Recorded in Paris, France, but claiming the city had minimal influence on the effect of his 2010 release; Tricky’s Mixed Race is one of his most personal to date. The title defines the half-black (Jamaican) and half-white (British) make up in his DNA, but more importantly, reflects his life’s experiences growing up in a very tough white ghetto in Knowle West in Bristol, England, where he was shaped by a variety of music and artists ranging from soul to rock, and funk to reggae/dancehall.
Written by Tricky but sang by Italian/Irish vocalist Frankey Riley, the LP’s opener (track 3 on the bonus CD) Every Day takes the listener down a familiar path that Tricky is accustomed to taking his fans – one of darkness, mystery and deciphering his fathomless depth: “I am hope, I’m the noose and rope/I’m life, I’m death, I’m your last breath/I’m seasons, I’m reasons, I’m why you should end.” Over his signature undefined, genre-bending, groove–bordering between trip-hop and sketchy dark funk–it’s no wonder the album’s artwork depicts him in that dismal, gritty and haunting imagery. Hardly an album you’d feel any urge to load up in the daytime or with a vision of the sun in your mind’s eye.
Tricky’s version of jazz on Early Bird and his visceral Ghetto Stars, both sang by Frankey Riley again, aren’t for the rise ‘n’ shine early-bird-9-to-5ers, either, but fit scarily in the wee-hours of the dark morning, where tools of destruction in the professional world of violence aim, fire and hire unemployed gangsters – a world Tricky’s been surrounded by throughout his early life.
With the exceptions of lighter songs such as Come to Me, Really Real (above) and Time to Dance, it’s the dimly lit, gully-lifestyle expressed and seen through the rusty jail bars of KingstonLogic (video) sang by dancehall gangstress Terry Lynn, and Murder Weapon, where the chorus-hook repeats and boasts – “shine yuh gun, shine yuh gun” – that peddles this ongoing crime-wave on.
For the LP’s closer, Tricky’s youngest brother Marlon Thaws and another emcee Blackman on Bristol to London, run up on you over this hectic, adrenaline-fuelled beat, making it much too risky NOT to empty your pockets as demanded. You better comply!