*Producer Christoper “Tricky” Stewart has been producing some quality hit records since the early 90s and he’s not done yet. Recently Lee Bailey had the chance to chat with the brother about his time in the game, the development of his signature sound and what’s coming up next.
Stewart is the president of RedZone Entertainment, a company responsible for selling 25 million records. Beyonce, Mya, Blu Cantrell and scores more can thank him for some of their hit records. We all have our daily ups and downs at our respective occupations but, according to Tricky, things just keep getting better and better.
“The best thing about it is I get to work with some of the best talent,” said Stewart. “I don’t know if there’s a downside. I don’t even know if there’s a downside. I experienced failure pretty early in my career so I had a lot of what not to do built up.”
Failures devastate the weak, but propel the strong forward. Stewart had success early on in his career then suffered a brief lull in hits. The records were still great, but some would say they lacked that POW factor. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but he’s been doing his thing for 16 years.
“I was kind of prepared for the success this time around and was a bit more organized,” he explained. “I’m actually 36 years old. I’ve been doing this a long time. Some of my first credits were back on Immature’s first album and Chante Moore, Aaron Hall and all that kind of stuff. I go way back with the musical game, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I took it all the same and I just love what I do.”
After having credits on some of the biggest acts of the 90s, Stewart’s successes seemed to taper off. But the past decade has seen him come back like he forgot something. Regarding his brief lack of hit records Tricky tells EURweb.com that he was just trying to help lesser known artists.
“The biggest turning point for me this time around is, after we did ‘Umbrella’ and ‘Suffocate’, and some of Dream’s early works, the biggest difference was that the next best records went out to people who had deals. As a producer you have so many things that you want to do that, whenever I had a hit, the next record that was great I would give to my artists or someone I was trying to get off the ground, versus giving it to somebody who was in a better position. This time around it was a little bit different because I didn’t make that mistake. Those records that I was making actually got a chance to go straight from the studio to the artist.”
In addition to giving his best records to away to established talent Stewart also credits his newer success to teaming up with The Dream, a man he calls his creative soulmate.
“When I found Dream I found somebody who was really, really thinking different on the top line of things, more of a collaborative effort. That’s why we eventually started producing together, sharing credits and all that kind of stuff because our creativity just started flowing from one side to the other. That was the biggest turning point.”
Now that Tricky Stewart is back on a roll it appears as though there is no stopping the brother now. Just take a gander at some of the names he’s been working with as of late.
“I’m always trying to better myself and trying to take things to the next level,” said Stewart. “I’m just trying to be one of the most remembered people in music out of this era in time.”
“We have Jessica Simpson about to release something and everything is coming at the same time. We’ve got T.I. coming with ‘No Mercy,’ we did the title track on that, we have Ciara’s new album, ‘Basic Instinct.’ And Rihanna just dropped and that’s a really, really good album to be a part of as well. It’s looking good over here. I’m just having fun with it.”
Looking good? That appears to be the understatement of the day. Things appear to be looking great. Stewart says he has also had a substantial hand in crafting Michael Jackson’s posthumous release as well. He tells EURweb.com he was in producer heaven.
“Michael’s songs were a little bit different because Michael was making those songs with other producers. I got involved to do additional production but the songs themselves were already written by other people. When you’re working with Michael’s stuff you’re really just trying to live up to the expectations of what he’s already laid out there with his body of work. When I was working on his records I was just trying to do what I thought Michael would have wanted me to do. Sometimes when I was in there working it was like you could feel his presence.”
For a producer, working with Michael Jackson’s creations must be like a painter working with Michaelangelo. One could only imagine what that’s like.
“When you’re working on MIchael’s voice and you can hear it up close and personal, it’s a musical high for a producer. I had plenty of tracks to go through and work through and, on certain songs, you could definitely get an idea of what Michael’s personality is like and what he was looking for with each track.”
Many fans listen to the finished works of the late King of Pop and fall in love with his artistry all over again, for Stewart the experience goes even deeper.
“It was just a really great night,” Stewart continued. “One of the songs that was given to me was from L.A. Reid and may be on the next album, if there is a next album. One night we just got together and decided to listen to all his vocals. And we just sat there in awe of what we were hearing. This guy is singing 40 tracks straight down. This is the real deal, not using Pro Tools, coming in off the first take and singing the song from start to finish 40 times with the same energy. That was incredible.”
Recently critics have come out stating that vocals on the upcoming set were not those of Michael Jackson at all, including members of his own family. Stewart says, plainly, that he doesn’t know what they heck they’re talking about.
“I don’t know what that’s all about. The tracks that I heard, the stuff that I heard was all 100 percent him. I don’t know where that stuff came from. I actually don’t know because the songs that I worked on were clearly Michael Jackson.”
Is this possibly the best year ever for Tricky Stewart? In addition to all of the aforementioned works he is also working on he did some work for “Burlesque”, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. He was invited in very early on in the game to help craft the film’s musical feel.
“On the “Burlesque” album I’m actually the musical consultant, music supervisor or something important like that,” he explained. “I know one thing, when my name comes up on the screen it makes me feel really good that I’m at the front of the film (credits) instead of at the end. I did 5 numbers that are on the album that were all performed in the film. It’s a big deal that I was able to get involved in the film before they even started shooting. We actually locked into the film’s concept really quick, the film company loved it. They went crazy.”
In the film Aguilera sings some classics that were originated by some heavyweight talent. But Stewart says she did very well because of her own considerable vocal abilities.
“She did the records that are classics in a classic fashion. She’s moving around and is really showing her versatility as a vocalist. She has things where she’s singing standard jazz, she has some things that ring a little bit country, she has some things that ring a little bit soul. But the thing that’s holding it together, the glue is her vocals, her tone and how she carries this whole thing makes it all work together in a real way.”
Stewart’s ability to be a chameleon of sorts has helped propel his career to new heights and we look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
If you want to hear some of what’s new from Stewart you can listen to him on Michael Jackson’s new set titled simply “Michael.” The offering will feature the talents of Teddy Riley, Akon, 50 Cent, Lenny Kravitz, Tricky Stewart and many others.
For more on Tricky’s ongoing exploits you can log on to www.trickystewart.com.