The Diamond Princess shines with happiness now. She tells DX about her artistic and personal breakthrough, and if her Pop album makes us wonder why she ever called herself "da baddest bitch."
Whenever you hear the phrase “Da Baddest Bitch” in Rap, there’s really only one who comes to mind. Katrina Laverne Taylor is back and ready to reclaim her position as the queen of the south. This time, a lot of people seem to believe in her, as Trina's fifth album due next week, Amazin' features a new sound, and a helping-hand from the likes of Diddy, Nicki Minaj and Keri Hilson. If the music weren't enough of a progression, just read where Trina's head is at these days.
Happiness reverberates from Trina right now. sustaining from within and it mirrors her latest efforts. Once perceived as easily bothered, 2010's artist is incredibly pleased with her completed product. She says she's effectively planned, organized, and executed her best album to date. There's a difference between cleaning it up, and polishing, as well as a difference between change versus growth. Watching Miami's once-mad mami evolve to a charitable, almost pleasant lady says that well after her battles were fought, between others, herself and perceptions, Trina is victorious.
HipHopDX: There must be numerous levels that one must posses to be considered the “baddest chick.” Can you give me the break down of who Trina is in 2010.
Trina: Just focused very, very focused and happy. I’m very focused-oriented and just driven towards acquiring continued success. I want more out of life now than ever. It’s a beautiful thing when you can understand what you do, and you know what you want, so you’re able to work hard and go get it. That’s just the mindset that I’m at this moment.
DX: You mention being happy, I know when an artist is happy in their personal life, it comes across in their music. What types of things contribute to Trina’s happiness on a day-to-day basis?
Trina: I’m just mentally, in a great place. I’m happy over the [Amazin']. I have great people around me. My life is great and everything is just beautiful. It’s a type of happiness that I just can’t really explain, but it’s taking over me and I’m so full of joy. I’m really proud of the album, I was able to have a lot of control and do the type of records that I actually wanted to do. I was able to do things outside of the box and see that it worked so I’m just excited about it. I recorded “Million Dollar Girl” , and it was one of those records that was different for me. I was trying to make music that feels good, and that I love and I hope the fans will love also.
I had great moments in the studio and great times making the album as a whole. I was all into myself and focused on this moment in my life. There were some great moments and some not-so-great moments, and I was able to bring all of that out into the studio and that just felt really good. I’m very proud of the entire album.
DX: What is the biggest misconception that you think people may have formed about you, if anything? Also, as a celebrity yourself, do you ever find yourself prone to judging other celebrities?
Trina: I don’t judge people. I love the feel of as soon as you open the door and meet some one for the first time, it puts off a certain chemistry from that person. When you meet them, you will sense their energy whether they are such a sweet person or a bitch. I don’t like to judge people because I’m a person who is always judged on TV, magazines, or from the interviews. People make these perceptions and think that they really know me so well. The reality is you have no idea! You have no idea of my personality and of my true character. You can’t really tell who a person is just through their music because music is a form of creation. Music is only a form of expression. When I write a song, I could be writing it from someone else’s point of view which has nothing to do with my life directly at all. I could be talking about my best friend, or someone I met, or even something going down in the street, so sometimes I’m just the channel that the message is communicated through, so therefore you do not know me.
I don’t just judge people I try and precede with them through instinct and by their energy so it’s based a lot off of the first impression that they make. If I don’t know you then I’m definitely not going to make an assumption about you. As far as the misconceptions towards me, I’ve gotten that people think they have to feel intimidated about me. People think, "Oh, she’s going to be the bitch type.” But I say to that, "How do you know that when you don’t know me?" The truth is I’m fun and energetic. I can be serious but I’m also sophisticated and strong. There are many parts to just simply being a human. I’m certainly not walking around with a chip on my shoulder. The majority of the time I’m just a happy person. That’s the energy that people feed off when they finally do meet me.
DX: With the decline in the economy and particularly within the recording industry have you had to revise your previous business structure of techniques, or are you still applying the same business principles that garnered your original success?
