TrigNO: North Side Savior
It was after the first of the year, and the ground was covered in three day old snow. The sun filtered through a thick layer of grey clouds that seemingly hung over the city all winter, casting a soft glow over everything it touched. He was late. I huddled in my car listening to “Bonafide,” track number four off his latest album, “Rawest4m,” a collaboration with producer Sean Starks. His sound is haunting. I can feel every word tightening around me. I become enveloped, visualizing his process. Pen to paper.
An SUV pulled up to 1843 E Hudson Street, and TrigNO got out of the passenger side. He thanks the driver, before it speeds off. We stood in an empty lot beside a Day-Care. Towering above us stood a bright yellow building in the middle of a gray landscape. Someone tried to paint over the abandoned with happy, but it’s dingey demeanor remained. It stood alone, with windows boarded up— the sign labeled the building as the “Hudson Street Market.”
TrigNO was reserved. In his music, he was forthright. Honest. In person, he placed his hands in his pockets, his eyes aimed at the ground. I asked the significance of this location, and he smiled, recalling walking there as a kid from his parent’s house. He pointed to the farthest corner of the empty lot, “They live just right over there.” We began to talk for a bit, my camera slung around my shoulder. I wanted to paint him with the very landscape that had so formatively impacted him. I double-exposed the cracked cement his feet had tracked over for years with a January sunlit portrait. The cold was biting at our cheeks, turning the tips of our noses red. I asked him to dance, and he began to trace circles in the snow with his feet— his hands moving towards the sun. He was lost in rhythm, yet remained attentive of every single movement. Every bend of the knee and slide in his step had a facial expression to match. I held my camera and watched.
The few hours I spent with TrigNO was void of time. We were floating in his territory, guided by his words. “I can’t seem to escape the North Side,” he said after a story of his five month escapade in LA. I offer to drive him to his Momma’s house, he was going to walk. “I walk everywhere,” he says. I pull up to the one story brick house, and he thanks me for my time, apologizing again for being late. I watched him climb up the walkway towards the front door and I visualize the photograph before it materializes. I call out to him for one last frame. He asks to sit on the sinking chain link fence that guards the perimeter, I nod. I snap a few photographs of him in front of his childhood home, and he points to the garages down the street. “See those?” he asks. I nod again. “That’s where the Columbus snow plows are. My mom used to tell me we were the most important in the city, because our road was always plowed first.” He’s looking down and smiling again.
The moment felt big. Bigger than anything I’ve ever captured with my lens. The sun shone down on TrigNO, casting a halo above his twists and the rooftop of his childhood home, and I imagine that this is the feeling you get in those churches; the kind with the big beautiful stained glass windows painting the walls bright blues, reds and yellows, and someone is playing the organ. Sound fills the space, climbing up the walls and crashing into the vaulted ceiling. It fills your lungs next, and you feel a calmness wash over you. You close your eyes, because even on the coldest day in January, TrigNO felt like the sun.