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Breaking Down the Hype Behind Trinidad James

Posted by Nathan S. on 12/05/12 | Filed under Opinion, Trinidad James
Like most of America, or at least the part of America that gives a fuck about hip-hop, I've been hearing the name Trinidad James more and more frequently, to the point where the James' hype has reached "Goddamnit, I guess I need to form at least a semi-educated opinion on this dude" status. So I spent the last week listening to his "Don't Be S.A.F.E." mixtape, getting sucked into a YouTube vortex and everything else that passes for research in the age of the internet.

Since I know most of RefinedHype Nation has actual jobs that don't involve researching rappers, I thought I'd take a moment to break down some of the hype behind the man (seemingly) everyone's suddenly talking about.


You Probably Know Him Because of: "All Gold Everything", the now viral video and song that's even getting some radio play out here in L.A. It's not hard to see what "All Gold" is blowing up; the beat's catchy and anyone who knows how to form words can rap along:

Why You Should Keep Listening After "All Gold Everything": "All Gold Everything" is that break out single, but if that's the only thing you ever heard from James, you could rightfully dismiss him as just another young dude in that lane 2 Chainz seems to have carved out.

What's odd is that "All Gold Everything" isn't a particularly good reflection of James' music on the whole, which tends to be far more experimental and even...I don't want to say humble, but "ordinary guy" than the swaggering rapper on "AGE". Hell, he even still has a day job (or at least did until recently) and was recording his music out of a closet:

It's that side of James that I'm more interested, and something that moves him closer to the Outkast side of the ATL music spectrum than the 2 Chainz side. Relax, I didn't say he was the next Outkast, I mean his ability to put original twists on the same "street" sound everyone else is banging. Case in point "Females Welcomed", which is half turnt-up banger and half indie-rock sample Florence and the Machine type shit:

So, Is He Over-Hyped?: Well...yes, yes he is. At least he is if you're thinking about all those "Is Trinidad James Rap's Next Star?" articles being written.

This is going to shock you, but the media likes new things, and they particularly like new things if they're shiny and different. So when someone like James comes along they start pushing him like they're Frank Lucas and he's blue magic.

There's really nothing to do at this point but to wait out the initial flurry. As always, the "new car smell" will wear off and we'll get to see if James is the next Iggy Azalea (makes a big splash with her distinctive style, eventually turns out no one really cares about her music) or the next A$AP Rocky (makes a big splash with his distinctive style, proves he's got enough skill to at least stick around).

Overall I dig him, his music's entertaining but there appears to be something deeper behind it, but sweet baby jesus knows I can't make you like James, especially if you're the kind of dude who thinks anything that wasn't make in a basement in Brooklyn is garbage. Either way, the point is let's all just relax. I know we live in an era where you can go from complete unknown to the next big thing off one mixtape, but the man has essentially put out one mixtape.

We've got a long, long way to go before any pronouncements can be made. But personally I'm hopeful James can seize the opportunity to really make something original. Or he'll just make 20 different version of "All Gold Everything" and be gone in a year. We'll just have to wait and see....

(p.s. - This is hilarious.)

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