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Tricky StewartA musical genius with no musical identity sounds like a contradictory statement, but it personifies phenom producer Tricky Stewart. Tricky is one of those rarities whose music seamlessly morphs across genres, cultures and styles; there truly is no signature sound, he is able to do it all, expertly. "When I am working with an artist I come into the studio without a musical identity. Therefore what we create is authentic. Most people go in with a preconceived idea and they end up recycling that same old sound," Tricky explains. "I like to find out what the music inside the artist's head sounds like." His explanation is simple enough, but the concept is one that only the musically gifted can aspire to.
Born Christopher Stewart in Markham, Illinois, Tricky was the product of a richly musical environment. His parents were former artists and continued teaching music throughout his life. Older brother Laney was a well-respected producer and even his extended family had strong ties in the music industry. Although his nickname was derived from his prowess on the football field, Tricky was playing guitar and keyboards and even writing songs by age twelve. His older brother Laney introduced him to his first musical mentor the late Louil Silas Jr. Silas immediately recognized Tricky's talent and gave the young producer a life-changing opportunity to contribute on several major projects. With Silas's coaching, Tricky snagged song placements with notables like Aaron Hall, Rhythm and Blues trio Immature and Rhythm and Blues songbird Chante Moore, all before he graduated high school. "The Chante Moore album opened a lot of doors. It really established me in the business and made people start taking me seriously as a producer."
Shortly thereafter Tricky met L.A. Reid, who offered him a deal to move his production company to Atlanta. "L.A. has had a huge impact on my career; in the beginning he introduced me to ownership. He allowed me to pay him back so that I could own my own studio," Tricky says. Subsequently Tricky opened Red Zone Entertainment with his brothers Laney and Mark. The success continued rolling in, and in 1999, Tricky co-wrote 'Who Dat' for JT Money. The song quickly became one of the biggest rap songs that year and catapulted Red Zone to the top of the southern hip hop radar a place that until this record was unfamiliar territory. The label acquired Rhythm and Blues crooner Sam Salter and rap vixen Sole and began mapping out careers for their talented roster. Tricky continued working with mainstream artists producing hits for pop icon Britney Spears, teen idol group B2K and writing "Case of the Ex" especially for Mya when the songstress needed music to exhibit her growth as a woman without alienating her audience. Around that time Tricky signed femme fatale Blu Cantrell and served as executive producer on her debut album.
Since then Tricky's discography has grown exponentially with collaborations with some of most talented artists in the world. In 2007 he co-wrote the instant hit 'Umbrella' for DefJam princess Rihanna. "I think the sky is the limit for that song," he says proudly. He has also been tapped to work on upcoming albums for Britney Spears and Usher. "I love working on albums with artists that are real artists. Often new artists don't have that swagger and confidence as an established artist like Usher or Britney. You can really push the musical stratosphere with those artists," he says. While he admits enjoying the big names, Tricky says he is at his best when he is already a fan of the artist. Currently his schedule includes Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls), Usher, Brit and Alex, Vawn and DefJam's newest addition and Tricky's writing partner songwriter/artist Dream. "I want fifteen top five hits in the next years," he says confidently, "and I'll get them." He strongly believes in striving to hit a mark somewhere above other's expectations. "I always feel pressure. I still get nervous before every project, like an athlete before a game," he admits.
Besides producing, Tricky is looking to expand the Red Zone brand out of the music spectrum. "I think we are one of the only companies that is really poised to take things to that next level. Our leadership has been a team for over seventeen years, that is almost unheard of in this industry or any business for that matter," Tricky says.
As Red Zone Entertainment prepares to expand into TV and film production and a schedule full of promising projects on his plate, Tricky is optimistic about the future of the company he started with his two brothers and sister-in-law. Years ago he came up with the moniker RedZone, likening his competitive nature musically to his love and respect for the game of football. His philosophy was to score a touchdown, or in his case a musical hit on every trip to the RedZone. Thus far Tricky has proved himself an invaluable MVP on numerous projects associated with some of the biggest superstars in music.
His drive to create his own definition of success, coupled with his innate musical intuition and creativity will no doubt place the name Tricky Stewart along with the Red Zone insignia at the top of many accolade lists in music and beyond.