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Trick Trick is 'Uncovered' on FX hip-hop docuseries

Detroit rapper featured alongside other underground kingmakers in new series, debuting Friday

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

He's not the biggest star in the city, and he was never meant to be. But he's one of the most important players in Detroit's hip-hop community, and he's now getting his due.

Trick Trick is one of the subjects of "Hip Hop Uncovered," a six-part docuseries debuting Friday night on FX. In it, the notorious Detroit rapper is profiled alongside a handful of other underground, behind-the-scenes movers and shakers — Eugene "Big U" Henley, James “Bimmy” Antney, Debra "Aunt Deb" Antney and Jacques "Haitian Jack" Agnant — whose connection to the streets has kept hip-hop close to its roots and has helped prop up the superstars who keep the culture moving forward.

Christian "Trick Trick" Mathis is featured in the FX docuseries "Hip Hop Uncovered."

Trick's story, from his troubled childhood and his incarceration on first-degree murder charges (his 2004 case was dismissed) to his work with Eminem and his infamous "No Fly Zone" policy for out-of-town rappers visiting Detroit, is woven throughout the series. Trick's family members — including his wife, brother, sister, cousin and parents — are interviewed on camera, as well as high-profile hip-hop figures such as Dr. Dre, Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, Royce da 5'9" and Wiz Khalifa, who weigh in on the culture and the importance of these background string pullers. 

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Trick, real name Christian Mathis, is known as a prominent figure in Detroit rap, alternately its mayor, its Godfather (think Don Corleone) and its Boogeyman. He was approached several years ago to appear in "Hip Hop Uncovered" by Henley, who also came up with the series' concept and acted as its executive producer. Since Henley is a longtime associate, "it was an automatic green light from me," says Trick, on the phone from Los Angeles on Wednesday. 

In the series, Trick is filmed in several Detroit locations, including downtown's former Michigan Theater, where he narrates his tale in the animated style of a profane preacher. He discusses selling crack on Seven Mile as a teenager, his early days in rap with DeShaun "Proof" Holton and his attempt to commit suicide when he was 12 by overdosing on pills, a topic he's never before discussed on camera. 

"Doing those interviews, I felt like I was being counseled," says Trick, a 47-year-old father of four. "I found comfort in the conversations, because I felt I got some things off my back."

Trick Trick, aka Christian Mathis, works with Detroit Phoenix Center founder and CEO Courtney Smith and others as they hand out gifts in December 2020 at a DPC event to help those homeless or living in poverty. The hip-hop artist will be narrating his own story for the FX series 'Hip Hop Uncovered."

Other topics — including the 2014 incident in which a human blockade headed by Trick halted an appearance by Miami rapper Rick Ross at Chene Park — are discussed by others, not Trick himself.

"It's gone, it's the past, I let it be where it's at," he says of the event, which made his "No Fly Zone" guidelines — in short, visiting rappers are, well, encouraged to reach out to Trick before stepping foot in Detroit — national news. "I don't like to dwell on those incidents because I'm not the type of person that's trying to blow up off of an altercation I had with somebody. That's stupid."

Trick was "honored" to be a part of "Hip Hop Uncovered," he says, and he wants others to feel inspired after watching the series. 

"I hope people get out of it that no matter what you go through in this life, you can rise," he says. "Hip-hop is a culture of survivalists, people who survived poverty, mental illness, the ghetto. No matter how they look at you, no matter how they talk about you, it's not about that, it's about what you want to do. The Most High gave you life, you've got a mind to make decisions, you've got a mind to go forward. Forward only." 

These days Trick Trick is moving forward, working on a new album ("Elem Elem" is due out soon) and a new movie ("The Last 24"), and he continues to work in the city's trenches, helping out everyday Detroiters where and how he can in the manner he knows best: in the shadows. 

He's also eating clean: He's been a vegetarian for five years and a vegan for three, meaning he doesn't consume any animal products whatsoever.

"However, I still wear alligator shoes," Trick says, letting out a hearty laugh. "It's the Detroit in me." 

'Hip Hop Uncovered'

TV-MA

9 p.m. Friday on FX

Episodes premiere on Hulu the day after they air on FX

agraham@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @grahamorama