And Finally Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #69: Beyonce v Tricky

By | Published on Friday 1 July 2011


Last weekend’s Glastonbury Festival reached its climax on Sunday night with a headline performance from Beyonce. There was much anticipation for the show, and the talk both on and off site as it drew closer revolved around what she might pull out of the bag.

Clearly she’d have some guests, but who? Jay-Z, definitely. And Chris Martin. Maybe even her former Destiny’s Child bandmates. Who know, she might even convince Lady Gaga to fly in for a rendition of ‘Video Phone’ and/or ‘Telephone’.

When Ms Knowles’ first two songs were the big hits ‘Crazy In Love’ and ‘Single Ladies’, the expectation grew yet further. How would she top that? Who would join her on stage?

Then the moment came. “I want you all to welcome my special guest”, she said as the opening bars of ‘Baby Boy’ rang out. “His name…” Yes? “Is none other than…” Yes?! “Tricky”. Oh.

I mean, don’t get me wrong; I like Tricky. I like Tricky a lot. But if I had to write a list of people I thought would be the only guest to appear on stage with Beyonce as she headlined Glastonbury, Tricky wouldn’t have been on it. Not unless it was near the end of a really, really long list and I’d started just writing down any name I could think of. He’s not an obvious choice, is he?

Still, if he’d stormed it, it could have been quite a moment. But he didn’t. He muttered a few of the lyrics along with Beyonce, jiggled about a bit, and then disappeared to let the pre-recorded voice of Sean Paul handle the actual rap section of the song.

Where did he go? That’s what everyone wanted to know. There was much speculation on the internet, with guesses growing ever more unlikely. He’d got stage fright. He couldn’t handle having Beyonce dancing near him. He wet himself.

But there’s another theory. And it’s a delightfully simple conspiracy theory. It turns out that ahead of Beyonce’s husband Jay-Z’s Glastonbury headline slot three years ago, Tricky made some negative comments in an interview with Canadian newspaper The National Post.

Asked what he thought about the controversy around Jay-Z headlining the festival, Tricky said: “I can understand in some ways, because an American artist headlining Glastonbury is probably a bit weird for people. And the fact that it’s an urban artist – and he’s not actually that good. If it was like, Public Enemy or Rakim, you might get away with it, because Rakim’s an extreme talent, and Public Enemy changed the face of music. People in England would probably relate to that more”.

He continued: “But the ‘bling-bling, I’m God’ sort of bullshit, English people ain’t into that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets bottles thrown at him, to be honest with you. Kids in England ain’t into that. It’s going to be him on stage talking about himself for an hour, and how cool he is, and how great he is, and how he’s the best thing since sliced bread and how good he looks and shit. People really ain’t into that shit. Not for a headliner at Glastonbury”.

Now, let’s ignore the fact that Tricky thought that Public Enemy or Rakim, great as they are, could have headlined Glastonbury in 2008. Let’s instead agree that those are some strong words. Words that maybe came to the attention of Mr and Mrs Z, who, when the latter bagged the same slot three years later, hatched a plot to get their revenge on the pesky Bristolian. It seems so obvious now. That’s probably the only reason Beyonce wanted to play Glastonbury.

But, come on, let’s think about this for a second. Of all the people to get revenge on for being down on Jay-Z’s Glastonbury show, why would you pick Tricky? It’s not like he was the only doubter – the ringleader, of course, was Noel Gallagher. And surely Jay-Z opening his set with ‘Wonderwall’ did the job in terms of addressing all that.

And if you want to get revenge on someone for comments very few people were even aware of, why would Beyonce choose to do it in a way that could damage a show she was clearly very excited about? How would she even ensure that Tricky looked bad? All she did was invite him on stage and let him sing, it’s not like she tripped him up and pulled his pants over his head, or anything.

Actually, watching it back again, there are no signs of stage fright and he’s dancing towards Beyonce as he sings. Then, when Sean Paul’s vocal comes in, he walks off like he’s done all he was supposed to. OK, it’s still strange, but the re-telling of it as a fear-gripped man freaking out and then storming off stage doesn’t appear correct at all. How boring.