AskDefine | Define tricky

Dictionary Definition

tricky adj
1 not to be trusted; "how extraordinarily slippery a liar the camera is"- James Agee; "they called Reagan the teflon president because mud never stuck to him" [syn: slippery, teflon]
2 having concealed difficulty; "a catchy question"; "a tricky recipe to follow" [syn: catchy]
3 marked by skill in deception; "cunning men often pass for wise"; "deep political machinations"; "a foxy scheme"; "a slick evasive answer"; "sly as a fox"; "tricky Dik"; "a wily old attorney" [syn: crafty, cunning, dodgy, foxy, guileful, knavish, slick, sly, tricksy, wily] [also: trickiest, trickier]

User Contributed Dictionary



IPA: /tɹɪki/ SAMPA: /tr\Iki/


  1. hard to deal with, complicated
    They were in a tricky situation.
  2. adept at using deception
    A tricky salesman can sell anything.

Related terms


hard to deal with
adept at using deception

See also

Extensive Definition

Adrian Thaws (born January 27, 1968), better known as Tricky, is an English trip hop musician in the British music scene (despite loathing the "trip hop" tag). He is noted for a whispering lyrical style that is half-rapped, half-sung. As a producer and a musician, he is noted for a dark, rich and layered sound. Culturally, Tricky bridges white and black Britain, particularly in his fusion of rock and hip hop, high art and pop culture. His debut album Maxinquaye was nominated for the Mercury Prize and voted Album of the Year by NME Magazine.


Tricky was born in Knowle West, Bristol, England. His father left the family before he was born and his mother, Maxine Quaye, committed suicide when he was four. He named his first solo album after her - Maxinquaye - and once said that though he hardly knew her he feels like she's speaking through him with his words.
Tricky's family includes a great diversity of ethnic backgrounds, including Jamaican, Spanish, British, Amerindian and many others. He cites that his family is incredibly varied in appearance, one cousin white, one seemingly Asian, one very dark-skinned and looking mostly of African heritage (Melody Maker Jan. 11, 2007).
He spent his youth with his grandmother, who often let him watch old horror movies instead of going to school. At 15 he began to write profound lyrics ("I like to rock, I like to dance, I like pretty girls taking down their pants" MixMag '96), though not with the ambiguity and tricky-ness that showed up later on his albums. At 17, he spent some time in prison because he bought forged £50 notes from a friend, who later informed the police. In an interview, Tricky said: "Prison was really good. I'm never going back" (NME '95).

Early career

Eventually he met DJ Milo and hung out with a sound system called The Wild Bunch, which by 1987 evolved into Massive Attack. He received the nickname 'Tricky Kid' and at 18 he became a member of the Fresh 4, a rap group built from The Wild Bunch. He also rapped on Massive Attack's acclaimed debut album Blue Lines (1991). But as soon as making music turned into a business he didn't like it anymore. Though Tricky also appeared on Massive Attack's next album, Protection, he never had the feeling of being a part of the band and never really enjoyed it.
In 1991, before the release of Massive Attack's album Blue Lines, he met Martina Topley-Bird. Some time later she came to his house, and mentioned to Tricky and Mark Stewart that she could sing. Martina was only fifteen years old, but her 'honey-coated vox' impressed them and they recorded a song called "Aftermath" (though The Face '95 mentions that the first song they recorded together was called "Shoebox"). Tricky showed "Aftermath" to Massive Attack, but they weren't interested. So in 1993 he decided to press a few hundred vinyl copies of the song. He cut it directly off of the tape, so that the song is basically "just bassline and hiss". (NME '94). Finally, this white label got him a contract with Island Records and he started to record his first solo album.


He left Massive Attack to release his debut album, Maxinquaye. The album was a massive success and Tricky was catapulted to international fame, something he was notably uncomfortable with. This was because the impact of his album truly set the stage for trip-hop within the black community in the United Kingdom. Tricky was able to do so much with his music by incorporating different musical genres in his sound, but ultimately making sure he made the overall product his own. In fact, the Maxinquaye album review by the Rolling Stone magazine read, "Tricky devoured everything from American hip-hop and soul to reggae and the more melancholic strains of 80s British rock." It is of importance to note that Tricky paid tribute to early hip-hop artists whose music was, and still is, influential in the hip-hop scene. He also incorporated commercial pop music into his music without taking the edge and power away from his music and lyrics. By having early hip-hop and pop samples in his music, he found a way to appeal to both audiences, which rarely happens. As Hesmondhalgh and Melville wrote, "Tricky showed his debt to hip-hop aesthetics by reconstructualizing samples and slices of both the most respected black music (Public Enemy) and the tackiest pop (quoting David Cassidy’s “How Can I Be Sure?”)." In mixing all of these elements together, Tricky was able to create more than just music people could dance to at clubs. He created “a mercurial style of dance music that immediately finds it own fast feet”." Within many of his tracks he blends elements of varying types of music, and use his lyrics to create a much more ambiguous and blurry reality of sexuality.
In 1995 during the making of Icelandic singer Björk's album Post, the two were romantically involved. The two kept this a secret from the press, feeling the tabloids would never leave them in peace. After their relationship ended, Björk began a short lived relationship with drum and bass artist Goldie with whom Tricky famously had a fist fight at a Florida night club which contributed to his reputation for instigating fights, which then led to the commonly known term - "tricky lookin' motha fucker". Tricky contributed writing on the Post tracks "Enjoy" and "Headphones".
One of his most well known confrontations was with a journalist that mentioned his daughter with Martina. This lead to the single Can't Freestyle wich was often thoughht to be a myth until it was released on the internet in 2000. Others believe that this song is actually about his poor relationship with Finley Quaye, who may be his half-uncle, but Tricky seems to question their related-ness in this song.

