For some artists, there’s an extreme sense of comfort that lies within the multimillion dollar backing of a major label, but for Trinidad James, who was released from Def Jam late last year, independence has enabled him to take his hustle to a higher level than it’s ever been before.
James, who was born in Trinidad but came up in Atlanta, rose to stardom almost overnight after his hit single “All Gold Everything” took over the charts and his one-of-a-kind ostentatious style left hip hop befuddled trying to figure out if this was something that would stick around for awhile. He would follow up with some buzz worthy mixtapes, but parted ways with the label that signed him to a $2 million deal, citing creative differences.
Though he has yet to release an official album, James has been able to work with greater efficiency now that he is not working on anyone else’s schedule and in an exclusive interview with BET.com, he talks about his new music, his charitable endeavors and why he is in a better headspace now than ever before.
Your fans are still anxious to get that debut album. How’s the creative process been for you lately?
I’m just focused on what I’m doing and my music is matching the activities that I’m putting into the community and when it’s time to come out it’ll come out. I’m in a different wave mentally and I just understand myself as a man first and an artist second, so the things that I’m doing are the things that I need to do for my legacy as a man to leave for my kids.
And on a business level how’s independent life been treating you?
It’s great. I feel like [when] I was with a major label I couldn’t get anything like this accomplished in two years. So for this being less than a year of independence, to have these crazy events that I’m doing is great. I advise anybody who don’t know how to operate on a major: Get your nuts back.
Having said that all eyes are on you now to show that you still got that fire that first helped you blow up. Does that make you nervous at all?
I don’t care about number ones and all the things that other people care about that much like the masses, I care about, what kind of legacy did I leave for the communities? What kind of example did I leave? You made good songs? Okay, people love good songs but what else can be said about you? I want to be somebody that you can say something about every facet of with the work I’m doing.
With your unique experiences so far in this game what advice do you give to other up and coming artists?
Everything that I’ve done in this game I’ve taught myself and just learned by example going through the ringer, messing up, doing it right, messing up, doing it right. And that’s what life is about. You have to be able to learn and teach yourself. If you don’t do it nobody is going to do it for you.
You recently moved to Los Angeles. You’re independent. What other ventures aside from your music and your charities are you looking to jump into?
Movies, acting. That’s one of the reasons I moved here to LA. Really I’m just focused on this charity work, and not just aimlessly doing charity but things that organically feel right. Everything, when it starts building in my brain it’s like the seed, and then it starts to sprout and that’s more of the dream showing itself for me to believe in it. And once I believe in it, I just do it.
Rewind! Watch: Trinidad James Moves on From Def Jam in the BET.com Music News video below.
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(Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for All Def Digital)