The year was 1998. While New Orleans, Houston and Atlanta pretty much monopolized the conversation of Southern Hip Hop’s eventual rise to dominance, Miami seemed to be stuck in an era of 2 Live Crew and the over-the-top sexual exploits of Luther Campbell. Then came Trick Daddy’s “Nann” record. The Liberty City, Florida native came with the same ridiculously crass rhymes many remembered from his guest appearance on Campbell’s “Scarred” but this time, he brought a sassy-mouthed Katrina Laverne Taylor who was just as lyrically audacious. Of course, she would be known to simply as Trina.
A few years later, she dropped her Atlantic/Slip-N-Slide debut Da Baddest B***h. Though the title track failed to gain traction, “Pull Over” established a foothold during a four-week stint on Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100” chart. Then there was the accompanying video, which to this day makes today’s derrière-inspired videos look sort-of tame by comparison. Remember the Sisqo parody?
Her sophomore follow up Diamond Princess saw Trina graduate to the big leagues with high profile features ranging from Ludacris to Missy Elliot while also displaying her ability to take risks, as Rick Ross and a 10-year-old Brianna Perry both made their first appearance on the 2002 release. Trina would soon enough gain her first Billboard Top 20 hit with the Kelly Rowland assisted “Here We Go” from 2005’s Glamorest Life. Subsequent releases Still Da Baddest and Amazin’ had Trina establish herself as a fairly successful indie artist without Atlantic before also leaving her first home Slip-N-Slide.
Four years since the release of Amazin’, Trina talked about her upcoming sixth album, controversy regarding its first single “Fuck Love” and being a proactive champion of female emcees.
Trina Addresses Rumors Of “Fuck Love” Being Autobiographical
HipHopDX: Earlier this month you dropped “Fuck Love” featuring Tory Lanez. Tory has been building a steady buzz since Sincerely Tory a few years ago. What went into your decision to have him on your album’s first single?
Trina: Oh, wow! You know what? I was in the studio just starting work on my sixth album, and I had a bunch of producers come in with different beats and sounds. We were just playing back and forth with some stuff, and [Tory Lanez] came in with some other guys who I guess were producers, and they played a bunch of stuff for me. We cut a bunch of tracks, and he just brought a different sound. I liked a lot of his music before I was really familiar with him, and when he came to the studio to play those tracks, I was like, “Wow, this kid is talented.” I liked the vibe and we started working from there.
DX: We’ll leave the obvious questions everyone wants to know alone, but to set the record straight, what influenced “Fuck Love?”
Trina: It’s just one of those records as a female after being in certain situations. This was me speaking my mind. I’m not anti-love. I love, love. It’s one of those moments everyone has in their life where they may actually have said, “F Love.” That could be problems in a romantic relationship or friendship or whatever. It’s good or bad, and after a while you’re not taking it. You tell yourself, “I’m tired, and I refuse to settle. F it and F you too,” then keep it moving.
DX: Around the time “Fuck Love” was released, Big Sean dropped “I Don’t F**k With You,” which many alluded to his previous romantic relationship. Do you have a problem with people making those allusions to your personal life or is that expected?
Trina: I don’t really care about the assumptions, but I think it’s a little annoying because if you’re in any type of situation and you come out with records like that, people always figure you’re targeting the ex, bitter or totally not what the record is all about. I kind of went through something a little similar when I did “Single Again.” Everyone wanted to know if I was still in a relationship along with the whole back and forth thing, so it’s expected, but kind-of goes a little too far sometimes. Some people really like to make it bigger than what it really is. The “Fuck Love” record was just one of the records in which I was in the studio, Tory did the hook and I loved it. As I was writing the record, it put me in the mindframe of different situations, the mood I was in and just how in a relationship I was giving 150% to someone who wasn’t doing the same. If I don’t feel like I’m getting the same, I’m definitely not sticking around. I’m not going to be your doormat or anything. I’d rather you go your way and I go my way. With the second verse, it’s more vulnerable because it’s basically saying, “I’m trying to make you get it right, but you’re not getting it. And regardless of whatever, I’m still right here for the nightcap, to make this work and make you understand not to play yourself.” I talk slick because I have a slick mouth, and I tell stories how it is. When I feel like speaking my mind, I do it. It’s kind-of like a “Here We Go” to me. That’s how it comes out.
Why Trina Feels Female Emcees Don’t Get Equal Opportunities
DX: Do you think the nature of being a female emcee makes being in a romantic relationship unfairly difficult?
Trina: Oh yeah, it definitely is but it comes with the territory. I don’t get so blown up about it. Women are always targeted. Asking me who I’m talking about or what this lyric is alluding to, I don’t think they go after guys like that. I expect it because it’s been done to me several times.
