Trinidad James: Gold Rushed

Written By: @BdotTM August 6, 2014 @ 12:22 PM EDT

Gilded Ambition.

Trinidad James lost his job last weekend. On Saturday, the Atlanta rapper revealed on Twitter that his employer Def Jam Records, had relieved him of his contractual obligations. Bummer. When former label president Joie Manda signed him in December 2012, he told MTV, “Trinidad James represents the cutting-edge of what’s happening in the culture today.”

Depending on who you ask, that’s part of the problem. But, more on that later.

In September 2012, James’ “All Gold Everything” from his Don’t Be S.A.F.E. mixtape turned him into an overnight star. Shortly after the music video went viral, major labels wanted in. Eventually, he signed a reported $2 million deal with the house that Russell and Rick built.

In the past, a pay day like this was reserved for more prolific upstarts. A decade prior, 50 Cent pocketed $1 million dollars from Shady/Aftermath Records. But for James, his resume was paper thin. In interviews he even admitted to rapping for only 10 months. For some, his appearance was more jarring than his brevity in the game. His cheesy garb and crooked smile drew comparisons to “Jerome” from the hit 90s sitcom, Martin. Who could take this guy seriously?

By December, “All Gold Everything” was remixed and within five months, the original scored a gold plaque. Could he do it again? Def Jam doubled down and sanctioned “Female$ Welcomed” from Don’t Be S.A.F.E. to decent, but, minimal fan fare.

To silence the one hit wonder chatter, James dropped his 10 Piece Mild mixtape in August 2013, but his efforts would be short lived. On November 12, TJ critiqued New York hip-hop during a performance in Brooklyn of all places. “I remember when New York rap was the shit and us ‘bamas,’ us from the South was like, ‘What the fuck? And we just did our own thing, but now we run y’all musically,” he boasted. “That’s crazy. Now, every nigga that’s really poppin’ out of New York, he might as well tell you he from Atlanta.”

Bad move. He later clarified his statements, but by then, the damage was already done. Diss records and Summer Jam screens soon followed. James became an industry laughing stock.

In some ways TJ, is a victim of his own success. After all, it’s not his fault “All Gold Everything” became a hit. What’s really happening in the culture today is that hype is superseding artist development. In James’ case, a million or so YouTube views was presumably enough to warrant a signing.

Conversely, it’s an independent’s market and Trinidad did win over 500,000 iTunes subscribers. So perhaps he can do it again without the support of a label. From here on out, it’s up to him to prove that he’s more than a flash in the pan. —B.Dot

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  • L Officer

    No this dude is garbage, but he might survive the internet era

  • .Trillion.

    Trinidad James Hype – The Truth With Elliot Wilson

  • el jim chapo guzman

    It was nice during business with you lam

  • yeah

    Good article b dot. But i always rooted for Trinidad, I took the music for what it was, it got me hype, I even ran into him at a sneaker convention and he was super cool. But go ahead and hate me if you want. But if you really wanna see Trinidad lose in life I really wonder about you.

    • Brian B.Dot™ Miller

      Thanks yo

      • Sina Mailer Daemon Djavadkhani

        Nice write up

    • I’m a Trinidad James fan.
      Real recognize real
      I’ve watched his interviews and listened to his first project when he first came on the scene
      I appreciate his honesty and liked that fact he hasn’t been rapping for more than a couple of years.

      Many should have looked at him as an inspiration instead of a joke or having some type of biased envy or jealousy.

      • IgnorantWisdom

        Man i wasnt that much of a fan of his music but i agree most ppl did not even bother to hear his music not even his interviewers, he is a smart guy and probably didnt play the part that def jam wrote it for him, he isnt that dumb south rapper that everybody think he is

      • BCE

        Real recognize real. Stop right there. This fool just called Trinidad James an Inspiration. We’re done.

      • Slim

        Haha my God man. Having an opinion is one thing but chill with the inspiration talk. The dude sucks at what he got signed to do. And the dude above you pretty much saying if you want someone who is polluting the culture to be removed then you’re abnormal. Word bro.

        ^^ “This ain’t for the bandwagon fans, sit your ass in the same spot. Y’all the same niggaz that made Trinidad James hot.” – Joey

        • I said Many not All you niggas.
          Its so easy for you not to look at things from a wider prospective, So I respect your small minded opinion, WORD BRO.

          Ya’ll the same niggas that get your opinion from other niggas instead of having your own. lol smh

          And actually Joe made Trinidad James hot.
          Joe on hot 97 rappin Females Welcomed brought Trinidad to my attention, which made me go check out his full project.

