If you were a young unpublished critic before getting your hands on a 3.5 floppy disk containing America Online, you accepted the shibboleths bequeathed you, the worst of which concerns “sexy music.” I don’t understand the concept of fucking to music. When spontaneous groping happens at home or someone’s place, the TV and music playback mechanism of choice may or may not be on. I had a friend over a month after the release of Lemonade, and I put it on so he could see I was hip to the zeitgeist. To me sex is an escape from art. Sex is venal — no more than choosing music to impress a trick.
I write this preface to explain how Tricky is as erotic as halitosis. In the mid nineties his dank hocus pocus and promise of sodomy conjured VIP rooms I would yet visit but Argento films I had seen, which explains the attraction: wish fulfillment until I actually experienced the wish. He still sounds good, despite my cocking an eyebrow at how silly the enthusiasm for him, often by men, looks a generation later. Martine deserves the credit for the success of his re-imagining of one of Public Enemy’s most scabrous jams; her expert non-singing is the prism through which the outrages of the prison industrial establishment register. My second favorite track is the opening track on 1999’s minor Juxtapose, on which Tricky Kid, over sitars and acoustic guitars, warns takers not to fuck with his record deal. I didn’t get to 2001’s multi-artist would-be crossover until I joined Spotify — the Ed Kowalczyk track ain’t bad! (I prefer the opener, as usual); 1996’s Nearly God project, where collaborations with Alison Moyet, Neneh Cherry, and Terry Hall not only dusted them off but pointed towards where their own albums would go. But 1998’s Angels with Dirty Faces, at the time a travesty, I return to most, in part because Tricky as producer subsumes the sex jive into a relentless forward motion that I can almost call a groove were it not for the gunk and barnacles.
1. Black Steel
2. For Real
3. Tricky Kid
5. Makes Me Wanna Die
7. Angels with Dirty Faces
9. Hell is Around the Corner
11. Brand New You’re Retro
12. Make a Change (ft. Alison Moyet)
14. Singin’ the Blues
15. Lyrics of Fury
16. Diss Never (Dig Up We History)
17. Together Now (w/Neneh Cherry)
18. Nothing’s Changed