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Photo of New York rapper and producer Trife Diesel.
Trife Diesel (Photo: Supplied)

Interview: Q&A

Trife Diesel talks growing up in Shaolin, working with Ghostface Killah, 780, Theodore Unit & more

This man doesn’t need much of an introduction if you’re a Wu-baby from my era. Theo Bailey, better known as Trife Diesel or Trife Da God, has been touring the planet as Ghostface Killah’s right hand man, collaborator, and everything in between since the early 2000’s.

Trife has been active for years and is still releasing new music on a steady basis. His latest album is a collaboration with producer DJ M80 called 780. It dropped late 2018 and featured Iesha Green, Recognize Ali, Kastro, Sandra Faye, and L-Biz. A few months before that, he released Project Pope II with support from members of Wu, Fred the Godson, Termanology, and more. More recently, he appeared on Inspectah Deck’s Chamber No. 9 project (“Fire”) which came out earlier this year.

I sat with “New York’s Backbone” to build on everything from his legendary verse on “Biscuits” (a single off GFK’s The Pretty Toney Album) to the pressures of coming up in Stapleton Projects when Wu were literally on top of the world. Check out the Q&A with Trife below.

Trife Diesel talks growing up in Shaolin, working with Ghostface Killah, 780, Theodore Unit and more


Q&A: Trife Diesel

HipHopCanada: How did you and Ghost first link? Family ties or was it a neighbourhood thing?

Trife Diesel: Ghost and I linked because we’re from the same neighborhood. He lived in the building adjacent from mine. His little brother and I were best friends so you can say it’s like a family thing as well.

HipHopCanada: What was it like growing up in Shaolin? To us up here in Canada, cats worship Wu coast-to-coast and that isn’t embellishing. Those must have been some big shoes to fill coming out of Staten Island in the 90’s considering the precedent the Wu set in that era. That being said, something tells me pressure isn’t an issue for you. Is that a fair statement?

TD: Growing up in Shaolin is pretty much like any and every other urban neighborhood in a largely populated city. You got your middle class working families, drug abusers, drug dealers, murderers etc. Yeah that’s pretty much a fair statement. It’s more like a test of skill, steal sharpens steal in a way. It’s been an honor to work with not only Ghost but as well as other members from the legendary group Wu-Tang.

HipHopCanada: Having Ghost as a mentor must have been a gift from God. That being said, in your opinion have you ever felt the “Memph Bleek effect” has been detrimental in any way to your solo career?

TD: Not at all because I feel I held my own throughout the years and my dedicated fans know that I’m official when it’s comes to writing and creating music. Truth be told, a person or mentor can only take an individual but so far, it’s up to that person to take his/her career or anything he/she does to the next level, which I’m currently doing right now.

HipHopCanada: What ever became of Theodore Unit? Can we expect a follow up project at any point? Your verse on “The Drummer” is the hardest verse on that whole project. This was around the time G-Unit and Dipset were really popping with the mainstream shit… Theodore held it down for the heads during that whole era. What was/is your role in Theodore, and I’m assuming it was named after your government name?

TD: It’s always gonna be Theodore Unit life. We’re all brothers that’s on different paths at this moment in life. We all got up with each other not too long ago and the love and respect was still there. Thanks, I appreciate that and honestly “The Drummer” is one of my favorites songs on the 718 album besides “Punch In, Punch Out.”

My role in the Unit was just as important as any other member in the group which was to come with real, witty and crafty lyricism. Theodore derived from the term Thinkers and Doers it’s just coincidental that it’s also my government name.

“Spark the fluid, hop out and Park the Buick, I got fiends blowing cream like Martha Stewart” – Trife Da God on “The Drummer”

HipHopCanada: Who produced “The Drummer” with Ghost, Meth and Streetlife? I feel like that song should have had more legs and didn’t get its just due. Whoever flipped that sample is also a fucking genius. While on on the production tip, who produced “Fire” from Put It On The Line? Again, brilliant beat, concept and bars of course. Also, I saw you been messing with the MPC on the Gram recently, can we expect to hear some Trife production anytime soon?

TD: Truth be told, I really don’t know who produced “The Drummer” because that song was originally for Method Man’s album at that time. We recorded it in Miami at Circle House studios. Everybody that you hear on the song was in the studio at the same time so maybe that’s why the song has an organic feel to it.

