Trina: Life in Marvelous Times

Leave it to Miami’s own Trina to christen herself a “Million Dollar Girl” in the midst of a recession. Talk about nerve. No surprise, since the sassy rap diva has been a firecracker since she emerged on the rap scene in 1999 with rapper Trick Daddy. Since her “Nann” days, Trina has managed to gain a loyal fan base and remain relevant for over ten years, which is no easy feat in the ever-fickle music industry. Four albums later, the Slip-n-Slide Records princess readies her fifth release Amazin’ (May 4th) as well as her newest roles as a VH1 reality TV star and cosmetics mogul. Here Trina speaks to about Lady Gaga, working with Diddy and why 2010 (so far) has been her best year ever! Between your single Million Dollar Girl’s success, cross-promotion of Ciroc and your appearance on Luda’s “My Chick Bad” remix, 2010 has started off nice for you. Tell us about your new album Amazin’, your Vh1 reality show and your fragrance, cosmetic and sunglasses lines.

Trina: My album Amazin’ (in stores May 4th) is my baby. Monica is on the album twice. I worked with Lyfe Jennings, Keri Hilson, Diddy, Nicki Minaj, Lady Saw, Flo-Rida, Ross and Lil Wayne. My cosmetics line is lip wear and eyelashes and it’s a fun thing because I’m a girly girl. It [Amazin’ Cosmetics] wasn’t always in the works, [but] when the offer presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity. The cosmetic line drops in May. It’s affordable and aimed at anyone who loves Trina and wants to be a part of what I’m about. My fragrance, Diamond Princess, was already in the works but I recently re-did the scent and packaging. The sunglasses collection was the last thing presented to me. I thought, “I love wearing shades, so why not?” So I saw them and glammed them up! Both the sunglasses and fragrance will drop fall 2010. Also, my reality show, The Baddest Chick, debuts on Vh1 very soon. It’s not your typical reality show; it shows me working with my business ventures and my artists [Pretty Money] plus my family. Family is so important to me, regardless of material success. Your track record is as follows: 10 years in the game, loyal fan base, have worked with Diddy & Missy Elliot and you cross-promote Ciroc liquor, your reality show and product lines. But do you ever still feel like fans and critics still don’t give you your full props?

Trina: Sometimes, but it’s part of the territory. Even with the opportunities and projects that come my way you still have some people who are unsure. For those that are supportive of my journey I’m so appreciative for that. Maybe those that aren’t sold will eventually jump on the bandwagon. I’m so happy with who I am. I’m living my dream and I’m content with who I am. I’m confident and believe that my fans that have supported me all this time, they see the growth and the woman I’ve become. So many things have come my way that may have never come five years ago. But five years ago I probably wouldn’t have been ready to be in control, be a CEO of a company and represent these opportunities as well as I can. Sometimes, I think, ‘this can be so political’ but it is what it is. I’m so blessed and thankful for everything. I’m happy to be in a position to have a fifth album. Who are your Top 5 Rappers Dead or Alive?

Trina: Jay-Z, Wayne, Trick Daddy, Rick Ross and Biggie. I love Biggie; I grew up on Biggie. I got into Versace because of him. (Laughs) 2008”s Still Da Baddest debuted #1 on Billboard Rap’s chart but was your lowest-selling album, despite being critically-acclaimed. Based on that, is your game plan different for your new album Amazin’?

Trina: This album challenges me, where I’m singing, there’s live instrumentation, different things. People don’t realize that when you’re on a label, they control most of the project. This time I had creative control of the album and this brought out the best in me. Amazin’ is a little different but I’m still Trina the person and that never changes. You just grow. I’m not the same person I was five years ago or ten years ago because I’ve experienced different things. Amazin’ is diverse. Those that have grown with me will understand how I’ve grown on this album. It’s easy to craft a hip-hop record in the studio but not as easy to do a cross-over record or a record where you challenge yourself.

