If at first glance Trinidad James strikes you as odd, you're probably right. There's little about his ascent on Hip-Hop that's familiar. His fashion is unconventional, he began rapping less than a year ago, and he isn't easily compared to anyone in the game.
In the last week, he performed with 2 Chainz, spent countless hours in the studio, and performed for a sold out crowd in NYC. Even Kevin Liles, Trey Songz and Busta Rhymes were on hand to witness the thousand megawatt performance, which included A$AP Rocky as guest (check out what illseed said), frequent mentions of Molly, and crowd surfing.
In the midst of all of this he caught up with AllHipHop.com to dish on how staying true to himself - and "giving no f*cks" - resulted in what's shaping up to be his breakout year in music, led by his single "All Gold Everything":
AllHipHop.com: People may be surprised to learn you just began rapping less than a year ago. Has the success of "All Gold Everything" and your mixtape, Don’t Be S.A.F.E, been surprising for you?
Trinidad James: No, because music is about how hard you dedicate yourself to it. If you know how to do it and it lives in you, you just create the art and hope for more favorable opinions than unfavorable opinions. That's what makes you a successful artist. There are people who don't like Kanye and Jay-Z, but what makes them successful is there are more people that like them than those who don't.
AllHipHop.com: How did you find yourself artistically in such a short time span?
Trinidad James: I’m used to being myself, so I incorporated who I was into my music. What people hear in my music is an extension of my life.
AllHipHop.com: Are you a new artist who is hands on in all areas of your career?
Trinidad James: As it relates to business ventures, my team knows the things that I’m interested and will consult me about those opportunities. Otherwise, I let them handle the day-to-day business because that’s what they do. I do everything pertaining to creating and writing the music.
AllHipHop.com: Has there been a particular artist who has inspired you, or who you would like to model your career after?
Trinidad James: No. I just want my own legacy. But I listened to everything from old school to Hip-Hop. For me, it's not about the artist; it's about the music.
AllHipHop.com:Don’t Be S.A.F.E has generated a great deal of buzz; briefly walk me through the creative process of putting this project together.
Trinidad James: It is an introduction to Trinidad James, so I made it short and to the point. Listeners will learn that I’m a hustler, and I’ve been hustler my whole life. It speaks to real life situations. For example, on “Females Welcomed”, I rap about female troubles, and every guy has had those. And, then it smoothes out and reveals what type of person I am - where I’m from, what I’m into, what I ain’t gon' for, what type of females I deal with, my dreams, and the drugs I like to do when it's time to party. The realest song on the mixtape is "Giving No F*cks", and it’s a good representation of the attitude that I have about my music and style.
AllHipHop.com: I understand the idea of not giving a f*ck, but what does that mean in action for you?
Trinidad James: Basically, it’s me doing me. I believe actions speak louder than words. So I’ve been saying I don’t give a f*ck and proved it in action by putting together Don’t Be S.A.F.E, without pulling any of the music industry strings I could have. Instead, I got all the beats for free, I recorded the songs in the house with an unknown engineer, and put it out there for the world to hear. I’ve never asked anyone for sh*t. I ain’t ever going to.
AllHipHop.com: "All Gold Everything" has been the standout record for you. Were you involved in creating the visual for the record?
Trinidad James: Yes, that was my treatment and my boys at Motion Family were able to understand where I was coming from and helped me bring the visual to life.
AllHipHop.com: You’ve had a lot of success in so little time. What do you think people gravitate toward most about you?
Trinidad James: My voice isn’t a voice you would typically hear on the radio. Visually, I am not the type of n*gga you would see on TV. So when it’s packaged all together, people are like, “I don’t know if I like him.” But sonically it feels good to them, so people give me a chance.
AllHipHop.com: Your fashion is certainly in a lane of its own. How would you describe your style?
Trinidad James: Giving no f*cks. Again, actions speak louder than words. I have crooked teeth and one gold tooth. I don’t comb my hair. I don’t give a sh*t.
AllHipHop.com: "All Gold Everything" has 1.7 million views on YouTube; the mixtape downloads are on the upswing. I would imagine labels are approaching you about rocking with them. What are some requirements that must be in the contract before you sign on the dotted line?
Trinidad James: Honestly, I’m not even thinking about signing. I appreciate all the meetings, and I can’t say that I haven’t met with labels because I have. People have seen it on Instagram. But, in general, when you're doing something right, people are going to find you. And me being the person I am, I like to meet new people so, of course, I took meetings with labels. I wanted to see what was on their minds.
AllHipHop.com: What is Gold Gang?
Trinidad James: Gold Gang is a mentality. It’s about waking up in the morning and wanting to be in first place. I always want to conquer something when I wake up, and Gold Gang is about doing it successfully.
AllHipHop.com: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Trinidad James: That I’m a regular guy. I just look weird.
AllHipHop.com: Dream collaboration?
Trinidad James: Adele, Adele, Adele.
Follow Trinidad James on Twitter (@TrinidadJamesGG).