If I’m not mistaken, “Fire” was produced by a very talented producer name Moss and the concept came about because that’s how the beat was setup so I ran with what it was saying. Indeed, I’m experimenting on the producer side of things. My partner and I agreed on just building our own studio and I figured why not dabble in producing my own beats so that’s how I picked up on the MPC. My next album which I’m currently working on will definitely have joints produced by myself so stay in tune.

HipHopCanada: What are your thoughts on Canadian hip-hop? I know we have a bit of a spotlight on us due the Raps big win, Drake mass success, Tory Lanez etc. Is there a Canadian artist you’re feelin’ or one you’d like potentially work with in the future?

TD: I think the Canadian hip-hop scene is pretty dope. I’m not too fond of the underground artist but when I was up there on tour I met some pretty dope spitters. I’ve worked with Lord Fury on the album Moon Crickets. I’m also looking forward to coming back up there to work with many other great artist from up north.

HipHopCanada: Can you touch on your experience touring up north?

TD: Yes, I have toured in Canada with Ghost a few years back. We basically ran through the whole Canada from east to west. I would love to come back and perform some songs off my latest projects on stage and touch my Canadian brothers and sisters. So if you promoters are reading this hit me up and let’s talk numbers. (Laughs)

 
A photo of Trife Diesel wearing a hat and standing in a store.

Trife Diesel

HipHopCanada: Props on the solo by the way, solid project. Can we expect another Trife Diesel solo project anytime soon or maybe a Put It On The Line 2?

TD: Thanks, I appreciate it. Yes, you can expect a Trife Diesel album within the next few months. I’m working on it now. There’s a lot of good production, dope features and ill rhymes.

HipHopCanada: What’s the current label situation? Are you indie or is something in the works?

TD: I don’t have a current label situation. Everything is independent. I started my own company, Bailey Boyz Ent., which my album will be released on. I’m all about building my own brand right now and leaving behind a legacy for my children and their children, so forth and so on.

HipHopCanada: What’s the body of work and or single you’re most proud of? If you had to tell your Canadian fans to check one track or video what would it be?

TD: That’s a good question but truthfully I’m proud of all the work that I’ve put in thus far. So, if I had to tell my Canadian people’s what song or video to check it out I would say check out my whole catalogue, starting back from when I started out on Bulletproof Wallets up until my latest project with my DJ M80 titled 780.

HipHopCanada: I’m sure you get this regularly and not to sound redundant but, I like to ask artists from our era what their thoughts are on the current state of hip-hop? On a scale of 1 to 10, where we at?

TD: I think the current state of hip-hop is just pushing the culture forward. Of course it’s not like the Golden Era when I was growing up but everything changes with time. You still have artist out today that still respect the craft and listeners who still check for them type of artist. I think that artist are more free and have more creative space when putting out music in today’s hip-hop because we’re living in the digital age where your social media dictates the demographics of the culture. So, on a scale of 1-10, I would say it’s about a 7.

HipHopCanada: What’s in your deck right now?

TD: Well today I’m listening to Michael Jackson but I listen to a wide variation of music especially since I’ve started making and producing beats. I listen to J. Cole, Nas, Jay, Fab, Benny The Butcher, myself and a few songs that the radio plays.

HipHopCanada: Have you ever considered entering a battle platform such as URL or KOTD? I feel like you could have a huge impact on that culture providing it was something that interested you.

TD: I’m not a battle rapper so I don’t think I’ll venture off into that realm but I definitely like the culture. I can watch battle rap for hours on YouTube. I’m a big fan of it, I think as it continues to progress it will only get bigger and bigger in the future. Much respect to KOTD and all the nice battle rappers out there.

HipHopCanada: What are you working on at the moment?

TD: I’m working on a new album which is untitled at the moment. I’m working on production, engineering and just creating my signature sound. And like I said earlier building my company Bailey Boyz Ent.

HipHopCanada: Where can the people buy and stream your music?

TD: Y’all can go to TrifeDiesel.com to purchase all physical copies of all my albums. I have merch up there as well, limited edition tee’s. Also you can find me on all streaming platforms from Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and wherever else you guys listen to music. Peace and Love Canada, see y’all real soon. Also follow me on all social media.

You can follow @Trifecta718 on Instagram.


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Uncle Buck is a member of the HipHopCanada Content Team and based in Atlantic Canada.

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