shit going for a long, long time.

DX: Can you explain how you and Cash Money came together to make it happen?
TD:
Ive always respected Cash Money. They started out around the same time as No Limit and Slip-N-Slide. We were the labels, along with J. Prince over at Rap-A-Lot. He motivated me so much, cause he was putting out so many groups. And I never knew how much money J. Prince made, but I knew how much notoriety he had. They respected him so much at BET and MTV and these magazines because he was such a gutter nigga. I always wanted to be that nigga.

DX: So when we hear Dunk Ryders does that consist of Gold Ru$h, Fella, Iceberg, Bad Guy and Baby Girl?
TD:
No. The Dunk Ryders are Iceberg, Fella and my little brother Soup whos incarcerated right now. Hes doing a federal sentence cause some old snitch ass nigga set him up behind some petty shit that they shouldve went to prison for. Instead of going in for the rest of their life, they set up my little brother. Bad Guy is one of my artists, Gold Ru$h is one of my artists and a producer whos also on my label.

DX: How long has this been in the works?
TD: Dunk Ryders Records
? About the last two years. I just got the studio gutted out and we doing everything right. We aint on that flashy shit. The dress code is all black, so it aint no sense coming around with no reds, blues or pinks. You do that shit when youre with your family.

DX: The word on the street is that youre headed to Def Jam? Are you at least leaning that way?
TD:
Ive got a lot of respect for Def Jam. Def Jam put out a lot of artists and theyve had a lot of success in the music game. Im leaning toward putting my shit out on my own. I want my masters. I want my ringtone money. I want my publishing. I want to be able to feature and do what I want to do. Ive been in the game long enough.

As far as one of my artists signed to my label, its a strong possibility that one of them could have a deal through Def Jamwhatever I think is better for them. Its very important that people know my artists' opinions has a lot to do with the decisions I make. Im not the type of person who will do you any kind of way once Ive got paperwork on you. I want you to be happy and content with it. If it doesnt work, I want you to say, We fucked up. If it does work remember we did it together, God damn it.

DX: Obviously there will be something coming in the next few weeks about your status and this Finally Famous album. What can you tell us right now?
TD:
My fans will be impressed. On [Back By Thug Demand] I did a lot of samples that I couldnt get clearance with. I aint going for that sucka shit no more. Im not into sending somebody my record and getting them to feature on it only to find that their manager or label doesnt want to clear them. They want to hold you up telling you not to release it until a certain date. Im not fucking with nobody like that anymore. Its basically the same Trick album. Ive got something for the club, something for the women and everything is strictly for the thugs. Youll have to listen to it.

DX: In addition to the thugs, you seem to be the only person who directly addresses the Geechie folks.
TD:
Right, they act like they forget where they come from. I still eat my greens with my ham. I still pour hot sauce on all my food, and rice is the number one side dish with every meal I cook. If youre from the south then youve got Geechie in you. I eat my pork and I love my pork chops, bacon, hog maws and pig feet.

DX: I read somewhere that there are some corporations trying to buy and take the land from them in parts of South Carolina and Georgia. Do you think the Geechie folks will become a lost culture?
TD:
Nah, its not gonna work. Real Geechie folks aint leaving the country. There are certain parts of Florida youve never heard of where they go catch their food and kill it. They can try to come in there and fuck with them Geechie folk if they want to. It wont be no Rosewood shit or no Mississippi Burning. They got AKs these days.

DX: Since you named your label after them, youre obviously a fan of dunks. Now that Floridas blowing up, do you think you have any competition?
TD:
Hey, I am the don dada of the Dunk Ryders. Lets get that clear first. I am the don dada of the Dunk Ryders, so if they pull up alongside of me, they better mind. I will spank they ass. I dont park; I land because my shit be flying. The color of my car is candy, ganja green.