DX: Where does “Fuck Love” set you up for the album?
Trina: The album is just really energetic, vulnerable, feisty and raw. It’s a lot of unpredictable songs I’m creating because I tried a lot of things with the sound. I’m playing around with more melodic songs that are more catchy, and I think that’s the fun part about this album because I don’t have a set direction. I’m just able to be free and work with different producers. It’s all about sound, and the producers bringing me things that I’ve never really done before. I’m always going to stay true to myself, but I just want to expand a bit and do different stuff. This is my sixth album, so I’ve done everything from the emotional records, cursing you out, saying I love you and everything. I just wanted to do something more challenging.
DX: Your sixth album should technically tie you with Missy Elliot for most albums released by a female emcee. Why doesn’t Hip Hop see a lot of women with careers as long as their male counterparts?
Trina: You know what? I don’t know, and it’s one of those things that it would be so much doper if women were able to release their music and get the same credibility as guys because realistically, the females are way more doper. I feel that we do more work and are more entertaining on stage when performing. It’s just one of those things where women are emotional creatures, catty and don’t want to work with each other. When it’s guys, they’ll work with each other even if they don’t like each other. They don’t care; they’re are going to do business and keep it moving. This is a 24-hour job, not a nine-to-five. It’s one of those things where you have to stay fighting for regardless of how you feel, because it’s already a decrease in album sales with people not supporting music like they use to due to the Internet, downloading and the whole mixtape genre. When it comes to the newer females, they’re not getting much exposure, the chance or the budgets to actually go to the studio and put out an album. The opportunities aren’t there like they use to. Now with this new generation of girls, you have to keep moving and not let anything stop you.
DX: Earlier this year, you released the Incredible EP which included “Vampire” featuring Gucci Mane. Where did that collaboration come from and did you had time to speak with him before or after his sentencing?
Trina: I haven’t spoken with him. I really don’t know him personally in that regard. I did a photo shoot with him some time before. He’s an amazing artist and great person…not too big on his personal life or his situation. Of course, I wish him the best and to be free so he can get back to making music. He just reached out to me to do this record. He’s from the South so a lot of my team like him and thought the record was dope, so I didn’t have a problem getting on the track.
DX: One of my favorite albums from you is Diamond Princess which turned 11 last month. That album included the “Kandi” track featuring a then 10-year-old Brianna Perry. Talk about the making of that track and watching her grow to star of “Sisterhood of Hip Hop.” Have you had time to watch the show?
Trina: She’s such a doll. That’s like my little baby. Before the album, I’ve been knowing Brianna since she was seven or eight-years-old. When I was first introduced to her, she came to see me and she just gave me a hug that was so tight. I was like, “So I hear you’re this dope little girl, you can spit, you have confidence and you’re not afraid.” She started rhyming and rhyming and rhyming. My eyes were so big, and I was just amazed. I told myself, “This girl is going to go so far because she’s just so fearless.” She believed in herself, and she’s so sweet. She’s been the same way since I’ve known her, and honestly looking at her now, I’m just getting adjusted to seeing the adult, sexy and lady side of her because I still look at her as a little baby. It’s such an adjustment to see her in the grown-up world. I’m use to protecting her and looking at her as this little angel. I’m so happy for her; she’s dope and works really hard. The one thing I love about her is that she’s extremely humble, and that hasn’t changed. She’s always put in the work, and she’s just positive. It’s this confidence where she comes off as, “I got this, and I can do whatever I want.” [That goes] rfom graduating high school to graduating from college to doing her career and getting on TV; the list goes on and on. She’s just A-plus amazing.
DX: Have you had time to watch the show?
Trina: Yes, I have. I watch some of [Sisterhood Of Hip Hop], but haven’t had a chance to watch all of the episodes. I’m either flying or not able to catch it. What I have caught, it was really good. I love the whole idea of the show and the open window it gives to them to really be seen and heard. Displaying their records, doing videos, working in the studio together and just the unity makes everything really dope. It’s a very positive thing. I like it.
Trina Revisits Honoring Nicki Minaj & Details Their Dynamic
DX: Around this time last year, you paid homage to Nicki Minaj and even performed “Moment For Life” at the 2013 BMI Awards. The reaction was pretty polarizing as some thought of it as a positive moment, while some felt it was too soon. As a supporter of Nicki going as far back as the “Dang A Lang” track from Amazin’, discuss the evolution of your relationship with her if you can.
