Trick Trick: Eminem's Man In Detroit.
In a city made powerful by its auto industry, there exists an air of weakness. In a city made famous for its soul, there exists an air of emptiness. Detroit has seen better days. Economically, the glory days of the motor capital are gone. Socially, Detroit is considered a far cry from hipper, younger cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and D.C. The once great city has been through mayoral scandals, pro sports debacles, and a mass exodus of downtown businesses. And yet the city seems determined to thrive. Unshaken by constant media onslaught and negative public opinion surrounding its people, Detroit stands poised for stardom.
The same can be said about rapper/producer/actor/director/label president Christian Mathis, better known in The D as Trick Trick.
Trick Trick is in a good mood today. Ive never met him before, but judging by his calm, pensive demeanor and his casual, polite, tone its not hard to see that things are going very, very well in Trick-ville. Im fashionably late, and although Im obviously tampering with a very tight schedule, he patiently ushers me into a plush, paradise of a studio. Recording equipment, keyboards, and mixers fill the newly carpeted room. Huge flat screen monitors confuse the otherwise technologically advanced scene with rainforest screensavers. He takes a call, apologizes (unnecessarily), and reclines in an executive chair in the center of it all. He has the look of a man at home.
HHDX: So youve been holding the D down for a minute. Whats the local hip hop scene looking like right now?
Trick Trick: Its straight. As far as new artists, theres a million of them. As far as new good artists that I recognize, its a few. It aint no whole bunch a lot of people aint cut out for this shit. Um, its looking good though, you got a lot of people around here that are attempting to take it to a major label (and should be on a major label) and should be at a major point but you know its just muthafuckas aint really together with recognizing Detroit just yet, its gonna take another muthafucka like myself to come out here and kick some ass for them to pay some attention. Its lookin good.
HHDX: What is peoples image of Detroit? What do they expect?
TT: I think they look at the D like they would expect the best, because right now, to me, Eminem is the best. To me. Lyrically, hes untouchable. I dont know not one person can fuck with him. So I think they would expect the best to come from Detroit, since the best came from Detroit.
HHDX: Where do you fit in, in that image?
TT: I think its just a point of mepretty much taking a stand and showing the world. You know, the world like a bad guy. It aint no secret: Im him. But they dont like a bad guy thats not reallywhere the label creates a bad guy, they want a real bad guy. Theres a lot of bad guys in this game, but there aint many bad guys that are capable of intertwining that talent as artist and producer and at the same time maintaining that street credibility and still connected with the streets; as opposed to blowin up and being too good to be around certain muthafuckas. Of course, Im not gonna do a drive-by today, but that dont mean I cant have one done. When you get to this point, its a lot of shit you dont do that you supposed to do, you put in your work you come out of that shit. You live off your credibility. The world would expect that from a person, somebody that has done the things that they talk about, that know what they talkin about. And thats an all around American bad guy. (Laughs) I think they appreciate that more; as opposed to what theyre used to seein in the music industry: clay figuring muthafuckas into bad guys.
Bad guy? Calling Trick Trick a bad guy is like calling Oprah rich. The infamous Trick Daddy beat down stands in hip hop lore as one of the most notorious altercations involving rival entourages ever.
It went like this. A couple of years back, Trick Trick was promoting an album down in Miami. Trick Daddy was throwing a birthday party, and Trick Trick was planning on stopping through. Apparently Trick Daddy was not fond of the similarity in their names, and despite warnings from Trick Daddys publicist, Trick Trick did show at the party, where he was (according to him) apparently threatened by members of Trick Daddys camp.
Fast forward a couple of months, when Trick Daddy made a trip to Detroit. During an o-stage performance at a club, Trick Daddy allegedly made several anti- Trick Trick comments. Unfortunately, Trick Trick was waiting for him. Graphic home video footage shows Trick Daddy being rushed by 20-30 men, who proceeded to beat down Trick Daddy live and in person. The incident was later summed up by Trick Trick: He aint get it like he shoulda got it, but he got it.
And then theres the highly publicized altercation involving members of Trick Tricks squad and D-Block, specifically Styles-P. I dont have time to really go into it here, but let me just say that Trick Trick has established a reputation for having an extremely low tolerance for disrespect.
HHDX: So lets talk about the industry. In the past youve been critical of corporate radio. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
TT: Man I just dont like the fact that its a mixture, its a mixed game with this radio shit. I wont necessarily blame it on corporate, but then again I dont know. So I would say you know I feel like its pretty much at this point the artists duty and the labels duty to develop a real serious one-on-one relationship with the program and music directors and the mixers because when you on the outside looking in you dont know what the fuck is really going on with the people handling that shit. Radio stations like here, Detroit radio is more subject to accept a southern record, as opposed to a Detroit record. I hate the L word and the L word is local... so a record from an artist from Detroit, usually won't get play but stations like WJLB have always supported me in everything that I have always done...that's why I feel like they are my home. The only way that I am able to work with other stations and have the relationships that I have is because I'm a business man... Many stations are more quick to accept a southern record and blow the southern record. But then when you go to Atlanta thats all you here is southern records, Atlanta records mainly. You might here a little Dave, David Banner...my nigga. And you might hear something from New Orleans here and there but its mainly Atlanta records. I dont have a problem with that at all. Thats where the mutherfuckas come from; thats where they at; thats where the radio stations should be paying their respect and showing the love to muthafuckas where they from. As well as blending in your 50 Cent, and your new R&B artists and your Juelz Santana and the other people from other labels, the other artists, you blend it in. You make a playlist as opposed to play what you wanna play type shit. I dont know much about the payola game cause I aint never paid a mafucker to play my record, and I aint gonna do it.
