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Famous Like Me > Composer > T > Tricky

Profile of Tricky on Famous Like Me

Name: Tricky  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 27th January 1968
Place of Birth: Knowle West, Bristol, England, UK
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
This article is about the English rapper. See Christopher 'Tricky' Stewart for the American rapper/producer.
Adrian Thaws: AKA - "Tricky"

Adrian Thaws (born January 27, 1968), better known as Tricky, is an English rapper and musician important in the trip hop and British music scene (despite loathing the "trip hop" tag). He is noted for a whispering lyrical style that is half-rapped, half-sung. As a producer and a musician he is noted for having an aversion to perfection preferring to build up a dark, rich and layered sound. Culturally, Tricky bridges white and black Britain particularly in his fusion of rock and hip-hop, high art and pop culture.

He was born in Bristol, England. As of 2003, he was based in New York.

Tricky was a member of the influential 80s Bristol sound system The Wild Bunch and contributed to the first two Massive Attack albums. As a member of the Wild Bunch he used the moniker "Tricky Kid" (a reference to his unreliable behaviour) but this was shortened to simply "Tricky" when a member of Massive Attack.

He left Massive Attack to release his debut album Maxinquaye (named after his late mother "Maxine Quaye", allegedly reggae/soul singer Finley Quaye's half-sister). The album was a massive success and Tricky was catapulted to international fame, something he was notably uncomfortable with.

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 song appear on both albums although only the Massive Attack versions were released as singles.

Tricky found it difficult to cope with the huge success of Maxinquaye and he subsequently eschewed the laidback soul sound of the first album to create an increasingly edgy and aggressive punk tinged music.

By the time Pre-Millennium Tension was released Tricky was increasingly irritated with the press, particularly articles written in The Face magazine. The Face had been an early champion of Maxinquaye but saw Tricky as more a duo than a solo project. His relationship with singer Martina Topley-Bird with whom he had a child at roughly the same time fell apart professionally and personally.

He has also been concerned with racial stereotyping of the media. In the documentary Naked & Famous, he explains how photographers want him to frown angrily in photos, because that's how black artists are marketed. He points to a recent cover of The Big Issue, where he has a more ambiguous, confused look on his face, as being more how he feels. In the song Tricky Kid off Pre-Millennium Tension, he writes "As long as you're humble/Let you be the king of jungle", indicating that all black music is still judged as African/jungle/savage music, and he can't transcend this to be seen as a more complex artist as like white musicians routinely are.

The documentary Naked & Famous (itself a lyric from Tricky Kid - "Everybody wants to be me/Everybody wants to be naked & famous) shows the history of music and madness in his family, as well as many moments such as when Tricky goes to visit his old school, but has to leave a music room when a white, middle-aged teacher starts rapping, with the musical backing of school-children. The teacher raps about "keeping it real", but Tricky calls him "gross".

Tricky has also acted in various films. He appeared in a significant supporting role in the 1997 Luc Besson film The Fifth Element, playing the unnamed right-hand man to evil businessman Mr. Zorg. He reportedly put off actor Gary Oldman because, while he had his back to the camera, he was eating a Twix bar, to Oldman's anger ("He's facking eatin' a Twix!") . He also appears briefly in the 2004 Olivier Assayas film Clean, playing himself, and had a role in the video for "Parabol/Parabola" by Tool.


  • Ambersunshower
  • Björk
  • Chesney Hawkes
  • DJ Muggs
  • Ed Kowalczyk of Live
  • Garbage (This collaboration gave Tricky his one Top 10 hit of his career)
  • Goldfrapp
  • Grease
  • Hawkman
  • Martina Topley-Bird
  • Neneh Cherry
  • PJ Harvey
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  • The Baby Namboos
  • Whale

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Tricky