          For those that are working on there First mixtape project or just working on a project in general…If Trinidad James can pop that quick, you can aslo!
          Look at the large picture!

  • wackness emerges

    we didn’t need your op ed on this cat. its the blogs that are paid stipends for making internet soap box rants about music that is over saturating the genre.
    an old saying in our hip hop scene is “do shows, get fans”
    but with the internet and the social media / youtube generation LITERALLY changing the tune of what is “next” (by virtue of check this stupid shit out)
    momentum builds, the dumbing down of America is more than just music.
    simply need to overhear random conversations in any public forum and you see imagine how stupid you think someone is, now double how stupid they are and that is how stupid American music fans are… cc George carlin
    really tho, bc you need a dumb beat and stupid hook you can pay a stripper too?
    cmon son this guy deserves NO SHINE , don’t believe me?
    just watch


    In my personal opinion Trinidad James had all the potential to become a success however, his game plan was not there. All Gold Everything was big because it was an undeniable catchy song with a great beat. Not to mention, catch phrases in the song made people not help but recite. As for his image, and him being taken seriously, that to me had nothing to do with anything. If you look back in Hip-Hop outfits and looks were way crazier. He to me was a bit out spoken and just a bit too aggressive especially in his interviews. His down fall to me was him being too real. I listen to his first mixtape and it overall to me was cool and saw lots of potential. TJ would always stress to people to listen to the mixtape before placing judgement but sadly nobody did so they (interviewers) constantly place him as some character. I just hope he wakes up, because overall I think he’s a cool dude.

    • smoss44

      it’s over bro. the game moves too fast for one hit wonder second chances.

  • daman

    Watch bobby shmurda end up the same. Nice op ed by the way.

    • Brian B.Dot™ Miller

      Appreciate it. I hope he can capitalize, But I’ve seen this movie before.

    • It’s Just Music

      he is being mentored by Sha Money and supposedly has drake on the hot nigga remix. he will be fine for now.

  • daman

    You didn’t go hard enough on Def Jam though. These dudes did nothing but wack moves lately. Remember that Kendrick was signed to Def Jam back in the day & YG didn’t get any push for years…

  • Donn

    Only real music will last!!!! New LEGENDS!!! Real ppl want real music, the jig is up

  • Ghost Of Len Bias

    The thing about Trinidad is that he had dope records, but Def Jam wanted him to be something he’s not. Don’t Be SAFE is a lot more introspective than A.G.E.

    DJ didn’t want something from the mold of Outkast though, they wanted something from the mold of Future & 2 Chainz.

  • Everyone knows im not one of those people that come on here talking about “whats happened to hip hop” or “I miss Tupac” bla bla that’s bullshit music is always changing. However I’m seeing people say James was a good rapper and had potential. If yall really think this dude who had only been rappin’ for less than a year was a good rapper cos of one catchy song and a few mediocre records then maybe music really is lost.

    Labels are confused as fck at the moment cos the scene is unpredictable but Def Jam are idiots for not seeing this from a mile away. Trinidad is wack and will always be wack but yes he is a very nice and humble dude. This ain’t about being nice its about longevity. Internet hype stars should never get a deal cos 9/10 cases they haven’t even done the grind needed to stand more then 3 minutes in the industry.

    • NYC Shawty

      how do you expect to ever be taken seriously on here with that name and photo? not to mention all that Rick Ross dickriding be doin…

      • Thats got nothing to do with anything. If you don’t prefer Ross music thats fine but Ross’ has proved himself in the game now.

        • smoss44

          Exactly… dude I don’t care what ross did. you ain’t rick ross! I understand the avi but you took his name too? dickriding will not be accepted here lame. fuck ya nut huggin opinion simply based on everytime I see you on here I wanna smack ya bitch ass face

          • Why you so passionate tho? sippin’ Belair got Richforever playing in the background hahahah

          • Most definitely

          • smoss44

            cause you a parasite. mad homo. stop liking ya own shit too

          • FLASH kid

            If you had to make a Rick Ross Greatest Hits album, what songs will you select?
            Thanks bro!

          • Hustlin, Cross That Line, Tears Of Joy, Super High, There it tooo many man lol

          • It’s Just Music

            lmao rick ross actually has hits stupid fuck. regardless if he is a fraud or not

            1. Hustlin
            2. Austin Morton Music
            3. Maybach Music 1
            4. Maybach Music 2
            5. Super High
            6. BMF
            7. Magnificent

            the list could keep going. i don’t like rick fraud either but give credit where credit is due at least.