HHDX: That brings us to the music. Whats it like working with Trick Trick in the studio?
TT: With my artists, Im tough on my artists. Im they big brother when the mic is off. When the mic come on and they gotta go in there, Im on they head. Get yo muthafuckin shit together and do the shit right. Quit playin. As far as production goes Im always open to ideas from artists. Open to ideas from other producers. I just started working with other producers at the end of last year: Denon Porter, Jazzy Pha, Eminem and DJ Thriller. I allow the people Im working with to be creative, but when it come down to the point where we gotta have a finished product we gotta bite down and that goes even for big name producers. Like Lil John and me gotta lil problem going on right now. Lil Jon remixed one of my songs and he sent me some bullshit. I told him This some bullshit and I dont want it. You can take this track back wherever you got it from, one of your interns did it. Tell them niggas to sell it someone else because I aint gon use it. And he said aw damn nigga it aint mixed. Mixed mylet me tell you something my little nephews they 13 and 11, and they got this big fuckin casio keyboardthey can make some shit that if you mix it, you damn sure gone get a grammy. So dont get me some shit about a mix its some sorry fuckin production dog. Hes a lil upset, I dont give a fuck. I dont like the shit. I dont give a fuck what your name is, dammit. Fuck Lil Jon.
HHDX: How does your talent as a producer help you as an artist?
TT: It helps out a lot. As a producer you should be able to knowlike doing a hook on a song, you know you talk in a key, a-flat, b-sharp whatever the fuck. And you gotta be able to match up and make sure that your bells aint out of tune with your bass. It help out a lot man, cause I heard some sloppy ass production like what I was talking about with Lil Jon did that shit to mesent me that bullshit. I heard some sloppy-ass production before where cats think that just because they can learn how to sequence instruments together they can produce beats. That aint the case, you gotta be able to put that mufucker together right. So it help out a lot. Me being an artist sometime I make a beat thats so sweet I know I wouldnt even fit on. That upsets the shit outta me but that means I gotta go call Em and tell Marshall here I got this beat for you or call Obie or somebody else or send it out to 50 or Busta Rhymes or send the beats out to them folk. It help out a lot because youre critical about doing something instead of just putting together anything.
HHDX: Theres already a pretty big buzz out there about your next album. What are you trying to accomplish with the new project?
TT: My new project, we still looking for placement right now. Actually its a fight between Interscope and J. Prince at Rap-A-Lot. As far as the album is concerned, me and Em are working on a new single called Welcome to Detroit. The album is phenomenal. I wrote a lot the stuff in jail, you know I was fighting the murder, so its all real. I got special guestsbut it aint even about the guest appearances and they names. Its about the work they did. They did an excellent job. Denon Porter, we got 2 songs together, Jazzy Pha put his fat ass into the beat that we did together, he actually got on it and did a verse, a 12. All my songs have feeling to them emotionally. Its an album that I can honestly say, because Ive been working on this album for over a year, you can put this album in and not have to skip a song. Itll have you to one point, then gradually bring you to another, different emotions, just coming from a real nigga, a real man. Im not the only person to go through the shit I go through, some people just dont know how to express themselves. Its a real big album. I recorded the album with the focus of making each song a single. A couple of songs came out not as singles because of the content. I have a song called M-1 that breaks down my last murder trial, the shit that happened how the police tried to frame me. We filmed a full length feature film, titled The People Vs. that will be given away with the CD. Most people put out a DVD and sit and talk all day in front of the camera and sit and talk all day and try to explain shit. And people listen, you know, but I would rather give them a visual of what Im talking about with the basis of this album about the police and how crooked they is. I have a real serious vendetta against all authority but I mainly have a big fucking problem with the police. And they got a problem with me, so I feel like Ima expose that shit.
HHDX: Wouldnt be a rap interview if I didnt ask you about beef. What does beef mean to a guy like you?
TT: To me dog, beef means we bout to go all the way with it. We gon go to war. Beef, a problem and a situation are three different things. A situation is just something that we could probably just work out over the fuckin phone. A problem is something that we need to get together and talk about and figure out where we gon go from here. Beef is when I pull out this muthafucking .50 cal and this MP-5 and go round up me a couple of die hard mafuckin niggas and tell em to hit. Thats what beef is. They got this shit all mufuckin wrong. Beef is when you kill back and fucking forth and you ready to god damn die. Thats what beef is. Is beef worth it? Hell fuck naw. But sometimes you gotta take it to that extent so you wont lose cause its a lotta mufuckers out here that will straight up beef with yo ass. But its a whole bunch of mufuckers that dont even know what the fuck beef is. Think you gon get on a mufuckin record and pop all the bullshit disrespectful shit about me. When I see you my first inclination is to smash yo ass if you dont instantly cop a plea about yo god damn problem. I dont start beef, I finish it. Beef and good for this business, Ill tell you that much. This business aint made for that shit.
There it is. All the talk about beef had Trick Trick fired up. I felt like I should lighten things up for a sec, you know, end on a positive note. Maybe ask some dumb question about his musical influences or something like that. And then it hit me.
HHDX: I see youre rockin the fresh Pistons cap. Did you think Detroit could have made it this far?
We talked basketball for a sec, and the mood lightened up a bit. And then, as if sensing a golden opportunity, he said:
Me, I could not deal with us losing to Miami.
Of course, the Pistons did defeat Shaquille ONeal and the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference Championship, though after 7 games they couldn't make it past the Spurs...But somehow I dont think Trick was talking about basketball.