Trina uncovered…Simply AMAZIN’
Flashback to a 2010 interview with rap star, TRINA
[My interview with Trina was conducted over the phone in on February 12, 2010 and published in a once prestigious online media entertainment site. The interview was also featured on a blogspot page that I, unfortunately, never committed myself to use as a canvas for my writing. I'm hoping not to make the same mistake here. :) ]
______ THE INTERVIEW____
How do you define the rap career of an artist who has soared beyond social and industry standards, grinding sexiness into hardcore lyrics that has stretched, what many critics once wrote off to be a quick hit career, into a decade long success story? If by chance you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard of the rap superstar Trina, you may call it fiction.
So what is the truth? Rather who is the bit size power punch of authenticity that, since 2000 when she first released her debut smash, “The Baddest Bitch” off the Slip-N-Slide Record label, continues to grace the stage with passion of craft, heart pounding intensity, and contentious lyrics? Those who have known her since childhood may refer to the artist by her birth name, Katrina L. Taylor. A massive amount of music lovers may call her Diamond Princess, after the title of her second album. But after speaking with Miami’s own Queen of Rap, I now simply call her, AMAZIN’.
Before our Feb 1, 2010 interview, having known much of nothing about Trina besides the skewed facts and fabrication of stories that have been previously printed in Hip-hop magazines and/or flashed over the music channels--- boldly painting Trina as this feisty and furious entity, known to fight with other woman rappers at the drop of a mic for lyrical respect, and notorious for dating sometimes unavailable men that most girls only dream about---the words that I would have used to describe the Luke Sky Walker’s protégée would have been less than flattering. Words like edgy, controversial, overly sexy, and just don’t give a flying f--k lyrical boss, would have been spat out of my mouth as soon as her name was mentioned. Yet, no more. No, now after spending a little time sharing thoughts, spreading ideas, and bonding theories with what most conceive as the Baddest Southern Rapper in the business, I have conjured up new words to describe her. Suddenly words like: intelligent soul sister, spiritual being, the business woman, the one to be respected on and off stage, comes to mind when I think of her.
I would suspect that my transfer of opinion of the rapper, started at hello. Perhaps, I expected that the woman’s voice that rang in my ear during our intimate interview would have abruptly shouted an obscene word or two, like “Hey Bitch,” to oddly be considered an appropriate greeting. How pleased am I to say that my expectation was blown to pieces, the moment I heard Trina’s voice resonate a certain peaceful tone. She spoke with such graciousness and kindness, as I heard a sweet surrender in her voice that encouraged my every question. During our moment, I received an open honesty from Trina that would never allow me to look at her the same way again.
So now my eyes are open, or rather Trina, for at least an hour and a half (the length of our interview), lifted the blinds that shielded her true life to the public, and revealed what most, myself included, had unknowingly overlook----the woman behind the artist. That woman, not seen flashed in the magazine’s pages or posing in the most unorthodox positions in a music video, but the very one that has got her thus far despite the odds.
Quite frankly, in our time together, Trina became an open book. And to my surprise, she painted no fairytale, rags to riches scenes between the covers. This was no book of mystery or suspense, but rather one of redemption. Like a page in a bestselling novel filled with a character’s up and down’s, I felt connected to her. Chapter by chapter, Trina let go and loosed her emotions that surrounded her music, the Industry, and her perspective on where her music career had been, where it is today, and where she sees it in the years beyond.
The following interview is this book that drew me in to such a character that I sense has been more than misunderstood, but misrepresented. The Baddest Bitch, Trina may have been in 2000. But as of the moment in time, she is simply, Amazin.
Chapter 1: Lasting Power
diisin: You’ve been in the business doing your thing since 2000. During that time, we’ve seen so many rappers come and go, for one reason or another. How do you explain being able to sustain such popularity in the music business that is predominately dominated by male artists, producers, and CEOs?
Trina: You know what, I just stay focused. It’s really hard because it is a male dominated industry, and women in the business don’t get the same advantages as the guys. So, definitely, I have to keep one foot forward and stay grounded with my team, and with the label. I work really hard, believe it or not; constantly performing. Year round I’m doing shows, all over the world; doing performances on tour, in and out of the states.
diisin: And that hard work has no doubt paid off.