  • L.O.

    he had major label backing, now he on his own!! as long as he don’t owe Def Jam a crazy amount on the back end, Trinidad James will do just fine. Plus he own a sneaker shop in ATL, he still got funds coming in, plus he has a following. Salute to any and every Artist who just wants to be heard by the world!!!

    • NYC Shawty

      i dont think he owns a sneaker shop he just worked at one.. if that was the case he wouldnt be saying hes broke

  • realtalk82

    It’s funny because I never thought he was dope. EVER! I don’t even know how anyone went to his shows to watch him perform 1 mediocre song? Really? Anyway he was lucky people liked the single, he got semi rich off it, now the true musical colours show, he sucks.Period. I’m still bitter about his August Alsina feature in “I Luv This Shit” that was not needed at all. Wish him luck hope he gets better and proves us wrong. I hear he has a Sneaker Shop in ATL, that’s success right there. Stick with that bruh. Now when we talk about dope ATL artist, Cyhi Tha Prynce needs to be pushed as he’s on a whole other level.

  • ahiphopheadsince92

    I mean I wish him the best… even tho I never really listened to his music These majors cold blooded boy!

  • Zan

    its the ashley bank$ syndrome. Trinidad is a charismatic dude. I think he’ll be back if he hones his skills and digs deep but it’ll take him to be completely forgotten before he can do so.


    On November 12, TJ critiqued New York hip-hop during a performance in Brooklyn
    of all places. “I remember when New York rap was the shit and us
    ‘bamas,’ us from the South was like, ‘What the fuck? And we just did our
    own thing, but now we run y’all musically,” he boasted. “That’s crazy.
    Now, every nigga that’s really poppin’ out of New York, he might as well
    tell you he from Atlanta.”

    Bad move. He later clarified his statements, but by then, the damage was already done. Diss records and Summer Jam screens soon followed. James became an industry laughing stock.

    Yeah, i’m sure Maino and Troy Ave acting hurt over that statement really hurt his career. Not.

    • Brian B.Dot™ Miller

      It def didn’t help



    hype has aways been superseding artist development… if you make a hit and are hot, you can sell more than someone who’s been getting developed for 8yrs like teyana taylor/ kidd kidd

    • Brian B.Dot™ Miller

      I guess you have a point. But shit, look at J.Cole. Granted he had Hov, but he’s was built from the ground up

      • it’s the roc

        Difference between Cole and Trinidad is Trinidad had a hit record, if Cole had a bonafide hit like all gold everything on the come up, his path would have been very different and way less organic

        • BCE

          Right and Cole had been grooming himself his whole life for this too. Has a degree, came well prepared.

  • Laura’s Son

    Well put

  • BCE

    Good take. Rappers like Trinidad flood the industry and most aren’t as lucky as he turned out cause most sign for close to nothing and expect sustained results with little to no permanent publicity.

  • DJ Game

    Holy shit, did you guys actually write up a great article? Finally!

    • ilexx

      I was just as surprised. Some actual journalism for once. They should continue doing this.

  • T-Ruth

    OH MY GOD MORE OF THIS CONTENT ON RAP RADAR PLEASE! So articulate and good. get a REAL conversation going. Hats off


    @ B.Dot



  • poetmm .

    Ain’t Nobody Checking for Trinidad James

  • LukeCage

    Wtf is an iTunes subscriber, Bdot? 99 cents gets you one mp3.

  • ilexx

    Was a good read B Dot.

    I honestly would love to see more pieces like this on here. I still read articles on all different types of shit, but you guys have shied away from sharing your opinion for the most part.

    The whole Trinidad James fiasco was doomed to fail from the start and I think everybody knew Def Jam overpaid TJ. It was the same exact thing with a Chief Keef. To me it speaks to the fact that these labels either don’t understand what truly good hip hop is or they really aren’t looking for an artist that is gonna have some longevity, which seems like bad business to me.

    Do you know what Trinidad James, Chief Keef, French Montana, Waka Flocks Flame, Gucci Mane and Souljah Boy all have in common? As rappers they have no talent, skill or technical ability. Out of them all, I guess at least SB has a platinum album but I’ll give that to him because he pioneered the concept of building a brand through social media and the internet. Gucci has an insane work ethic that has allowed him to somehow earn as much as Rick Ross annually while spending more than half the year behind bars, that’s commendable I guess.