Trina: I use the same business tactics that have always worked for me. I’ve always made smart decisions and I’ve invested wisely. You know, this is a business and I do treat it as such at all times. I learned that early on, which I’m so thankful for today. When I first came into the business I was 19, and I just thought it was all about having fun with the music, videos, and performing but then when it came time to put my album out, then I saw that I was in the studio and just putting in a lot of work. I realized then that this was a business that this was my job and not only that but it’s a 24-hour job. You’re constantly on the go and you constantly have a lot of people around you at all times that have to be moving in the right direction.
When you’re in a business and you’re making a lot of money you have to know what’s happening and that everything is being accounted for. You have to make sure that everybody on your team is trustworthy. You have to be able to make wise decisions at all times. It made me grow up early and I appreciate how it shaped me and made me keep things in line. That’s the thing that keeps me focused and has made me humble.
The reason I’m successful today is because of the techniques that I learned early on. I treat it like a business and you want people to notice that you are business savvy. I have artist that I’m working with now and I mold the same things into them. This is a business, it’s not just fun and games like you see on TV. In order to make it on TV it takes hard work, and handling your business correctly. Especially when it’s a woman, then that requires more work. Women are emotional creatures, and they need more done, so you have to definitely be focused, and handle your job as your business. This has always been a male dominated industry so you have to know what you’re up against and then grind it out. I have a firm understanding on this.
DX: I know Amazin' got pushed back a few times. What was the story with the delays? Was it more so about you wanting to continue recording, or were their blocks from the label?
Trina: Well actually, the delay was more-so centered around trying to get the [artist] clearances [approved]. I had recorded a lot of features and some of my songs had samples that needed to be cleared. Some of the songs that were sampled were by artists that weren’t even living any longer so there was a lot of red tape to get around. There was a lot of back and forth drama, which created delays. Actually, the album got pushed back then it was pushed up. Once I released the “Million Dollar Girl” record, things just took off really quick which made the label decide to push the album back up for release. You know you can get in the studio and have a hot record, hot beat, and hot sample, then you go lay down the vocals and feel like everything is ready to go them boom there’s a block. The block is often that a sample can’t be cleared and then, as the artistm you get upset because that might be one of your favorite tracks so it’s a lot of back and forth. A lot of things like that happened, but we were able to fight through it and deliver a great album.
DX: You mentioned the single, “Million Dollar Girl." Are you pleased with the build up to the album?
Trina: I am, actually. It was just a different sound for me. It was more up-tempo and had a Pop flavor, which made it a great party record. I was just excited because it was like we have this new record out there and it’s really fun and bubbly, so it’s taking off. We’ve had a great response and radio has really [pushed] the record well. I love the way the video turned out. It was such an easy record to make because it was comfortable and I was just in a great spirit while recording it. I’m just really proud of it. Whenever you work on a record and put it out you want this type of reaction so I’m very happy with how well the single is doing. I couldn’t be happier.
DX: How did Diddy come to the project and help shape the album?
Trina: I was just recording the record and I got a call that Diddy had heard the beat, and loved it so he wanted to jump on the song. There wasn’t even any hesitation from my part because he is someone I respect and admire. I look up to him from a business aspect. He’s done such a great job in this industry and it was just an honor to have him on the record. It was also an honor to have him be apart of the video, 'cause everyone was kind of shook like, “Wow, that’s Diddy." he’s iconic! When he came on set he was just so humble and full of energy. He said a prayer and was like, "The cameras are on, let’s get busy." It was like being in class. His energy just boosted my energy. On the video set everything just went amazing. I was ecstatic at how everything went down and it just came together so beautiful.
DX: I know you also have a track “Always” featuring Monica. Who else can we expect to see on the album?
Trina: Actually, the Monica record is going to be my second single. I have Rick Ross and [Lil] Wayne that are on a track together called “Currency.” I also have Nicki Minaj, Lady Saw, Lyfe Jennings, and Flo Rida on the album.
DX: Your album is being described as having more of a Pop element this time. Was that your intent and what made you take that route?
