The Lady Tigra

Read the Remix "Frequencies" piece on the Lady Tigra. Formerly of the late-''80s duo L'Trimm, Lady Tigra and studio partner Jacob “Berko” Bercovici discuss bringing back an updated version of Tigra's original booty bass after a 20-year hiatus.
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Since the '80s, Miami and factory car-audio systems went together about as well as Milli Vanilli doing an episode of MTV's Unplugged. The 305 has always unearthed crops of local heroes who champion the area's bass-heavy aesthetic — tracks drowning in heart-pounding thumps that set off car alarms up and down the block. Out of that late-'80s subculture came the female duo L'Trimm, who were the predecessors to some of today's get-down girls like M.I.A. and French phenom Uffie. Now a generation later, one half of that duo, known to you mere mortals as the Lady Tigra, is back with her ode to club-inspired party-pop rap, Please Mr. Boombox (High Score, 2008).

“It kind of crept up on me; we never intended to have the songs be released,” Tigra says of the material that would later make up the contents of Please Mr. Boombox. “We were just making songs for kicks.” What began as her and production partner and friend Jacob “Berko” Bercovici making music just for the love of the sounds is now the first project set for release on the newly formed High Score Records. The fun-filled party starter of an LP features collaborations with Linkin Park's Mr. Hahn, who remixes the song “Bass on the Bottom,” and legendary lady rhymer MC Lyte on “They Stole My Radio.” The disc also shows off a cohesive sound that is as original as it is hyped.

“We have a relationship that we understand,” Tigra says of her and Bercovici's tag-team approach. “We get each other. I can say something like, ‘Throw a little more James Brown in that,’ and he'll know exactly what I mean.” Having put it down together for years, the process of cooking up Tigra's first release in, well, a pretty long time had to involve just the right ingredients before it could be served up to hungry party people and booty shakers.

“We started off going through records for samples, but more and more I found myself playing a lot of keys, bass and guitars and using a bunch of old drum machines I had laying around,” Berko says. “We ran everything through Neve 1073s and used a bunch of different microphones for her voice, like an RCA 44-BX and Neumann U 67 and U 87 — all in Pro Tools, of course.

“The records we had access to were truly unique,” Berko continues. “Tigra was interested in getting beyond what was expected of her stylistically and wanted to bring more of her personal tastes into her songs, which meant borrowing from a bunch of genres. My partner has one the biggest and rarest collections of Tahitian and Hawaiian vinyl in the world, and I found it to be a great opportunity to do something different.”

It would be an understatement to say that the two have accomplished their mission. Sure to gain the eclectic MC a fresh stable of new fans who were no more than babies on her first go ‘round, the record doesn't stray too far away from Tigra's Miami bass roots as to alienate old fans who are back for more. As Tigra tells it, the new stuff is just the next chapter of a never-ending story.

“Nobody could have told me 10 years ago that I'd be making an album again,” she admits. “I'm not even sure what to expect from myself. I just don't know. But I can say that I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. I see this project as the evolution of L'Trimm. It's just me 20 years later. I hope that it'll inspire people to keep making music, especially girls. No other genre has married itself to every other genre of music like hip-hop has. With me doing hip-hop, I still use as much of my imagination as possible. I hope this record touches as many people as it can. Maybe it'll even warm up to some country fans. Who knows?”