I told the producers, ‘I don’t want you to send me a record you think is ‘for Trina. I want to you to send me a record that you think I would never do.’ Everybody wants to do the “Pull Over”, the “Naan” and those records were fun but I’m at a different phase of my life. I turned down so many records because they were the same records from ten years ago that were still stuck in the ‘Trina Zone.’ With Amazin’ I worked with producers that understood my growth and wanted to see me in a different, esteemed light. I did the “Million Dollar Girl” record with Keri Hilson in mind but never imagined Diddy on the record. I gave it to Keri [Hilson] and somehow Diddy heard it. He loved it! I came back from overseas and heard the finished record and Diddy’s vocals were on there. I was excited. Diddy is the most amazing person I have ever collaborated with. He was calm, respectful and the video was a dream come true. People don’t understand how hard you work and how much you have to prove yourself. I’m talking about Amazin’ so much, but it’s just how I feel! I’m happy with the end result. How did your Lady Gaga record come about? Is that a new direction you’re headed in?

Trina: The Lady Gaga record was a song she wrote instead of a collabo. She was working with Jim Jonsin (produced Trina’s “Here We Go”, feat. Kelly Rowland) and the record was originally for her project. When they did the record Jim called my manager and said, “I have the perfect record for Trina.” This was before she [Lady Gaga] blew up, so I’m like, “Wait, who’s Lady Gaga?” Jim’s like, “She’s a pop singer who’s gonna be huge.” I flew to Miami and I didn’t even care who she was; I loved the record. I immediately got in the studio, started writing my verse and it brought out the best in me. I’m so proud of this record because I was able to do something different and fun and I challenged myself to take a risk. You came into the game humble yet confident and you tend to build relationships instead of burn bridges with your rap peers, especially females. Is this a business move for Trina the rapper or just how Katrina, the person, truly is?

Trina: Whether it’s my friends from growing up or people I’ve met in the industry, that’s just how I am. Everybody I met in the industry embraced me from Lil’ Kim to Missy to Eve and Mary J. Blige, everybody. I always show that friendly side to women because I know how hard it is. Just to be a woman in this game, [because it is so male-dominated] it’s a fight, so we need to support each other. It’s a beautiful thing to have these relationships and be able to call other people and appear on each other’s projects. To have been doing it for over ten years, it’s a blessing.

"We don’t feed into gossip blogs and what rumors are being spread… We have a pact where we uplift each other and that’s what keeps my circle so strong."

-Trina Speaking of making calls and calling shots, you now can add mogul to your list of accomplishments. What’s it like mentoring your rap/R&B group Pretty Money?

Trina: It’s exciting because Pretty Money is a girl movement of about five girls, two of them sing and about three of them rap. My company, DP Entertainment, will put out Pretty Money. It’s insane the records we’ve put together! They remind me of myself when I was first on the road doing shows with Trick (Daddy) where I was like a firecracker onstage; so ready, every show to perform. Pretty Money is young, humble, they work hard and they go hard. For Pretty Money to admire and respect me, it’s a beautiful thing. They learn from me and it’s like a big family. Overall, I’m just trying to build my empire and re-invent my brand. Who are your Top 5 Rappers Dead or Alive?

Trina: Jay-Z, Wayne, Trick Daddy, Rick Ross and Biggie. I love Biggie; I grew up on Biggie. I got into Versace because of him. (Laughs) On your twitter account, TRINA ROCKSTARR you often quote the inspirational website, The Daily Love. How important is staying stress-free to you?

Trina:  Dealing with stress is very important. Maston Kipp (Founder of The Daily Love) is a personal friend of mine and I’ve known him for many years. It [stress] doesn’t go away. The people I keep in my circle, they uplift me. We don’t feed into gossip blogs and what rumors are being spread… We have a pact where we uplift each other and that’s what keeps my circle so strong. It’s so much stuff out here that will corrupt your confidence and I work too hard for that, so I block it out. I’m anti-negative. (Laughs)