Trina: You know what? It really wasn’t. My intent was to go into the studio and try and produce a great fifth album. I was just so pumped up like wow this is my fifth album and I knew I had to make it special. I was researching my other albums to study my growth as an artist and trying to see how can I make this one stand out better and strong. I was thinking that I could just make a bunch of street records, and sexy records, but I did that already four times so I needed something else. I wanted to try something different and try some new sounds.
I wanted to see what it would be like to do a Poppy-sounding record. I wanted to challenge my creativity as an artist. With the album, I had the freedom, space, and creative control to do so. I just took advantage of that opportunity to make something hot. I was singing on this record and trying different sounds. I was co-producing the album, so I was just sitting in the studio in amazement towards the type of artist I was becoming because it sounded like a brand new artist. I could clearly see my how much I’ve grown as an artist that is able to control my own destiny and that’s a beautiful feeling. In this industry everybody wants you to do a certain type of record or song and have a certain look to promote it a certain way, but I was able to be the one in the driver's seat and it felt good. In life, when you’ve worked so hard and conquered that than you can step out of the norm and do what you want and love to do. I knew I wanted to go left field with the album and shock fans with a new direction, so it's just a great thing overall.
DX: As your fifth album, what message are you trying to convey the most through Amazin'?
Trina: My message with this one [is] that I’m a brand now. You already know my name and what I do. I don’t have to prove anything to the people 'cause I’ve established myself. I just wanted to go into the studio and produce something that is revolutionary. I wanted to make something that would show the different elements of my artistry. I didn’t want to totally change my style, but I wanted to demonstrate that I have grown. My life has changed and I’m in a different place and space so I’m happy and I wanted that to come out in the music. You can’t be scared to create you can’t keep making the same type of music for this many years. Life evolves and in that I have seen and done so many new things and I wanted my new music to reflect that.
DX: How do you manage to be progressive with your music yet remain distinctive to the “Trina Sound” that fans have grown to love?
Trina: I just try and stay as real as I possibly can be. I try and stay connected and provide a woman’s point of view. I’m not perfect; I don’t even like to put that word in the same sentence of my name because I’m constantly on a learning path too. When I do a record I think about my life, where I’m at, what’s taking place, and all the thing that have appeared during my down time while I wasn’t recording. I reflect on my travels and tours or my family and friends to put my own spin on making those experiences into music. I wanted to address all of the elements that we go through in everyday life as regular people. I talk about those in love and those who are so over it. I rap about those who are about their business and those that made need a little help to get motivated. That’s how I create music, there is no theory to it I just like to talk about life. Those are the things that I want to talk about in the studio, and I want to give the people a variety so that they can relate.
DX: I hear that you tour year around, most artist tend to scale back a little once they feel that they’ve made it, what keeps you out on the road so heavy?
Trina: I am a perform-a-holic. [Laughs] I think the thing for me is being able to interact with the people. When I hit the stage with just the fans, and feel their support and love, whether it’s from the screaming or the tears I just love it. Seeing and meeting the people out on the road just turns me into another person. It gives me an adrenaline rush. It’s just different as oppose to seeing me on TV or listening to my CD. The performance of my music is like an explosion or firecracker and I love it. I think that’s what keeps me on the road. I’m driven to perform because I love the fans and I love to perform for them. I can’t get enough of it, I’m an entertainer and that’s just what I do.
DX: When you're traveling and touring and being the “baddest chick” and “the diamond princess,” I’m sure that you’re privy to certain requirements that make your travels comfortable, so tell me what are some must have Trina items, what type of things do you request on your rider?
Trina: I request white towels, I mean that’s a must, 'cause you have to stay sanitized and clean. Let’s see, hand sanitizer, water, ginger ale, salad, 'cause I’m a big salad person. I love a bunch of snacks and junk food. I like grapes and fresh fish or all kinds of food. I have champagne on my rider, ice and an air humidifier just because I do perform a lot, and my voice gets a little crazy. Just with all of the traveling I may be coming in real late and need to be refreshed. Roses are a part of my rider. Roses are a must-have. I love roses and I love the smell of them in my room. I usually take them with me at the venue and pass them out to the women in the crowd. I love the room to smell like vanillam so vanilla candles are also a must. But my main must have items no matter what are the towels, sanitizer, the humidifier, roses and candles.
