After 18 Years, Trina Is Still The Baddest

Holding court in a Toronto strip club, the Diamond Princess is back and she’s all about her business.

I was in middle school when a then-18-year-old Trina stormed hip-hop with a show-stealing verse on Trick Daddy's "Nann Nigga," sassing the Miami rapper with her cutting wit and high-energy flow. As a pre-teen, I didn't fully understand the sexual references on "Nann Nigga," or on much of the other music I was obsessing over, for that matter. Eat the coochie wit the legs up, then I blow it all in yo butt, my friends and I rapped along with Trick, not entirely grasping what he meant but somehow knowing that we weren't really supposed to, either. Instinctively, though, I fucked much harder with Trina's combative, self-assured rebuttal on the song's second half, understanding that it was a general sentiment I'd eventually identify with: she was standing up for herself, like a real bad bitch does. I ain't ashamed of nothing I do, she says before launching into a proud run-down of her sexual and personal agency: You don't know nann ho who done been the places I been, who can spend the grands that I spend, who fuck about 5 or 6 best friends.

Across five albums and nearly two decades since, Trina has continued to play the same role for a generation of women. We love her contagious confidence, her commitment to emotional honesty, how great she looks in a skintight red carpet dress. We love her vocal support of other women, her willingness to skate between vulnerable and powerful, her unspoken pledge to do things on her own terms.

This week, Trina dropped two singles from her still-untitled sixth album. The first song is an unlikely Bill Withers-sampling party anthem that features T-Pain and Young Cash. The second, a rap ballad with a Rico Love hook, sounds like a purposeful attempt at a crossover radio tune. On it, Trina laments over failed romances and her habit of consistently choosing the wrong men, with lyrics that will no doubt prompt yet more discussions about the very public end of her sort-of relationship with French Montana. Together, though, the two songs suggest that she's willing to try anything to make her next project stick.

Earlier this week, in the dressing room of a Toronto strip club, we spoke about heartbreak, the sound of her sixth album, and wanting women to in rap to show more solidarity with each other.

There's a certain perception people have about Miami—beaches, strip clubs, all of that. How does that impact your music? That's the difference between [other cities and] Miami! If we were in Miami, I'm leaving the house at 2 o'clock. So the club there is over at 5 or 6 and the vibe is a special vibe. Miami's like a semi-Vegas. It's more late-night, so you're always partying. [In Toronto, where last call is at 2AM] I was like, "Turn the music on! We don't wanna leave!"

That's the vibe of "Lean on Me." "Lean On Me" was one of those things that we were in the middle of making the album and we were on a break from recording. Someone sent the record and it was a nice vibe with T-Pain. I just got on the record but it wasn't part of the plan. We were in the studio, drinking, having fun, having a party. It's all about Ciroc and Patron and drinking and it just happened to come out of nowhere. It's just one of those records that was fun.

Last year you dropped "Fuck Love," which was super emotional and which everyone thought was about French Montana. What's the story on that song? "Fuck Love" was a great record. But there's some sort of misconception about it. People thought I was in a place where I was like love shouldn't exist. But that's never the case. I'm a lover, I love love. Everybody that's alive, man or woman, there's just a point you come to with relationships where you're like, "I'm just over it, I don't care. I've done all I could do, fuck this and fuck you." So when I did "Fuck Love," thats just what it was. It wasn't about anyone specific, and it wasn't even my sound. It's this guy Tory Lanez that's from Toronto. He brought the song to me and I was like, "Yes, let's do it." Because it's something everybody can relate to. Like, I know you've been through something like that, where somebody's just doing the most or they're not being faithful or dishonest. And you're just like, "I'm tired of your shit. Get it together or I'm out. I gave all you can give, I gave you 50,000 chances and you just can't get it right." That's just real. So, for the record, that song wasn't about anybody. It was just about being realistic.

What can we expect to hear on the new album? The album is so much fun. It's energetic, it's raw, it's sensual. It's just different. It sounds like love, it's vulnerable, it's exciting. It's not so much a new direction as it is just where i've developed to be as a woman. It's a growth thing for me and it's just about where I'm at in my life right now. I've done five albums and this is the sixth one. So to me, I'm in a place where I can do whatever I wanna do. I can make any kind of record I want to make make. I can make it sexy, provocative, raw, raunchy. I can make rap, I can make pop. It's just that now I can have fun with it. I can just make music and I don't have nobody telling me what to do

Are you ready to announce a release date? I'm not tripping on release dates anymore. I could drop it in the middle of the night. Like at 12 o'clock, just for no reason. It's more spontaneous, it's more fun to just drop it out of nowhere. And then everyone will be like, "Oh my god you just dropped a record." It gets people more excited, I think. It's best when things aren't predictable. Music has changed so drastically. It's not in the same place it was 10 years ago or 15 years ago. And for me, if I'm putting out a record, I want everyone to be following that wave. It's all about the wave, not the date.

You often talk about horoscopes and how being a Sagittarius affects certain parts of your life. How about in your career? Sagittarius are very controlling. The thing about Sagittarius is this: we're planned, we're precise. We're like, "If you do this and then you do this, you'll end up being this." There's always a plan to follow. I'm not a follower, I'm a leader. I'm already five steps ahead of you so I think we're the smartest sign of the horoscope. Sagittarius don't take no shit. So when you come to another person that's a leader, like a Leo or a Capricorn, they'll either fall back or fall off.

I remembered your tribute to Nicki Minaj at the BMI Awards when all that stuff was popping off between women rappers last year, Iggy and Azealia Banks. What were you thinking about when you were seeing what was happening between them? I just feel like everything is already overpowered by the guys. I've been in the game so long and I've been around a bunch of guys and sometimes they don't even like each other, but they'll be in the same room, they're on the same record, they're in the same video. It's just all about the business and it's not personal. With women, it's always personal and emotional. We can be envious and insecure. I've always been secure with who I am, but I just see so many beautiful, talented women with so many different styles of music. So sometimes I see this stuff happening and I want to be just about the music. I want it to be the Million Women's March out here.

Lead photo: Robin V.

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After 18 Years, Trina Is Still The Baddest