By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
By Michele Eve Sandberg
By Abel Folgar
By Ashley Zimmerman
When Katrina Taylor, better-known to the world as Trina, stepped into the hip-hop world in 1998 by appearing on Trick Daddy's highly charged single "Nann Nigga," she took an aggressively male-dominated industry and bitch-slapped it to a pulp. Her verbal bullets on the track wounded Trick, her musical adversary and a fellow South Florida native, with enough precision for the then-19-year-old beautician to leave a lasting impression.
"Nann Nigga" catapulted both Trick Daddy and Trina to a national level, putting Miami on the hip-hop map sans booty bass and 2 Live Crew. The song was hyper-sexualized to the point that it could have made Uncle Luke blush (a little). NC-17 content aside, the single turned Trina's rap hobby into a full-time profession.
"I never really thought of doing music like that; I just did it for fun," she recalls. "At that time, I was studying to get my real estate license. I wasn't interested in doing music — I just wanted to make real money."
Indeed, her passion for making real money was the cornerstone for what set Trina apart from her female counterparts in the music industry. "People forget that this is a business, first and foremost," she advises. "You always need to be on your hustle, never let your guard down. If you see an opportunity, then go after it because those things happen once, twice, if you're lucky."
In Trina's world, both luck and opportunity have graced her in the 12 years since her unintentional rap debut. Since then, Trina has forged herself as a power player in the music industry where her name can easily be placed in the same sentence as female rappers Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown, and Eve.
Trina seems like she's already done it all: with four full-length album releases — including her platinum 2000 debut Da Baddest Bitch — as well as a highly coveted relationship with Lil Wayne when calling him the "Best Rapper Alive" first came into vogue, and, who could forget her starring acting role in the straight-to-DVD black-buster, A Miami Tail, which included the tagline, "We need peace in the streets or no piece in the sheets"? After all that, this year could still be massive by Trina's standards.
"2010 is a big year for me," she says. "It's like failure is not an option at this point in my life. Where I am right now, it's only the beginning... lights, camera, action — I'm ready for you."
At the forefront is the May 4 release of Amazin', her fifth studio album, but with new business ventures, and a new reality show on VH1 called The Baddest Chick that's wrapping up the pilot, Trina has evolved from the raunchy, potty-mouthed, self-proclaimed "baddest bitch" and "diamond princess" of Miami to an internationally known brand name. Talk about an upgrade.
"Trina is more than a rapper — she's a brand," confirms Ted Lucas, longtime friend and CEO of Miami-based Slip-N-Slide Records, Trina's label home. "Trina is at a point in her career where she needs to branch outside of her box and expand her market. This new album, Amazin', is just that — her way of going beyond her comfort zone and trying to reach a whole new audience."
Amazin' boasts a current who's who of the hip-hop industry with appearances by Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Lil Wayne, Monica, and productions by heavyweights like South Florida locals Jim Jonsin and Schife.
"Oh, Trina's still the baddest," says Schife, when asked about working with the rapper. "She's an icon in the hip-hop world. I mean, it was first Lil' Kim and then Trina — no one can touch her status." Age has not affected her swagger in the studio, according to Schife. "You can tell she's a little more toned down but she's older now. She's a mature, classy woman. She's no kid anymore."
The album's first single, "Million Dollar Girl" featuring Sean "Diddy" Combs and Keri Hilson, is raiding hip-hop and pop airwaves with Trina's latest statement of status. "Miami in the morning, be in San Tropez this evening," is one of the song's many boasts brought to life with a personalized Trina private jet as the backdrop of its music video. With Hilson's catchy hook on the chorus, "Million Dollar Girl" might just be Trina's entrée into the mainstream Top 40 lifestyle.
"It was hella nerve-racking — it's Puffy!" Trina says with a laugh, when asked about working with Diddy, one of hip-hop's ultimate brands. "I used to listen to him and Biggie back in the day and here I am, shooting a music video together — it's just crazy!"
More than just eyeing Diddy's status as a musician, Trina took notes from the man himself: "Puffy is like the ultimate business guy, he has so much under his belt — the whole Ciroc thing, the clothing line, the TV shows, the movies. That's where I see myself eventually, building my brand to be able to do all these things and be successful at each one."
Trina isn't far behind. Diamond Princess and Diamond Doll are her two signature fragrances, and her own Trina-fied clothing line, Pink Diamond Couture, features all the necessary velour jumpers and skin-tight emblazoned jeans to give Juicy Couture a run for its money.
"I'm a girly girl," she adds. "I love nothing more than putting on makeup and getting my hair done." It should come as no surprise then that her latest venture is none other than... lip gloss. Yes ladies, the sparkles and sheen and fruity flavor that will make your lips glow is but the first of many ideas for her Be Amazin' Inspired by Trina brand. "I think it's important for a woman to always look good and present herself in a respectable manner," she says. "I want my fans to look classy, not trashy."
Trina understands that beauty has to come from within, first and foremost, and so her nonprofit charity, the Diamond Doll Foundation, focuses on empowering at-risk girls in inner-city Miami. Through her organization, she has held holiday toy drives and mentored young girls in her childhood neighborhood of Liberty City. "That's one thing that I love doing is giving back to my city," Trina says. "I love Miami and Miami gives me so much love. Any chance I can get to give back to my community, I'm there."
So with all the sweetness that's coming out of Trina's life these days, is she still the baddest bitch of Miami? "Am I the baddest chick?" she responds, sheepishly refraining from cursing. "To me, baddest means someone who's strong, a fighter — someone who's fearless. So if that's the case, then yeah, I'm still the baddest, just older and wiser."