“You should’ve come and hang with me, man. I was just sittin’ there.” Rapper Trinidad James expresses mild shock after I confess to chickening out of wanting to say hi to him at this year’s SXSW “Illmore” hip hop showcase.
Recognizable by his signature torn up white jeans and red bandana around his head, he was probably the best rapper – out of all of the rappers there – to approach that night. In fact, his well-known positive attitude is one of reasons the Trinidad-born, Atlanta-raised artist is so likeable. “I feel like every artist has a different outlet and way to connect with the fans,” says Trinidad. “I just choose to be hands-on because, shit, I worked my whole life doing nine-to-fives and working in jobs that made me have to be a people person.”
Being approachable helps, but what doesn’t hurt is being known for the massively infec-tious single “All Gold Everything” that blew up YouTube in 2012. Released off of his first mixtape Don’t Be S.A.F.E., the single went viral and launched Trinidad’s star practically out of nowhere. With fun party-lines like “Popped a molly / I’m sweatin’, woo!” and its eye-catching video with his unbuttoned leopard print shirt, red pants and fly slippers, he caught the attention of many — even landing him in last year’s XXL Freshman issue. He’s put out a handful of singles since, and a new project, the mixtape 10 PC Mild on his label Gold Gang Records.
Trinidad clearly doesn’t mess around when it comes to gold. “It’s a first place mentality. That’s what gold means. All you can ask a person at the end of the day is try to be the best they can be, so I always say: aim for first and let the rest be history.” He credits his unique image and approach to life to his birthplace. “I feel there’s something about Trin-idad, and something about that particular island that just kind of makes people gain a respect for it. I’ve met some artists who have told me their family has a Trinidadian background. I mean, A$AP Ferg’s grandpa is from there.”
He goes on to enthusiastically describe a recent island visit for its notorious Carnival festival. “There’s a lot of energy and it’s made me a better performer. I take those things that I learn from the Soca shows and I take the energy from the stage presence and bring it into my own show. I’ve got a high energized show at all times.”
He also speaks highly of his style influencers. Being an ’80s baby, you can see how Versace and 90s fashion play a role in his look – and that’s something he loves about touring.
“There are different cities and different parts of the world that have their own look. I do whatever makes me feel happy. I like to feel creative with my outfits.” Outfits, puppies (oh, there’s a puppy in “All Gold Everything,” btw), and all gold aside, he wants to spread love and positivity through his music and performances. “The main goal for all my shows is that every person that came to have a good time.”
The interview wraps up in a way only a positive person could end it: by Trinidad turning into a life coach on the phone. “Keep hope alive and keep supporting the dream. Keep dreamin’, keep believing, just keep going on and keep doing what you know is right.”
Grab your gold and sweat it out with Trinidad James at Venue in Vancouver on Wednesday, April 16th.
By Katharine Sawchuk