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Then Hollywood was murdered. "It showed me how easy it is to die," Ted Lucas says. "Everybody doesn't get to live to 30 or 40 years old. It made me closer to God."
Trick admits it was his brother's death that gave him the motivation to stay out of prison for good. Lucas helped pay to transport Trick from prison to Miami so that he could attend Hollywood's funeral.
In the years that ensued, Trick and Lucas stayed close to Trina. "When Hollywood died, we tried to comfort her," Lucas says. "We never let go; she was always part of the family. Trina's like a little sister to me and Trick."
"[Trina] took it pretty hard. She was devastated," Vernesa Taylor comments. After the shooting the young girl spent a lot of time in her room listening to Whitney Houston songs and writing in her notebook, her mother recounts. "I told her, 'Trina, you don't need to be listening to this all the time. It will keep you sad. Hollywood would want you to carry on.'"
Trina talked about that period reluctantly while eating fried snapper at the East Coast Fisheries restaurant on the Miami River. Hollywood's death was "a shock," was all she said. Trina dropped her plans to be a hairdresser. In 1997 she took a course in real estate sales.
In 1998 Trick approached her with some lyrics. The song, Trina explains, was intended as a comical riff between a man and a woman. To make it work, Trick needed a woman who could spit words like bullets. He says he immediately considered Trina despite her lack of experience. "She bad, she off the chain," he says.
Lucas agrees. "Nobody else talks like Trina. Nobody else has a slicker mouth than Trina. She was a rapper already and just didn't know it."
Trina listened to a rough tape of "Nann" that Trick had recorded. "We thought it was just comical," she says. "There wasn't nothing to be offended at. That's stuff that happens every day. You hear it, you see it, you are used to it. It was just funny."
The verse that Trina wrote didn't disappoint. The song begins when Trick sends a friend to get Trina's number at a club. Trina declines, saying, "Hell no, I don't wanna holler at no motherfucking Trick/over there all smelling like boonk and shit." Trick then attacks her hubris: "You ain't no nann nigga," meaning: Who do you think you are? Then he lists his virtues. She responds, "Who this Trick think he is? He got me fucked up with someone else." The song is funny. It's also scary. If this passes for flirting, full-fledged love could be lethal.
Trina explains she wrote her verse from "a mix of the life I've lived and the people I've been around. One line is someone I know. Another line is something I saw." She cautions that it is not autobiographical.
Lucas was impressed with the product. "After we did the recording, I was like, 'Damn, we got a star in you; you could put your own album out," Lucas says.
When it comes to the song's overtly sexual nature, Lucas is matter-of-fact. "Look, if we don't say it, somebody else will. She's just keeping it real with what's going on every day in life."
Or, as Trina says: "People just want to be entertained."
As Lucas listened to other tracks from Trick's second album, thug.com, he became increasingly excited. He knew the darkly melodious grooves and Trick's unique percussive delivery would be popular. The big push came during this past January's Super Bowl, when the national press and entertainers such as Puff Daddy and Cher were in Miami. "That weekend everybody worked," Lucas says. The whole Slip 'N Slide family was out there." They carried placards publicizing the album and pushed "Nann" at clubs all over Miami-Dade.
Lucas was trying to attract the attention of a big record company in order to ink a distribution deal. Until then Slip 'N Slide had spent relatively little on things like manufacturing CDs and cassettes. An arrangement with a powerhouse like Sony or Universal would mean national promotion and sales.
The response, Lucas says, was swift. The big boys started calling almost immediately. "Everybody wanted me. I couldn't even sleep. My phone was ringing at three and four o'clock in the morning," he boasts. He adds that recording companies flew him to New York and Los Angeles. They put him up in company apartments and took him out for lavish seafood dinners. Eventually he signed with Atlantic Records. "People came with more money than Atlantic, but with Atlantic we got control to do what we want to do," Lucas comments. "Other people wanted control over us." Lucas declines to give the dollar value of the contract.
Michael Caren is the senior director of A&R (artists and repertoire) for Atlantic Records. He recalls hearing thug.com, then checking out Slip 'N Slide's past efforts. "We looked at what Ted Lucas and Slip 'N Slide had been able to achieve in the past. They were true entrepreneurs, using ingenious marketing and promotion efforts as well as understanding the demand of the streets."