Tricky Exposes 'Vulnerable' Side

Excerpted from the magazine for

U.K. artist Tricky is one of the founding fathers of the early-1990s trip-hop scene. After providing raps and vocals for early Massive Attack albums ("Blue Lines" and "Protection"), he struck out on his own.

Critics praised his 1995 solo debut, "Maxinquaye." With scant radio play, the album sold 222,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

With the exception of "Pre-Millennium Tension" (1996), which has sold 218,000 copies, Tricky's five follow-up albums have failed to repeat such robust sales. The artist's latest set, "Blowback" (2001), has sold 95,000 copies.

His new album, "Vulnerable" (Brown Punk/Sanctuary), is due June 17. For it to succeed, Tricky must regain the tastemaking audience that embraced Maxinquaye.

Tricky began the process April 29, when a month-long exhibition of his digital photography opened at the Palais de Tokyo museum in Paris. The artist co-designed the packaging for "Vulnerable," and he also shot all the photos.

At the same time as the exhibit, Tricky linked with retailer Agnes B. to design a T-shirt that is being sold in Agnes B. shops worldwide, which will also be branded with "Vulnerable" paraphernalia.

For Tricky, it's about doing what comes naturally. That said, he can't help but reflect on "Blowback" when discussing the provocative "Vulnerable."

"I was flat broke when Hollywood Records offered me tons of money for what became 'Blowback,'" Tricky says from his home in Los Angeles. He says the deal was brokered based on 2-year-old demos. "I took the money, produced the tracks with various guest artists, and then toured."

He says he quickly became disillusioned with the music. "At that point, you forget about the power of music. You forget the people who bought your records through the good and bad times."

Tricky says he learned from his mistakes. He acknowledges that he needed to again create something for like-minded individuals. This involved starting a new label, Brown Punk, with his manager, Bruce Garfield of Avenue Management Group in New York.

In the U.S., "Vulnerable" -- an enhanced CD -- is the first Brown Punk release. The album also marks the beginning of the artist's new worldwide deal-excluding the U.K. and the rest of Europe-with Sanctuary Records. Throughout Europe, Tricky is signed to Anti-/Epitaph, which released the album May 19.

Brown Punk has signed a handful of artists, including British rapper Radanna, 14-year-old L.A.-based singer Liz Densmore, and Italian chanteuse Costanza Francavilla.

The featured vocalist on "Vulnerable," Francavilla is currently collaborating with Tricky on her debut album. When it arrives in the fall, it will mark Brown Punk's European debut.

On June 13, Tricky commences a European tour in Italy. Following a six-week European trek, he will bring the show to North America.

Excerpted from the May 31, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

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