Träma Ward

A New Yorker in Minnesota raps his contradictions, invites guests

The first American-born child of a Trinidadian family, Träma grew up in "the Hurst," or East Elmhurst in Queens, where his graffiti tags were MASTER and DEVELOPE, joining his first cipher at age 13. Today he has an eight-month-old son of his own (whom he celebrates in "Havin a Seed") with his fiancée of Ethiopian descent (her favorite songs, he says, are "Hip-Hop Means" and the Stetsasonic-quoting "Africa"). Träma recorded The Ugly Album shortly before moving to Chicago for four months to edit a new documentary about New York guerrilla artist Stuart Ross, The Survival of the Wildebeest, and he says he could sit on his editing money.

But there's more at stake than his own comfort when it comes to the success of his lyrical fantasies, and of the new release he celebrates on Friday with Sadat X at the Fine Line. Träma's dreams extend to those around him. He says he's seen two friends go to federal prison, and two others die. "I'm not just doing this for me," he says. "I have my whole crew. I can give my friends some jobs so they can stop selling crack, and get off that corner."

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