Trina: It’s pretty good. You know I’ve known Nicki as soon as she came out, and we spoke on the phone a lot. We would always talk about things and just the whole dealing with everything that comes with the industry from the good to the bad. She was always firm, strong and always had this mindset of, “I’m just going to do everything I can to be so big. I’m going to go against the odds and the masses.” They tell her she can’t, and she’s going to do it. From where she came from to where she is now, she deserves that because she was fearless and definitely knew in her mind that she wasn’t going to stop or let anything stop her.
The BMI Awards last year was amazing. I’m signed to BMI, and it was tribute. I’m a dedicated friend and fan of the whole Cash Money family. It was one of those things where they were getting honored and Nicki was the only female getting honored. It was a thing to where you had all these guys performing for other guys and [they said], “We need you to come and represent for her.”
I was kind-of terrified because I didn’t want to mess up the words or anything. Everyone has had that “Moment For Life” where you want to celebrate whether it’s a graduation, job promotion, marriage or baby. To me, it was one of those things to where I was so nervous but once I did it and saw Nicki singing along with Wayne, it was a beautiful moment. A lot of people were up and down about it, but I’m just a solid and secure person that I can do anything I want and there’s no complex. If you show me love, I’m going to most definitely show you love. That’s exactly how that moment was.
DX: Though female emcees with as much notoriety as you is rare, you’ve always embraced up-and-coming females. How has that added to your legacy as a female in Hip Hop?
Trina: I just think it’s a good thing. I think that when you think about women in Hip Hop, it’s kind of like a tight hand for us, so now that there are new artists and a new generation of ladies. I didn’t even realize it was so many females now. Now I’m thinking like, “Wow, there needs to be a bigger platform for women to do their thing.” My favorite moment in Hip Hop in general was always Lil’ Kim’s “Ladies Night.” It was Kim, Missy, Left-Eye, and Angie Martinez. I remember when I got into the game, I told myself I wanted to do that. I’ve always had that mindset, and I just love working with other females. I feel like we’re fly, beautiful and just great. That’s always how I’ve thought. Just working with other females, I’ve never had any problems or anything. It’s always been a pleasure. I just think that everybody should have that same type of feeling because I feel that women could be way bigger and so much could happen if that unity was there.
DX:Your debut album Da Baddest B***h turns 14 this year. One of my favorite singles coming into puberty in seventh grade was “Pull Over.” Seeing as to now we’re in this age of the “booty,” what’s your opinion of the trend that you’ve been representing since the beginning of your career?
Trina: To me, I don’t really emphasize so much on it because it’s just like a new thing to everybody else. But when I think back to “Pull Over,” that was so long ago, and to me it was just a Miami thing. All of my friends have butts and nice bodies, so it’s one of those things to where it was normal. It just grew and then everyone has adjusted to that. In today’s society, everything is the butt. It’s great. If you have a nice booty and nice body or if you don’t and want to get it however which way you want, then it’s amazing. It’s all about the confidence you have within yourself. I definitely feel like I am at the start of that because I brought in the whole booty thing from “Pull Over,” and it’s one of those things to where now, it’s all about the butt. It’s great because when I did that record, it was kind of risqué, but now it’s cool.
DX: Speaking of Da Baddest B***h, talk about the mind frame you were in during the recording process. What was the lead-up like to the release from your perspective?
Trina: It was one of those things to where it happened so fast. It’s not like now in which I’m so in control and I have time to make thought out decisions. At that time, I was fresh off the “Nann” record with Trick [Daddy]. I believe it was a year-and-a-half or two years after that record. In that time frame, I had gathered myself together and was trying to figure out what I was going to do for my album. As soon as I got off the road, every chance I got, I was in the studio. In the process of making of the record; the record label is all guys, and guys just wanted everything to be sexy. My goal was to make a sexy record that was also talking that talk, letting ladies know that they didn’t have to take anything from no man and that they could be independent. I wanted ladies to be able to take care of themselves and not have to depend on no man. I remember recording records and being in the mind frame of how I lived. It was all about making money as a female, not depending on a guy or anyone else, and growing to be an independent woman as a young girl. That meant the slick talking, being the crème de la crème and wanting women to step their game up. A lot of women are insecure. There are so many insecure women, and I felt like during the process of that album, I wanted to light a fuse into women to make them feel like they could be like Wonder Woman. They could be fearless and they didn’t have to take any mess. For me, it was so fast. I was in the studio recording making records and before you know it, the album was out in 2000. We were moving so fast because the record with Trick was still blazing out of control, and we had no time to slow down. I was signed to Atlantic, and they were on my back everyday about the album. It was one of those things in which we did it and turned it in. When it was finished, I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe I have a complete full album that’s about to come out in stores.”
