Ghetto Glorious

How three inner-city kids turned tragedy into a soon-to-be platinum hip-hop hit

See back in the day,
there wasn't no AIDs,
there wasn't no AKs,
more afros and braids
Wasn't nothing for a boy to get a straight fade
But not no more, niggas done twist up the fro,
let 'em lock and grow,
quick to go to gun play bout that flow

-- from "Back in the Days"

Trick (in Dolphins uniform) rolls with Tre+6, one of Lucas's first finds
Michael Marko
Trick (in Dolphins uniform) rolls with Tre+6, one of Lucas's first finds
Trina's slick talk easily translated into ferocious rap
photo courtesy Slip N Slide records
Trina's slick talk easily translated into ferocious rap

Trick grew up as the second-oldest child in a household of eleven brothers and sisters in Liberty City's Pork 'n Beans projects, officially called the Liberty Square housing development. "I always been getting into trouble, ever since I was a shorty," he says. "Fights? Every kid in the project fight. I used to get in two fights a day -- one in the morning and one in the evening." He attended Holmes elementary in Liberty City in the 1980s. The place "was thugged out from day one," he recalls. After class he and his friends drummed up mischief; they tossed firecrackers into people's mailboxes and stayed out late at impromptu block parties. He claims to have thought little about the future. "I just wanted to be rich. It didn't really matter how."

At age thirteen he arrived late to class and the teacher refused to let him in. Trick departed, returned with an iron pipe, and went after her, according to court papers. A school monitor had to restrain him. After the incident he was sent to a youth detention facility. "Maurice appears not to be remorseful, but seems to be very upset that he was caught," a counselor noted in the court records.

The next year police charged Trick with auto theft and he was again incarcerated. The year after that, he was charged with aggravated assault and was again turned over to authorities. After his release his mother sent him to live with his father, Charles Young.

That's where the wild child met his half-brother, Hollywood, who was three and a half years his senior. The older sibling made an impression and became a strong influence. Hollywood sneaked Trick into clubs and brought him along to parties. "We just chilled," Trick says. "We kept it real."

At that point Trick says he was just a thug figuring out how to make a buck. It never entered his mind to find a legitimate job. "You mean like flipping burgers?" he asks incredulously.

On April 3, 1991, sixteen-year-old Maurice Young ran a stop sign at SW 103rd Avenue and 149th Street, right in front of a Metro-Dade police cruiser. When the cop pulled over Young's car, he found three kilos of cocaine and a nine-millimeter Walther PPK semiautomatic handgun behind the driver's seat.

By that time neither the judicial system nor Trick's father had much sympathy left. According to court documents: "The defendant's father, Charles Young, stated he has given up on Maurice. He no longer wants him living in his house, nor does he want anything to do with Maurice. Young failed to respond to requests for follow-up interviews."

Trick was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty to armed trafficking with intent to distribute cocaine. On May 3, 1991, a judge sentenced him to four years in prison. He served one year behind bars and was released on probation in March 1992. A month later he violated the terms of his release when he and a friend fought with a man named Harold Tinker. A police report states that Trick pulled a gun from his car and fired it into the air. Trick says he took the gun from Tinker. Nevertheless he was returned to the slammer for more than two years.

It was while stewing behind bars that he started writing lyrics, mostly about his life. "In prison there's nothing else to do," he recalls. "You ain't got nothing but the walls. If you don't make noise, there ain't gonna be noise." He wrote about his brother's death and about friends who dealt drugs, then went to jail. On "They Don't Live Long," from True Story, he explains the origins of his early life of crime: "I'm taking care of mama now/ See papa was a rolling stone/Left mama alone/She raised us on her own." Later in the song he shouts out, "[I] can't forget my brother Hollywood." The majority of his lyrics were neither boastful nor apologetic. And like much rap music, the themes didn't extend much beyond the futility of street life.

By simply testifying to the destruction he had seen, inflicted, or suffered, it seemed that Trick had achieved resolution. The subject matter is prison and death. "In my songs I'm saying thugs don't live that long. Don't do it if you're not willing to accept the consequences, and there are consequences. This life costs dollars and time. It even can cost your life."

Trick decided his stuff was good. So he reached out to the one guy he knew who was associated with the music industry: Ted Lucas.

See, marijuana got me coping with my problems
And Hennessy got me hoping I can solve 'em
My baby mama full of drama
Trying to scar me
I'm being like my sorry-ass father
I try harder

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