Photography by TJ Mack, Graphics by P
Being part of the TSS Crew definitely has its perks.
Apparently though, so does living back in Metro Detroit.
A few weeks ago, as I wrapped up a phone interview with the D’s boisterous bad guy, Trick Trick, I was cordially invited to his studio for a super-sneak preview of his sophomore spring release, The Villain.
“If you ever in Livonia, you can stop by the studio. I’ll show you the album,” he said about as nonchalant as Bill Gates giving a bum a couple of Benjamins.
After my jaw fell to the floor like a Warner Brothers cartoon, I replied, “No shit?” like the glaring industry outsider I am.
The following Wednesday, I found myself in Macomb County circling around unfamiliar I-96 service drives, searching for the so-called “studio.” Once my man riding shotty spotted the silver Benz CRK in the middle of a barren office park, we realized we had reached our destination. Best described as a hole in the wall hit-factory by design, Studio 1 caught your eye upon the crack of the car door.
After unsuccessfully buzzing ourselves in twice, the self-proclaimed Godfather himself strolled over & answered the door with open arms. Filled with local promotional posters, framed album covers from the studio’s inhabitants, empty Remy bottles and a few unmentionables, what one might call a lobby led us into the workroom. Walking in, we were treated to wrap-up of a post-production session for Slum Village member, Elzhi. As we previewed a few tracks featuring fellow D-Boys Black Milk and Royce Da 5’9, the studio owner/engineer, Tommy Gunz, gushed about how him and Elz could change the world if they so decided. He was definitely six feet serious.
When that was a wrap, and after Trick had added in an essential gun-cocking sound byte over his own Royce-assisted track, “All Around The World,” he ran it back in full to begin the listening session. Once he and Nickel finished flossing over the bass-heavy D-Funk, Christian Mathis reaffirmed everyone in the room of his ass-whooping alias with an anthem-like album opener, aptly titled, “Trick Trick.” On the testy “Who Want It,” Trick gets at who he calls, the ‘rap equivalent of High School Musical,’ while an absent Slim Shady returns to secure his back. “One more shot of Hypnotiq and I am not in control of my body/ turnin’ roboticâ€¦” he spit over the speakers, sounding able-bodied as ever.
As an elroy of good was passed around to everyone but the host, the man from the window emerged from the smoke in the form of Guilty Simpson, who rapped along side Trick and Marvwon on the Whodini-sampled, “Can’t Fuck With My City.” His timing couldn’t have been better.
When his current single “Let’s Work” came on, Trick wholeheartedly gushed about how excited he gets when he hears it get spins on Detroit radio. Not so much for the accord, though, but because of the positive reception he’s been gotten from deviant fans about the motivational record. During “Hold On,” an atypical Dr. Dre production, Trick was literally moved by his own touching verbal intricacies as he rapped along with his mouth and hands. Next was “Follow Me which is commendably almost the exact opposite of the song he played before. Over a beat that was noticeably once Busta Rhymes,’ Trick impresses as he tells a story speaking entirely in tongues, proving catchy and thought provoking at the same time.
As the Run DMC sampled-drums hit on the monumental track, “Together Forever,” Tommy hastily proclaimed it the “best song ever.” With eight verses from four Motown-bred emcees (Trick, Esham, Kid Rock and the late Proof), each rapper supplies their own unique taste of Detroit to the track. Another track with local love is the rock-heavy ode to unstable females, “Crazy,” which Trick co-produced with Eminem and Jeff Bass. From there, Trick took us from the “Motown To Mobile,” with the Rich Boy-assisted, “26’s.” When I heard the somewhat clichÃ© title, I was a little hesitant, but the breezy chorus and concept turned it into one of my personal favorites. “Oh, we doin’ a video,” Trick promised.
From the beginning, Trick had noted that he was purposely saving the best for lastâ€¦.and he was right. “Let It Go,” a motivational masterpiece in which Trick himself claimed to be the crown jewel of his catalogue, was the perfect song to cap off The Villain listening session. Over a soulful backdrop, he opens with a transcription of the words he says God spoke to him directly, and caps off his second album with a track other artists could only dream of making. “This is gonna be a big track, man,” he said to me frankly, like he could see into the future. However he meant it, money or moved souls, this is the song that will prove to all naysayers that Trick Trick is much more than the arm-breaking rapper from The Murder Mitten.
And that, with all hometown bias aside, is the main reason Detroit’s Bad Guy should be on your most anticipated list for ’08. In a system bent on moving your body, Trick Trick makes music that moves your soul. With tracks that will make you scrap, tear-up, get off the couch, or simply leave your brain racked, The Villain covers all grounds and will definitely worth the ticket when it drops this spring.
Given the circumstances, however, I can’t promise you’ll enjoy at much as I did.