Trina Is Way More Than Just ‘The Baddest Chick’ (But She’s Still That, Too)
When you look at Katrina “Trina” Taylor, you’re going to need to look beyond the sex-charged lyrics of her 2008 house party staple, “Look Back At Me.” Over the course of her 15 plus years in the industry, the Miami-bred femcee has transcended the confines of the raunchy rap persona often thrusted upon her. Not only is she a consistent rapper, but she’s a newly independent artist, the CEO of her own label, a clothing line designer, an entrepreneur, a future TV star and an overall domestic woman. But most of all, Trina’s a little misunderstood.
“I think [there’s a] missing section that people don’t really know or get about me because they’re so used to seeing ‘Da Baddest Chick,'” she says. Her sixth studio album—which she plans to drop at the top of 2015—promises a bit of clarity on her evolution.
She stopped by on a rainy afternoon to explain how different her new LP will sound from the rest of her discography, exploring pop music, how unfazed she is by the French Montana situation and the need for solidarity between female rappers. —Stacy-Ann Ellis (@stassi_x)
VIBE: Your latest single “F**k Love” just got the visual treatment and it looks intense. Talk a little about it.
Trina: I usually like to be involved, but this particular time, I just wanted to see where [the director] would go with it. I’ve never done a video where I don’t really perform in the video, like I’m not saying a word. So it’s just the storyline and it’s basically sweet revenge. You know how when they say you can make a girl but you can’t tell that she’s mad because she still has a smile and acting like nothing is the matter? That’s me in the video. I’m basically walking around the house and putting on make-up and I got this little smirk. My face is very serious, I get in the car and I’m driving, just driving around and you can see the intensity in my face. It’s one of those things where I’m hurt but I’m going to get you.
It’s scary, almost.
Yeah it’s almost like a scary movie trying to get to the end part and you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s dark in a way. My revenge is that I was probably hurt in the beginning but now you’re going to pay. You know? And you probably never saw it coming. We get to the end and I’m driving and all you can see is what I’m doing. You see me shoveling, you see me digging, you see me real aggressive. Then like you see two body bags on the floor and you don’t really know how they got there because you didn’t really see it. It’s the mysteriousness of somebody getting you back. You don’t know how they did it or how they was going to end up that way. Sweet and simple, just like sweet revenge.
Have you ever had like a sweet revenge moment?
Um yeah, I did before, a long time ago. Well it wasn’t as sweet as the video makes it seem. It was just one of those things where I was in a situation and it didn’t work and the guy wasn’t as pleasant. When guys are wrong they don’t want to know how to just be wrong. You just want to come up with all these excuses and play the victim and I should forgive and I should say whatever and I should accept you back because “we love each other.” If we really did, if you loved me like I loved you, then you would have never done the things that you did for us to get to this point. I got to that point in the end thinking that I was going to be there, we went away for a while and then I’m just here like everything’s okay and nothing’s the matter. Then I decided I’m just leaving. I took everything, packed up everything and just left. Never left a note, a call, a text that I was leaving or nothing. I just was gone. Changed my number you couldn’t talk to me. I think it hurt him more because I didn’t react the way you wanted me to react. I didn’t fight you. I didn’t go crazy. I didn’t call yelling and screaming. I just totally went numb. Some of it bothered me because it’s hurtful and I kept trying to figure it out, but then there was this part where I was like “Yes!” I didn’t want him to feel that way but I feel like he deserved it. So it was bittersweet.
You get that last laugh. It helps a little bit.
It makes you feel good. Especially when you get the upper hand, you’re back on top because you done got knocked down. It’s like “Yeah!”
What made you work with Tory Lanez on “F**k Love”?
I was introduced to him by some producers in Miami. He came to the studio and he came in ready, like ready to record an album. He came with mad beats, production, hooks and just different sounds. He’s an artist but he also does the production of actually helping produce the track. The track didn’t sound nothing like how it sounds. He made the beat, took it out, added instruments and did the whole thing. When I got in the studio, he came in like “I’m going to play you some records,” and we liked a bunch. I actually chose maybe four or five records of his and then the single, that was the last record that we did. I didn’t even choose that when we first went in. We went all the way back maybe like two-three weeks after and went back to that record. I just like his worth ethic. He’s from Toronto, so he has a different sound. Like a new artist and they come into the studio like a breath of fresh air. He was like, “I’m ready to cut a record right now!” The chemistry was like that! We just went back and forth. It’s funny because I had a record a year ago, it was a beat and a hook and it was him on the hook and we never knew who the person. In the session that night he was like, “Let me hear what you’ve got and what you’re recording.” I recorded to this record and we were planning to put someone else on the record a singer and he said, “Wait, that’s me!” We were like wow. We never knew who he was on the record and it was really interesting.
