Trinidad James Talks New Single, Creativity and Following Your Own Path
Trinidad James has always marched to the beat of his own drum. When his 2012 hit, “All Gold Everything” dropped off his Don't Be S.A.F.E. mixtape, it was obvious hip-hop was witnessing something fresh.
His off-kilter presentation was cool without coming off as deliberately construed (read: corny). The song was catchy, incredibly recitable and ultimately trendsetting in its simplicity. So much so, that three years later, it would be sampled for Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk," which went on to win a Grammy for Record of the Year.
But for all of the maverick tendencies Trinidad displayed with his colorful emergence, he’s yet to release a full-length album. After signing a $2 million deal with Def Jam, who re-released Don't Be S.A.F.E., which included the "All Gold" (Remix) featuring T.I., Young Jeezy and 2 Chainz, he was dropped from the label before he released an official album. And so began the "one hit wonder" grumblings.
Thing is, Trindad could care less. Partly because he's never tied his self-worth to fame, and partly because he understands his path, and knows he's on it.
Born on the island of Trinidad and Tobago and raised in Atlanta, Trinidad's presence in the game has arguably had ripple effects, even without a full album. In 2013, after touring extensively, he teamed with singer August Alsina for "I Luv This S---" and released his follow up mixtape, 10PC Mild. Taking cues from Atlanta's original crew of other-thinking rappers, The Dungeon Family, Trinidad made it commercially cool to be a little weird again. He even released a coffee table book, The Book of James, featuring exclusive photos and motivational quotes.
"If you’re a real artist, that’s what you do anyway - maintain your individuality," says the rapper who also released the No One Is $afe mixtape in 2013.
He's been successfully touring ever since.
"I’ve just been doing me, and doing me is basically showing you who I am, take it or leave it. I’ve never forced it. Either way I'm gonna be successful. That’s always kind of been my take on that and I’ve never strayed," he says.
Trinidad does admit to taking a little time to reflect, however. It's no secret that industry pressures can cause even the most left-leaning artists to conform, searching for previous success levels by any means necessary.
"At times I might’ve gotten confused on [what my path was]," he stated. "But I just paused and waited. I never did anything stupid. I just waited until I got my mind back on track so that I could continue on my path."
I never wanted to be on anybody’s else's path," he continues. "Nobody tells me what to do, nobody tells me how to dress. I do me. Period. I understand myself."
In 2015, Trindad came back strong, releasing the well-received mixtape, Trips to Trinidad. Currently based in L.A., he's now prepping for the debut of his latest single, "Just A Lil Thick (She Juicy)" produced by DJ Mustard and featuring Mystikal and Lil Dicky. The song is an ode to curvy women, and the video was shot on in Atlanta's southwest side by director Jon J. It's a simple song on the surface, easy on the ears with a bouncy beat and lyrics.
"It’s fun," he says, adding that the summer is his season, because he's a summer baby. "[The song] is different than what everyone else is talking about on the radio. I’ve never liked doing what everyone else is doing. That’s never been my thing."
But while he's not trying to earn a PhD in Women's Studies, Trinidad says the song is really about celebrating and respecting women of all sizes. Basically, you can be fly without succumbing to society's unrealistic, European beauty standards.
"People a lot of times have a certain image of what they think a beautiful woman looks like," he says. "But they’re all beautiful in different ways and I just wanted to give love to the women who to me don’t get enough love. I’m just the guy who gives a crap about the underdog. And I like people to feel good about themselves because you’re supposed to. Some women can’t help their size - they’re big-boned genes - it’s hereditary and they were never gonna be paper thin anyway. It’s like don’t feel bad about that - you’re good."
The song ties into his overall message of being free to be yourself and as a result, understanding your worth.
"I don’t follow any trends or what everybody’s doing," the 28-year-old rhymer says. "I’m the person who leads the way. I came in the game leading the way as being somebody who understands his craft and understands his individuality. This is just me continuing on my path, being that person to show the children who don’t want to be the next this, that or the other, who want to be different in their own way. People call them weird - it’s not weird, it’s just you you don’t have to be somebody else to be successful. You an be whoever you are and be successful and make real paper."
While he's gearing up for his summer takeover via his new single and the release of another EP, he's also working on his long awaited debut album. But he's taking his time with it, piecing it together slowly. He says it'll be out at the top of 2017 then quickly amends it and says it'll simply be out sometime next year. Again, Trinidad is taking his own cues, doing what feels right for his path, no one else's.
"I feel good about what I’m doing." he confirms. "I don’t feel pressure because I’m not battling anybody, I’m battling myself. Ain’t no competition, ain’t nobody like Trinidad James. Im not worried about anything. Either you’re gonna like me or not. That’s how life is, in general, really. I’m just trying to top my last project, and hit my goal."
In the end, it's all about figuring out and treasuring your worth.
"That’s something I’d tell artists and anybody in life," he reasons. "I’d never paid attention to it before but being in the industry helped me pay attention to that. When you have to recognize your worth, your realize that you can't jeopardize your career chasing fame."