Side projects and film career

Tricky has guest starred on a number of albums, including a notable appearance on Live's fifth studio album, V. This appearance came as Tricky and Live's lead singer Ed Kowalczyk had developed a close friendship, with Kowalczyk contributing vocals to 'Evolution Revolution Love', a track on Tricky's album Blowback.
Tricky has also acted in various films. He appeared in a significant supporting role in the 1997 Luc Besson film The Fifth Element, playing the right-hand man Michael to evil businessman Mr. Zorg. He reportedly put off actor Gary Oldman (who played Zorg) because, while he had his back to the camera, he was eating a Twix bar, to Oldman's anger ("He's facking eatin' a Twix!") He also appears briefly in both the 1997 John Woo directed Face/Off (his single "Christiansands" is also played during his brief cameo) as well as the 2004 Olivier Assayas film Clean, playing himself, and had a large role in the music video for "Parabol/Parabola" by Tool.
In 2001 Tricky appeared in online advertising for the webisodal show We Deliver, about a marijuana delivery service in NYC. Though he didin't actually appear in any episodes, in the advertising it appears as if he's a customer of the service.


Tricky's website last reports him busy at work with the musical acts signed to his Brown Punk record label. He also recently produced several new solo works that have been featured in television programs such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The L Word and Girlfriends. As well as this Tricky contributed a track to a compilation entitled Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited, the track is called "Au Revoir Emmanuelle".
In October 2006, reported that Tricky would release a new album in 2007. The February 2008 issue of music magazine MOJO reported that Tricky's new album would be released in April 2008, but it was not.
Titled, Knowle West Boy, it was reported to chronicle his upbringing on a tough Bristol council estate. It is currently scheduled for release in the U.K. on July 7, 2008 (September 9th, 2008 in the U.S.), with the first single, Council Estate coming out June 30.
A Web site promoting the new album,, is now online and features audio and video samples.
He has also been confirmed to play the Festival Internacional de Benicassim, on July 19, 2008.




  • A Ruff Guide (2002)
  • Queen Of The Damned - The Soundtrack (2002)
  • Skins - The Soundtrack (2007)

Singles and EPs

Collaborating artists

tricky in Czech: Tricky
tricky in German: Tricky
tricky in Spanish: Tricky
tricky in French: Tricky
tricky in Hebrew: טריקי
tricky in Georgian: თრიქი
tricky in Lithuanian: Tricky
tricky in Dutch: Tricky
tricky in Polish: Tricky
tricky in Russian: Трики
tricky in Swedish: Adrian Thaws

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Herculean, Machiavellian, Machiavellic, abstruse, acute, ambidextrous, amoral, arch, arduous, artful, astute, awkward, beguiling, brutal, cagey, calculating, canny, catchy, cheating, chiseling, clever, collusive, complex, complicated, conscienceless, corrupt, corrupted, covinous, crafty, criminal, critical, crooked, cunning, cute, dark, debatable, deceitful, deceiving, deceptive, deep, deep-laid, delicate, delusive, delusory, demanding, designing, devious, difficile, difficult, diplomatic, dishonest, dishonorable, double, double-dealing, doubtful, dubious, duplicitous, evasive, exacting, fallacious, false, falsehearted, feline, felonious, finagling, fishy, formidable, foxy, fraudulent, furtive, guileful, hairy, hallucinatory, hard, hard-earned, hard-fought, hazardous, iffy, ill-got, ill-gotten, illusive, illusory, immoral, indirect, ingenious, insidious, intricate, inventive, jawbreaking, knotted, knotty, knowing, laborious, mean, misleading, no picnic, not easy, not kosher, operose, pawky, perfidious, playful, politic, prankish, pranksome, pranky, precarious, questionable, quirky, ready, resourceful, rigorous, risky, rocky, roguish, rotten, rough, rugged, scheming, sensitive, serpentine, set with thorns, severe, shady, shameless, sharp, shifty, shrewd, sinister, slick, slippery, sly, smooth, snaky, sneaky, sophistical, spiny, sportive, stealthy, steep, sticky, strategic, strenuous, subtile, subtle, supple, surreptitious, suspicious, tactical, thorny, ticklish, toilsome, touch-and-go, touchy, tough, treacherous, trick, trickish, tricksy, two-faced, uncertain, unconscienced, unconscientious, unconscionable, undependable, underhand, underhanded, unethical, unfair, unjust, unprincipled, unsavory, unscrupulous, unsportsmanlike, unstraightforward, uphill, vulpine, waggish, wary, wicked, wily, without remorse, without shame
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