It was a full circle moment.
Yeah, it was instant. He went straight to business, no hesitation. Before you knew it, in one night we had like three records. We went back in two days later, we cut two more tracks, I did a record for him. We didn’t know what record or what angle we were gonna go, we were just building and doing what felt great. We did a record that was more for the streets, a record that was melodic. He did a record for me that was an intimate kind of record because it was about my little brother who had just passed. He wanted to create that type of record for me because we talked about it and felt like he saw that pain and wanted to bring that out. That was emotional. Then we went back to the club record and we came up with the “F Love” record.
You mentioned a mix of some club songs, some showing intimate moments. How did you determine the diversity and ratio of songs on the new album?
Now it’s just the feeling or the mood. I’m not going to put a lot of the raw, street records on my album. I’ve done that. I’ve had albums that were a mix of everything. I want to leave that for the streets and the clubs on the mixtape. I think this album, I just want it to be classic exclusive records that have meaning and shows growth and matureness. It’s sexy, it’s hurt, it’s happiness, it’s a movement of everything. And I think it’s like a story from me starting to now. Even seeing the place I’ve grown to be in right now, I’m creatively in charge of that. The sound and how I want my voice to sound and what I want to say. I think that’s just how I feel. There’s no direction. I’m just recording records and I know when I feel it, this is for the album. We can put this out right now, this is a dope record. I want it for the streets. I want this for the loyal day one fans, it’s raw, street music, so let’s do it for the streets. But this is classic. This is for the album. That’s how the balance of it is.
It’s showing the side that they don’t think of immediately when they think of Trina.
I want it to be more unpredictable. I don’t wanna do the predictable records that you think of for me. When I did this record, it was one of those records that just put me in the mind of when I did “Here We Go.” “Here We Go” was one of those records where you’re a woman and you’re like here we go again, it’s the same old thing. Same old drama and I’m over it. This record went into that same volume for me. Now for me it’s more balanced. You can hear it, you can feel it. It’s a lot more melodic than it is gritty.
Who else did you work with besides Tory?
I worked with this guy Young Yonny. He’s in L.A. and the one who produced Trey Songz’ “Say Aah.” I worked with Rico Love on the album. I have Cashous Clay, just to name a few. It’s a lot of newer producers. I didn’t want to get the hottest producers. There’s so much talent and so many producers that came in with dope records for me and they’re not even known. Like D-Roc, he’s from Miami. I just wanted to give others a good chance with great music and bring out something different. Mostly when I go to producers for a record, instantly they think of “The Baddest Chick” or “Pull Over” and come with these kind of records. I’m like y’all don’t even know me anymore. Let’s come with something different. I say different and they get scared. Like what’s different? You want to do pop? I’m like no, just something that can show you that I’ve grown out of the baddest chick element. I’m still that, but still.
Would you be opposed to pop?
Not so much pop. I like the sound of it. I like some of it, but I don’t want to be a “pop star.” I don’t want to start doing that. But I definitely love the change in the sound. I recorded a few records that are pop-y, but I didn’t want to go out of my element. I didn’t want to do crazy different and you just don’t understand the record. As soon as you hear it you’re like this is not a Trina record. I want it to still be me but you can still tell she’s trying different sounds, she’s changing up the sound and she’s doing something. So I have this record called “Feeding Me Lies” and that would be considered a pop-y kind of record. I liked it. It didn’t go too far. I was still able to write and make it balanced and tell a story. I like the ones where I can still stay in my element but it shows the different side of me.
And not alienate your core fans while still attracting new ones. Because peoples’ attention spans are much shorter these days.
It’s one day short right now. And that’s because we’re exposed to so much social media, the internet, downloading and mix tapes and everything free, so everyday there’s a new person, a new record and it’s so much all day, you don’t want to change your whole character.
Do you think social media sometimes shifts the focus farther from the music, though? You’re a package, not just a musician.
I really don’t like social media, honestly. But I do understand the platform of it. I understand that it’s a platform for artists to make sure that your fans understand what’s going on. Because you could put out a record and if it’s not mainstream, the fans have no idea that you put out a record. People will say, when are you coming back out with a new record? I have five new records out. So I definitely see the platform that it gives you to make sure people stay in the loop and it keeps you aware and consistent. But there’s a downside to it. It can be annoying and it’s distracting and instead of promoting a record, people are promoting your personal life, your family, your kids. It starts getting all over the place. It’s a gift and a curse to me.
FLIP TO SEE HER THOUGHTS ON GOING INDIE, FRENCH MONTANA AND FEMALE RAPPERS COMING TOGETHER >>
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