DX: Youre also one of the few Hip Hop artists to regularly call in to ESPN Radio and talk sports with them. What the hell is going on with Jason Taylor?
TD:
[Laughs] You know hes made People magazines "100 Most Beautiful [People]" list two years in a row. Hes been on Dancing with the Stars, and he was already used to wearing those tight pants, so hes ready to get into acting, man. Jason Taylors done a lot for the Dolphins but hes ready to move on. I love JT for everything hes done for the kids and the community. He has a beautiful wife, who is Zach Thomas sister. She carries herself like a lady, unlike a lot of these athletes wives. A lot of these athletes wives are out here off-sides.

Jason Taylor
is a real humble and lovable person. If someone is mad at JT then theyve got to have a real beef with him. Hes a grown man. He played for us for a lot of years and gave us outstanding play from someone of that size at the position he plays. If he wants to act, then I support him 100%. I was mad when Ricky [Williams] wanted to take that weed break, but I aint mad at him no more.

DX: Now that youve made me feel all bad, we gotta switch to basketball. Would you rather the Heat get Rose or Beasly with that number two pick?
TD:
Well, Im feeling Rose. Id take either one of them, though. Id take Beasly if I had to. Were gonna have to pick up a big man to help [Shawn] Marion out in the middle, and then Im ready to roll. I think the Miami Hurricanes will be the biggest turnaround in NCAA Football history. As you can see the baseball team is already number one in the nation. My Florida Marlins are in first place now. Its our time, man.

Weve got the bluest water, the prettiest women, the greenest grass, and the prettiest colors and in a minute well have a championship in every major sport down here. Lets see what my city gone do. I love my city more than I love anything else in the world.

DX: Thats some serious civic pride. What do you love so much about Miami?
TD:
We have every culture and ethnic backgroundHaitians, Jamaicans, Guyanese, Chinese, Cubans and Columbians. We have somebody from every country, and our neighborhood supports anything possible. We have fresh fishyellow tail, snapper, you name it. And, we get crunk. Aint no city like my city, and thats why they compare it to a lot of states. When you come to Miami, kick back and enjoy the sun. Remember where youre from, where youre at and to respect me, and then I wont mind you sitting next to me courtside at the Heat game.

DX: I hear youre pretty active in charity work down there too.
TD: Trick
love the kids. Every year I make sure 1,500-2,000 kids get their school supplies. I remember growing up in the projects and some things we didnt get were shoes, clothes and supplies. I want to make sure they at least get their school supplies. Every Christmas I get them their toys, because childhood is supposed to consist of fond memories not growing pains. Growing pains are for grown folks. Kids are supposed to have pictures. I dont have a picture of myself any younger than 13-years-old.

So we take them out there and get the clowns, play games and do giveaways if you bring home good grades. I take special care of those ones that make As and Bs on their report cards. If youre making As and Bs, then that means your momma is doing something right. It doesnt mean youre smarter than the other kids. I commend those parents raising their children right.

DX: Now you came up with in a big family too, right?
TD:
Yeah it was 11 of us. Counting my momma it was 12 of us in a three bedroom. If you got home late there was no more coversthats what we called our blankets and quilts, covers. So if you came in the house too late you had to get your ass on that floor. The bed was already full.

DX: How do you apply all that when youre parenting?
TD:
Man, I sit back sometimes and people will say, Whats on your mind? Youre smiling so youre up to something. Im just so grateful, you know? Sometimes I just want to scream, but I dont want anybody to think that Im crazy. So instead of doing that, I just continue to do good and be a help. I want to continue to motivate em so they know the difference between struggling and making it. Either way it goes youre gonna have to make it, but theres a way to make the struggle a little bit lighter on yourself.

I teach the kids to stop always wanting something. Instead of always wanting something go for the things you need. I tell my friends, You dont need a new car because this nigga has a new car. Your car is paid for and that boy is making payments. If you go get a new car and try to compete with him, youll be out of your house in a minute.

DX: And Im guessing you can apply that to being the head of a label too?
TD:
The problem with a lot of these bosses is that they dont know how to pay their workers. If I cant afford two steaks, we can definitely get two burgers. It doesnt make sense for me to be eating a Porterhouse and you have a goddamn kids meal from Burger King. I dont rock like that.

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