DX: How are things coming along with your group Pretty Money?
Trina: Pretty Money is actually doing great. I’m just working with the girls, this is a different era and when you deal with women. We all know that we are emotional creatures. We have different attitudes, personalities, and egos. When I was coming in to the business, I was around all guys so now with my group they get to deal with me. It’s been fun they’re really amazing. They’re constantly in the studio; we’re working on releasing their first single this summer. I love to watch their performance they get a chance to open up for shows and it’s just exciting for them and myself.
DX: I know you’ve always been charitable, and you even have your own foundation. What compels you to continue to be a philanthropist?
Trina: I’m just a people-person, and every place has under privileged people who are constantly in need of help. There will always be people that are less fortunate. I’m such a girlie-girl and I always try and work with young girls who have been through something and now need an uplifting. That was the reason for me starting the Diamond Dolls Foundation, to provide some motivation for young women. The goal is to talk to girls and give them a positive outlet. I like to see what they’re going through or what they want to be when they grown up. I want to help them accomplish their goals and find out what inspires them.
So many people are just depressed and down now, or maybe they just don’t know how to believe in themselves anymore so I want to change that. For me, I know that I had a dream and I followed it and became successful and I feel that any other woman can do the same thing so I want to help others achieve their dreams now. My foundation is a non-profit organization that wants to help put people in a better situation. It makes me feel good to be a part of a cause. I just feel that it’s really important to help others.
DX: Let’s talk about the pictures that leaked of you. You obviously didn’t plan for that to happen, so at the point that you realized you had lost your phone, did it ever cross your mind that your pictures could be leaked and create media hysteria?
Trina: Actually, someone stole my phone at the [BET Hip-Hop Awards], and yes, I was thinking about what the outcome could be.
We actually stayed after the awards were over an extra two hours in search of my phone, while they cleaned up, but the phone was gone. Immediately, I began think that I have personal pictures on there that I wouldn’t want anyone to see. It was my personal phone and my personal pictures that were private. There was a moment of sadness as I thought to myself, “What if someone is actually nasty enough as a person to go and search through my phone, and put my picture on the Internet or do something crazy.” Then there was also I moment where I thought maybe it was just lost or got swept away to the trash when they were cleaning.
After months and months had passed, I felt relieved like, "Thank goodness that nobody had found it." Then here we go, five months later and look what happened. I was just devastated to see how it went down. All I could think was how cruel of a person that it had to be to do something like that. How awful and horrible of a person you must be for that. You’re just wack. Like you really don’t have anything better to do than that? I mean who purposely tries to set out to humiliate someone and hurt them like that for no good reason other than to try and bring someone else down. To me that was such a form of wackness. You’re just a bum.
DX: Once you were informed that the media had obtained these pictures and that they were circulating all over the Internet, what type of crisis management did you and your team have to pre plan in order to maneuver through that ordeal?
Trina: I mean I totally didn’t expect it because, like I said, it was five months later. I had got off a plane and go the email and all I could think was, “Oh boy.” It was like the devil trying to just steal away your joy. Like they really thought they were going to have something to hold over my head and stop me from getting hot? I just had a lot of great people around me and that helped to strengthen me and get through it. I knew I had to hold my head up and just move forward. I let the situation be turned over to the investigator because it was a criminal issue. You stole my phone, leaked pictures of me and then tried to extort money from me, and that was just taking it too far. I turned it over to the authorities and let them deal with it. I didn’t even want to be apart of it until you tell me that you have a suspect and were ready to prosecute.
Actually, it was my lawyer that handled things. He went to all of the websites and sent out cease-and-desist letters. So I let the attorneys and authorities take care of everything and I just stayed out of it.
DX: I know that everyone always wants to know who you’re spending quality time with are you dating anyone currently?
Trina: I’m not dating I’m in a very very happy relationship.