trick daddy
Photo via Getty Images

Trick Daddy Tells Us Why Rap Would Be Nothing Without Florida

The Slip-N-Slide legend explains the legacy of South Florida rap and offers a guide to the state’s burgeoning rap scene.
KC
as told to Kristin Corry
Queens, US

In the past year, Florida’s rap scene has been quietly asserting itself as one of rap’s most exciting music scenes in the country. That is not to say that the state doesn’t have a storied legacy, because it does. Over the years, we’ve listened to Uncle Luke, Trick Daddy, and Rick Ross—legends who make us feel the sun and the streets they rap about, no matter where we are. But what makes this particular era in Florida rap feel so promising is that the spotlight isn’t on just one region. The new crop of voices is as geographically diverse as it is musically, and together, they’re only making Florida’s name bigger. 

Advertisement

Jacksonville’s scene is showing much promise, with rappers like SpottemGottem (whose “BeatBox” challenge blew up on TikTok last summer) and BrokeASF offering an animated antidote to Nardo Wick’s sinister slow creep. East Tampa is led by Tae Bae, who is finding mainstream success with his uptempo club music after years as a local legend—followed by rising rapper Taleban Dooda, with his infectious, ammunition-themed single “Chopstix.” Hotboii and Jackboy are heating up Orlando and Broward County with their melody-driven narratives, respectively. And of course, there are the City Girls, who we introduced to you three years ago, representing for Miami. The rap duo is doing so well that “Twerkulator” is already on pace to be  the song of the summer on TikTok—even though it hasn't actually been released, due to clearance issues.

Of course, there is no one better to talk about the state of Florida rap than Trick Daddy, who pushed South Florida to the center of the Southern rap conversation with a string of hit singles like “Nann,” “Take It To da House,” and “Shut Up” in the early aughts. His songs stood out as much for their distinct Miami slang as their battle of the bands-inspired production—paving the way for generations of artists turning to their own neighborhoods for inspiration.

Advertisement

Now, the rap veteran has transitioned to a different role in music: He co-hosts a morning show on Miami’s 99Jamz with his longtime friend and collaborator, Trina, where the duo interview their peers and up-and-coming rappers. Trick Daddy spoke to VICE about how his Miami upbringing shaped the music he made and shared some of the emerging talent he is championing daily.

***

[Growing up in Miami,] my environment was based on survival. My mom had 11 kids. I became the big brother at age five. I became the man of the house at age eight. Words like “babysitter” and “nanny” might as well have been Spanish to me. My mama would say, Lock my door and don’t open it for nobody. It was never, Mama, I want this. It was always, Mama, what else we need? I wanted to tell [people] that story.

Me and Trina grew up in the Pac Jam Teen Disco in the early 80s, so it was a lot different back then. The teen clubs let us be young adults. We were 12 and 13, and the club was closing at 3 or 4 in the morning. We learned to stick together, because we knew at 3 in the morning, all of us had to walk home. Your parents would say, "I’ll trust you." It was about giving us responsibility and seeing how far we took it. We had more opportunities to fuck up, but we also had more opportunities to be whatever we wanted to be in life. 

“Nann,” [which I released in 1999], is the record that really crossed me over [into the mainstream]. Everybody started coming to Miami. They wanted to see what we were living like. They wanted to see why our mentality was the way it was. They wanted to taste that salt water. They thought with us being from Miami, all we had was the drugs and the women. They thought our people revolved around booty shaking, wearing thongs, and strip club music. They didn’t know we had real lyricists.

Advertisement

I wanted to show them what Miami really was. I decided I was going to do music without glorifying selling drugs, but telling them about the drugs and explaining that I’m a product of my environment. 

When you hear us speak, you know where we’re from. We’re multicultural— we got the Cubans, the Haitians, Afro Americans. We are a melting pot. We got Trinidadians, Guyanese, Chinese, Asians. Our story [as Black people] started off as descendants of people who were brought here in a land that was falsely claimed to be discovered by Christopher Columbus—I call him Christopher Colombian, by the way. At the end of the day, our stories started off the same, but it’s going to end differently.

Miami’s legacy goes even to artists outside of hip-hop that’s from Miami—Gloria Estefan, KC and the Sunshine Band, my godmother the late Miss Betty Wright, [Uncle] Luke, even Bobby Shmurda. A lot of people don’t know that. Of course, you have me, Trina, [Rick] Ross, Pitbull. Khaled wasn’t born here, but Khaled is an official Miami nigga, and I don’t care who don’t like that. Outside of that, we have Ball Greezy, Brisco, Mike Smiff, and Rondo Smiff. You got Lil Dred, Iceberg—no disrespect to anybody I may have forgotten. 

But Miami has a lot of dope female rappers, too. You got Hood Brat and the City Girls. Caresha [Yung Miami] is all hood, all real, all ghetto. She’s beautiful and smart, but hood. She knows what it is; she knows what she grew up to and what she likes. Her main thing was she wanted to represent for the women in the streets who couldn’t dream of being a member of the Beyhive. That’s the same way that Trina marketed herself: Everybody could be the baddest bitch

Advertisement

I can go on and on about Florida—not just about Miami. Broward County got Kodak Black and all the little dudes that’s making music out of Broward now, like Jackboy. Them boys in Jacksonville are making real noise. I wish that I could’ve been a part of it in the beginning, but it’s way too far gone now. These dudes have talent. 

If you notice, in all those names I called, don’t nobody sound alike. If a new artist wants to get on my morning show, you need to go out and make some noise. I ain’t talking about sticking his hand in his wallet—I ain’t talking about gunshots. Go out there and do some good music. Sound like yourself. Go out and make some music that will make me tell my boss, If we don’t play this record, we’re going to lose, because everybody is going to play this record. Let’s be the first one to do it. 

Don’t think because I speak to you or have a conversation with you that I’m supposed to give you a feature for free. Don’t think that I’m supposed to sign you because you think you’re the hardest one in Miami. There ain’t no hardest one. Your time can change in 15 minutes. TikTok can change your life. Just keep in mind your second single better be as powerful as your first—if not, you’re considered as a one-hit wonder. Some of us better than most of us, but ain’t none of us better than all of us. 

You have to respect the young generation, but you have to also make them respect you. If the younger generation don’t respect the OGs, the game is worth nothing no more. We need to bring it back to “loving thy neighbor”: You got some good music, I got some good music. If we take it back to that, I think Florida will take over and we’ll prevail.

[But these days, rappers from all over the U.S. are] sounding like us. What they thought was country and tacky is now trendy. They want the gold teeth. They want the nappy dreads. They want the untrimmed beards. The Chevys and the candy paint. They want the girls with the big asses. Welcome to the gunshine state. 

As told to by Kristin Corry. This conversation has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.