DX: Something the documentary mentioned was how much Atlanta’s movement was influenced by Miami. What was it like to see Atlanta’s rise from the perspective of someone growing up in Miami during that time?
Trina: I think Atlanta is southern and Miami is the South, but people like Miami because it’s a party city. It seems like Miami is a vacation spot. To me it’s a vacation everyday. I looked at that as amazing because the original hustlers—2 Live Crew Era with Luke and everything about Miami back in the day—everyone wanted that lifestyle. I think that was very effective to most cities. Atlanta was just one city influenced, because when I go there, it’s like a second home away from Miami. I guess what that documentary was implementing was dope and shows that Miami has a great impact.
Trina Explains Why She Doesn’t Need A Major Label Anymore
DX: You mentioned during an interview with 106&Park that you have a fragrance in the works. Many artists and celebrities have gone this route. Explain what actually goes into the process of creating a fragrance.
Trina: As a woman, I love to smell great, and I love perfume, so that’s one of my loves outside of music. This is actually my second fragrance, and the amazing thing is that you get to be involved with the smell, scent and other aspects. It’s a creative process. You have a certain type of intuition of what you want to smell like. For me, I like to smell sweet and soft, plus it has to be long lasting. When creating the fragrance, that was something I was looking for. I wanted to make something so good to where when I walk by, people want to know what the smell is. It’s a lot of smell testing and smelling of different scents. You start smelling so much to where your nose gets numb, and you have to take a day off. The creative process is pretty amazing because you really get to see how things actually happen as opposed to going to the store and buying a bottle. There’s a process for how the bottle looks, the packaging and even making sure it’s allergy tested. It’s a lot of work, but if you’re into it, you’ll definitely love it.
DX: In 2010 you dealt with the leaking of personal photos. Considering the massive amounts of celebrity leaks recently, how cautious have you been since then and what advice would you have for anyone regarding personal photos?
Trina: Listen, it’s so crazy because you can’t trust anything whether it’s people, the phone, Internet or anything. I know for myself, as soon as I heard that, I checked my phone and started erasing everything. I don’t care if it was me kissing someone or a topless photo on the beach, I started erasing because I know the feeling of that is so annoying, and you feel so violated. I think that everybody takes personal, sexy pictures at some point or another. I think when people violate and take things out of context, you have to remember it’s a risk. If a girl sends one to a guy or vice versa, you can lose your phone or get hacked. It’s so much that can happen. So it’s one of those things where you have to be careful. It’s a sad thing now and so many women are being attacked by it. You have to really be careful and just erase, erase, erase. Watch everything that’s around you because it’s not a cool thing to go through.
DX: Once you made the announcement of you parting ways with Slip-N-Slide, you made the decision to go the independent route despite rumors of you moving to MMG. Do you see yourself going back to major or even affiliating with an imprint?
Trina: I don’t need a major. I’m already a brand. I learned a lot from being signed to the majors. Don’t get it wrong, the majors are a machine and have so much power and so much stuff. For an artist that’s been in the game for a while; you understand how to put together a great record and understand the ground work that goes into everything. All you need is a great record. Being an independent artist myself with my own company, that’s more money for me. I cut the major and middle man out, and guess who profits the money? That’s main point. People aren’t buying albums like that. The album sales for the standard artist is down– extremely down—and I’m talking about big artist on major record labels who are used to selling four or five million records. They’ve gone down to selling 30,000 or 60,000 records. You can see that’s a decline because of the Internet. You just want to be smart, which means keeping the budget low, and make dope records and good videos. You want to promote and make sure that your whole roll-out plan is great, then you go to the money.
To the outsider or the fans, they don’t understand that if you’re independent and sell 30,000 or 50,000 records independently, that’s amazing for you. If you’re with a major, it looks suspect because of everything behind it. I’m a business woman, and I had to make a business decision, and that’s it. I’ve been with the majors, and I enjoyed my time with them. Slip-N-Slide is like my family. I’ve learned so much between Atlantic, Slip-N-Slide and EMI to know how to control and do my own business.
DX: I just watched A Miami Tail on Netflix. Funny film. Do you ever see yourself getting back into acting?
Trina: Yes, right now I’m considering some TV. That was my first movie, and I was so nervous. It was just like I really wanted to do it, and the director thought I was perfect for the role. I just got in there without acting classes or coaching. He gave us lines, and I went home everyday and studied. Then I would go to the trailer everyday and study some more. I did it so much that I started to become the character. I would be with regular people talking like I was on set. My friends would have to tell me I wasn’t on set anymore. It was one of things I really enjoyed doing. I’m definitely considering some acting and some TV. I feel like it’s a great thing. I’m very spontaneous and a people person so television could be a great thing.
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