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Do It: Tricky at the Roxy

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Fair or unfair, comparable musical tastes are one of the first tests deciding if a relationship is going to evolve past the morning. An annoying sense of anxiety flairs up every time the question is asked. Particularly, if you have eclectic tastes. Particularly, if the asker is some sort of unofficial PhD holder of a particular genre. In this case the “ah everything” is judged as the most infamous cop-out. A tell-tell sign the person either can’t verbalize thoughts, lacks passion, or secretly only listens to the top 100. Musical tastes are the first look into someone’s personality.

So a few years ago I didn’t quite know how to take it when a 20-something Californian mindfully threw in the ole’ “I listen solely to trip-hop,” and then consciously paused, gauging my reaction. Did my face give away the complete blank going on in my head?

I froze. I didn’t know what trip-hop was. I tried to go along with it. Maybe the conversation would just move onto another subject? No such luck.
“Do you know any trip-hop artists? Do you know what trip-hop is?” he asked me interrogatingly.

About this time I realized he was one of those, self-righteous, music nerds. “No! Okay I don’t know what trip-hop is! Please enlighten me.” Which he graciously did. Informing me how it was essentially music of the gods or God’s gift to us humans, the most intellectual, ground-breaking, creative music to ever be made. I left the night, hating him, and equally resentful and intrigued by this trip-hop.

Despite my initial preconception that trip-hop had to be a pretentious, musical experimentation, I was hooked by one particular artist’s haunting voice.

In the end a newfound love for Tricky grew out of my initial hate for this Californian. Without the latter I wouldn’t have something to look forward to on Monday.

That something is the coming of UK rapper and producer, Tricky. The 39-year-old is finally on tour again in support of his long-awaited album 8th album the, Knowle West Boy, which was released this summer.

Die-hard Tricky fans or intrigued newcomers should be on equal footing at the show, as his latest project reveals a side formerly unseen of the rapper. His latest album, named after the part of Bristol from which he hails, is his most personal and focuses on England’s class system that cripples certain groups.

“It’s a ‘real’ area, people are real there and I have to try and keep some Knowle West in me… it grounds me I think,” Tricky recently told ITM.

What isn’t real to Tricky are the labels put on himself and his music. He’s a ground-breaker. He mixes Elvis Costello. And DMX. He collaborates with Bjork. And he covers Kylie Minogue.

It is this disdain for labels that helps partially explain Tricky’s rollercoaster ride through the music industry. Ten years ago, Tricky was a household name. The world fell in love hard and fast for what the media labeled “trip-hop,” so-called because one journalist said the musicians sounded like they were tripping on music. Artists labeled under this genre staunchly rejected the label. The majority of these artists hailed from Bristol, and the genre also became known as the Bristol Sound. Essentially, it was a fusion of electronica and hip-hop that came out of these two scenes in England.

Tricky, who would be labeled as the poster-child of the genre, made his break by rapping on Massive Attack’s 1991 album. Four years later, he released his debut album, Maxinquaye, named after his mother who committed suicide when he was just a kid.

Known for his breathy vocals and dark, spaced-out beats, Tricky made the public go crazy for him. A decade ago, he had a debut album at #2 on the UK charts. He had people speculating about a possible fling between himself and Bjork. And then he went underground. His follow-up albums became increasingly unattainable to the public. Infamously difficult, Tricky, as some say, became irritated by his quick rise to fame, became jaded by the music business. Some simply chalk it up to a shift in listener’s taste.

It is this unknown that makes Tricky somewhat of an enigma, and all the more appealing. He is one of those rare artists who can say they created something wholly original. And when it was overplayed, he walked away, onto the next undiscovered genre. We know he has breathy vocals, experimental beats, thoughtful lyrics, and an enormous appetite for growth. What we don’t know is what our senses will be met with on Monday night. This is one performance that can’t simply be YouTubed later.

Tricky performs at Roxy at 19:30 on Monday, November 24th. Ticket cost ranges from CZK 650-750.

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