Trina: It’s a constant grind to continue to put out the next album and to please the fans, and to hope that I’ve grown and everyone’s growing with me, and to hope that everyone loves the record and is on the same page. Because it’s such a gap in music now with the whole bootlegging thing, it’s really, really, hard. And I’m just strong and focused. I don’t let anything come in between that focus factor. It’s like a line. I don’t let anything come across that line, when it comes to me working on that next album or just working period. I’m just trying to stay on top of things, being with so many guys.
diisin: You mentioned not receiving some of the same advantages as some of the guys. I’m not even in the business and I know that to be true.
diisin: What are some of the advantages that you feel you missed out on being a female artist?
Trina: It’s a lot when it comes to basically touring and collaborating, and doing a bunch of different things. With females, it’s a lot different. It’s scarce, it’s random, and everyone doesn’t work together. Also people aren’t so quick to put up money for an all girl tour as opposed to an all guy tour, so a female artist, like myself, often fall short in that area. Plus, female tours are stereotyped. But it is a male dominated industry. Therefore, you have to continue to see what works for you to be able to stay afloat.
Chapter 2: Liberated
diisin: You mentioned your team—being grounded in your team. Well I’m fully aware that you write your lyrics. Yet, besides that, how involved are you in the making of each album, or how involved is the team?
Trina: Actually, Labels, in general, have always had plenty of control over their artist. The great thing about my latest album is that I was granted more opportunity to have more control of this project. This means a lot to me, because with the four previous albums there were a lot of things that I wanted to do, and lot of ways I wanted things to go, but it didn’t happen because of the Label. But this time, you know, I’m able to be in control and I get to choose who I want to direct my video, what I want to look like in the photo shoot, what I want the video to look like, what songs I want to go onto the album, and who I choose to work with. It’s really a blessing. It’s really a great feeling.
diisin: A touch of liberation as an artist in the music business, how rare is that?
Trina: I’m blessed. So many times, on previous albums, I wanted to do a record with various people, but it didn’t get done due to Label decisions. Just to now be able to have the control with this fifth album mean so much to me.
diisin: You spoke of control being transferred your way. What do you think has allowed you to get that freedom?
Trina: Uummmm. I would say it was the CEO, Ted Lucas. He actually believed in me. I mean, this is my fifth album, and what other female rappers have put out five albums? Lol
diisin: lol. [ I sincerely laugh along with Trina, thinking of her, and possibly only MC. Lyte, accomplishing such a feat. Wow! I say to myself, still hanging on her every word].
Trina: Just for him (still speaking of Lucas) to believe in me, and feel strong enough to think that I do stand in a class by myself, and for him to acknowledge my hard work and growth; realizing that I’m not the same person that I was when he signed me years ago, I think helped give my freedom in the business. With the freedom, I was able to show my growth on this album. I was able to become a woman and be in control of the things that I wanted to say. I was then able to have control over how I wanted things to look. It’s just a lot of things. Being able to have more control of this album means more to me because---(she drifts off as if in deep thought or as if she just grabbed hold of some strong emotion) many times the fans, and just people in general, don’t understand that the photo shoots or magazine covers are sometimes out of the artist’s control.
Trina: Many times photos are chosen, and you (referring to artists) don’t really get to see it forehand. Therefore, some people see it and may be thinking, ‘Wow! That’s not cute.’ Meanwhile you (still referring to artists) may be thinking the same thing. So it’s just a good feeling to actually be able to say, “No, I don’t want to do that, or I don’t feel comfortable doing this. I want to do this now.” That is a lot of power. It’s a lot of control, and I think it took a long time for me to get to this point. So, I’m taking advantage of it. lol.
Trina: Because I have this freedom, I’m able to be truly involved. On this fifth album, while I was recording, I was in the mixing room. I was into everything that was going on with the album. If there is something I didn’t like, I knew I had the freedom to turn it down. I was able to say to prominent producers that came to me with material that they thought was right for me, “Maybe that track can be put out for the streets in a mix tape, but it’s not the direction I want to go with this album.” I was able to tell those producers, who had a certain view of me, and therefore was convinced that the new best what would make a good Trina album, “No. thanks. I really don’t want to do this. I want to do something different. I’ve kind of grown out of that. I rather challenge myself.” With this album, I possess the ability to say these things, and I’m so happy to be in this position.
diisin: There is nothing like Freedom.
Trina: Nothing at all.
I take a moment and listen to the excitement pouring out of Trina’s mouth. She sounds like a teenager who just got the keys to her first car; ready to ride uphill. She’s an artist on the brink, bursting with passion for what does, excited to be given the opportunity to do it her way.