    But these are the best things that can b said about these guys. Their sales are all laughable. And this is the music business and these guys aren’t worth the paper their contracts are printed on.

    What’s going on right now, parallels French’s comments on lyrical rappers being broke. The truth is, non-lyrical rappers right now stand no chance of having any longevity in the game, they may be able to achieve some level of celebrity but that’s about it.

    All I am saying is if I was a label exec, I would rather have J Cole, Kendrick, Ab-Soul or an up-and-comer like Isiah Rashad on my team than a Waka or French Montana.

    Bring back artist development and stop signing one-hit wonder niggies and then just putting em out right away. Find quality and nurture it, tour those artists and build their brands, it will pay off in the end and the listeners will be happier for it and it will reflect positively on sales.

  • Frank Kennedy

    I felt the last song James made, but I have to ask.. What’s up with all this hype surrounding him being dropped? Am I missing something? Is he the first one hit wonder to ever get dropped? Is anyone really surprised?

  • yorapper

    You do realize Martin has zero culture relevance to today’s generation? Putting that in your argument makes you look like those old and bitter dudes in the barbarshop and I know you’re not.

    • Theodore Pendergrass


  • it’s the roc

    Great piece right here. Give us more of this

  • GreenBergs

    decent write up, but i still dont get how bdot could claim to b a journalist..

  • Michael Ibbett

    Good for writing an article…write more…I dont read magazines anymore, but still want to actually read coherent viewpoints and facts about rap from a form of insider in it.

  • theOtherandyitwaru

    I feel bad for James, but after all gold he really was stuning waay too hard, if he had been a little more humble he might have ingratiated himself to more people, now Im thinking he might have a problem with people messing with him

  • The Rock says

    Lmaoooo yall niggas was clowning him when he got signed, nd now that’s hes been dropped yall sayin he had potential and was an inspiration, lmaoo get the fuck outta here, yall deserved to get Rock Bottomed thru a table

  • Fame doesn’t equate to Success. If I was a musician, I would build my buzz & fan base before even considering inking a deal. But that’s my opinion.

  • It’s Just Music

    james kind of did this to himself.
    why admit you been rapping only for 10 months?

    why would you sign in the first place? (if def jam paid him 2 million [which i highly highly highly doubt] that is his money to work on his album. he must pay that back in order to profit) he should of stayed indie and cash out.

    why diss one of the most important places in hip hop in their own city? why burn all those bridges?

    Regardless, James lived an opportunity spammers on this message board will bend over to have but he did this to himself.

  • Educated Villain

    I liked this article a lot better than other post regarding Trinidad being dropped from Def Jam. For anyone to get a gold plaque off of a mixtape and score a record deal is a great accomplishment. To criticize the artist is kind of backwards considering the label has been doing this for years. They figured it was a quick payday. There are way worst artist out right now than TJ. The only artist getting put out now glorify drug abuse, label whoring, tricking, and fucking another man’s woman. They all need to be dropped. Hip-hop use to teach you shit you could actually apply in real life situations to better yourself. But at the end of the day he put out a mixtape, got signed, opened a clothing boutique, & got dropped. Meanwhile, you all online voicing biased opinions and spouting negativity. When this can be a learning experience for everyone involved, him as an artist and us as a fans or detractors. A young black man under 25 has maneuvered himself into a situation that has given him an alternative to the drug game that is so readily accessible. He still will be able to get booked to perform “All gold everything” if only for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. So he still got the best hand out of that deal. So whether you’re sad or feel it was long overdue, at the end of the day whether he’s signed or not my bills, much like most of yours are still due every month.

  • 23Jman

    Dude is dope… i dont why the dropped him.The MF had 2 #1 records!! in 2 years who TF doing that?!!! #AllGold #ILTS

  • Trinidad is one of my favorite rappers and I don’t even listen to his music. The thing that jumped out at me about TJ is his positive attitude and outlook. Every interview he was in, he spoke freely and didn’t bash rappers or put people down. He was constantly hounded with questions about all of the people who dissed him, all the people who took shots at him, all the people who said he can’t rap, all the people who dissed his look and so on. But he never fed into the negativity and the bullshit. When he said what he said about New York (which was true btw), the people who were looking for a reason to hate him latched onto that. It’s a real shame that nobody took notice of how TJ handled the trappings of success with grace for so long before he finally starting feeding into the diss tracks and the bullshit drama. I applaud and continue to support this man. I’m more of a fan of Trinidad James the person than Trinidad James the rapper. #beGREAT