Chapter 3: The Deal
diisin: So many times women get taken advantage of. I don’t care if a woman is making a hit for a music company, or if just taking her car down to the local dealership to get it serviced. If she pulls up to a male generated business, and there’s a guy in charge, who feels that he knows more about that business than she does, more times than none he takes advantage of the situation. He most often works to pull the wool over eyes, and then usually attacks her where it hurts the most. Quite often, it’s her money that takes the hit. How are you on that? Do you feel as if you have been treated unfairly in the business?
Trina: Well, no. I can’t ever count to ever dollar. But I can’t assure you that there have been times that the situation didn’t work out in my favor. I can definitely say that. There are situations, where records have been done, and women artist have gotten paid for the beginning and not on the backend. Being a woman, I have been in that situation. But, speaking for myself, I now own 100% of my publishing. I make sure now when I do a record, everything is taking care of for me. Things have to work out in my benefit.
diisin: 100% of your publishing. WOW! You are really handling your business.
Trina: I think it’s just growing over the years and being able to dig into the business. Being able to go over the paper work, redo my contract, and a bunch of other stuff. The deals I make now are definitely different than before. I am in a different situation than when I first signed with the label years ago. It’s more in my favor.
diisin: That’s awesome!
Trina: Thanks. But I just think that any woman that comes into the business, whatever business it is, should know that the main important thing is making sure her paperwork is taken care of. And that woman needs to make sure that she is keeping up with that paperwork. Because so many times, you can’t rely on management, accountants, and/or financial advisors.
diisin: I hear that.
Trina: I feel that having all of them (money managers) is great. But for a woman’s own safety, she has to be in control. She has to know what’s going on. Woman can easily be persuaded or manipulated to do a lot of different things, and consequently lose out on a lot of stuff; whether it be money or anything she considers valuable. Unfortunately, I have been in that situation before.
diisin: But not now. Now, you seem in control of your own destiny. I think I admire you most for that. Trina, the business woman.
Chapter 4: The Past, Present, and Beyond
diisin: It has been well documented that Trick Daddy has played a vital role in the start of your career. How involved is he with your career today? Is he part of your team?
Trina: Uummmm, actually no. I haven’t worked with Trick in awhile on my projects. I have worked on his last two albums. When I worked on my last album, he and I were off schedule a lot. But we are still cool. I enjoyed working on his albums. But with this album, I was just thinking that this time it is really all about me---my growth. I went into the studio and I just turned into this person that I didn’t know existed.
diisin: You evolved.
Trina: Exactly. I was able to just do things that I thought was just so out of my range, which could be a little scary. But I figured, I’m going to do it anyway because who knows? I may love it!
diisin: Is that how your new single, Million Dollar Girl came about? This song featuring Keri Hilson and P. Diddy seems like representation of your growth.
Trina: yes. (sounding overjoyed) The single just brings on that great feeling of being able to challenge myself, and see that I can do something that I probably never thought about put forth the effort to explore the possibility in previous years.
diisin: How great is that?
Trina: It’s a great thing, as coming out as an artist alongside Trick was a great thing. Trick’s really great in the studio. He’s fun, energetic, and he’s a real creator. I mean, it’s amazing the way he comes up with different concepts. And just the chemistry between us---- a guy and a girl-- -on a record was great. But with me growing, as I look back, I’m just like, “Wow! Me and Trick was really crazy!”
Trina: And I go into the studio now, and I’m settled. I’m romantic. I’m sexy. It’s just all of these things now come out. It’s a great thing to know that I can stand on my own two feet. And the record label is like, ‘Who is this person?”
diisin: But I bet your management is loving every bit of the fresh new you.
Trina: lol. Oh, yeah.
diisin: Now that you have this freedom to seek out who you desire to collaborate with, and make it happen, in the days beyond the release of your new album, is there any one that you would like to work with?
diisin: Why her?
Trina: Because I just think she’s amazing. I just see her as, perhaps, the hardest worker in the business. And I just love her.
diisin: Well, your fans love you.
Trina: And I love them.
Chapter 5: The Wrap up
diisin: Honestly, Trina, speaking with you has made me a fan. Now, I can’t wait for the rest of your fans to be introduced to this “You.” Thank goodness, they don’t have to wait long since the date is set.
Trina: Yes, 3/30/2010.
diisin: Sounds, Amazin’