In the wake of his recent claim that Atlanta runs New York music, Trinidad Jame$ has been called a lot of things. But, according to Jame$ himself, people who take the time to know him only call him one thing: “dad.”
That may seem like an odd term of endearment for a young, gold-grill-adorned rapper from the South, but it surprisingly fits; Jame$ has a calming presence beyond his years and is quick to reinforce the positive rather than dwell in negativity. It’s one of the reasons why his claim, which he made at a Converse-sponsored concert in Brooklyn on Tuesday, was so shocking. The other was that not many rappers of Jame$’ stature—never released an album, only been rapping for a few years—would make such a bold statement about the birthplace of hip-hop.
But Jame$ gets this. He understands why people are angry but insists that he would never diss New York. Rather, he was just telling the truth, he told XXL on the phone, like someone talking with his friends in a barbershop. He also went on to talk about what was going through his head at the show in Brooklyn, why he loves NYC, why he doesn’t consider himself a rapper and why he called out Peter Rosenberg and Charlamagne Tha God on his new song.
What was your mindset at the concert in Brooklyn? What was going through your head at the time?
I had to come to the realization from a business standpoint that it’s really about you; you got to do what’s right for you and your business. As an artist, you’re supposed to focus on the creative side: making the music, making the visuals, performing to the best of your ability. But in my situation, I had to revamp my whole team and everything that was going on with me, so that was what was fresh coming into that show. I had a true realization of what people think I am and what I want to be, so I had to start all over. That was the first show since I came up with this new (mindset) of who I’m going to be as an artist and who people are going to accept me for or not like me for. Period.
Why did you have to revamp your team and everything that was going on with you?
As an artist, we all have times where you reach a certain point with people; you hit a ceiling with the team you’re working with. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people or anything. It’s just in order to be who you think you should be, you got to have a teammates around you to make that happen. So if I don’t think I have the people around me to allow me to get past that ceiling, then I need to make a new team. That’s how I live my life; if it’s not working, you gotta revamp it and try something else. And sometimes you can’t try it with the same people. Sometimes you got to do it by yourself. The night of that show, that’s where I was at. Shout out to Converse. I hate that all this negative energy is coming towards their way, because I love those people. They’re good people.
In general, I have no beef with New York. I would never disrespect New York. New York is the place that showed me the most love more than any other state when I first started doing music. I did the biggest show of my life in Atlanta, then right after that I did the biggest show of my life in New York…I would be a fuck nigga to disrespect New York. I get what everyone is talking about now. I looked at people’s comments, and of course some people were saying the normal bullshit about Trinidad James: He’s ugly and he’s a one-hit wonder. People tend to forget the one main thing about any artist – [and it goes for] an artist with one hit or an artist with 30 hits – is that we’re all human. When I say that, I’m not retracting any statement or copying a plea or asking forgiveness. The same thing that I said in front of every New Yorker that was in front of me is the same conversation that is happening in barbershops and the same conversation that other artists are talking about. It’s just it sucks to come from a nigga like myself. If it was anybody else saying those things, it would be A-OK. But because it’s me saying it, that’s where the whole problem resides in. At the end of the day, I get it for what it is. But I can’t apologize for the truth.
So if that concert was the coming-out party of your new mindset, why did you choose to talk about New York?
If you really looked at everything I was saying throughout the whole night, they [just] picked that [one] clip. That was in the middle of the show. If somebody showed you the whole entire show and everything that I was saying, you’d see that I was just getting how I felt off my chest. I felt like it’s a whole lane open in the music game – from the underground all the way to the mainstream – for somebody who is not scared to address the elephants in the room. There’s no gray areas with me; there’s no elephants in none of my rooms.
I went back and looked back at what I said out my mouth. I said, “Atlanta runs New York musically.” That’s what I said, word for word. But before I said that, I was talking about the times when us in Atlanta was driving to New York to get the Dipset mixtapes, because New York music was New York music. It was a New York sound. It’s no way humanly possible that Atlanta could ever run New York. Like I said, this was my first show where I was incorporating my new style of show – we don’t say everything perfectly. I know what I meant and somebody knows me knows what I meant, but somebody who doesn’t know me – and you already have so much animosity toward me because of who I am – is gonna take it some sort of way, so I get it. I’m still not apologizing for anything, but I get why you could be upset.
Has the animosity been tough to deal with?
Honestly, what really sucks is that I do so many positive things, so many things to try to do better. I don’t care nothing about rapping. Period. I don’t even consider myself a rapper at all. I consider myself a person who is out here just to tell you the truth. I’m your dad – that’s how I look at myself. If it comes across as rap to you, then you call it what it is, but I don’t consider myself a rapper. I came into the game thinking I’m in the rap game so I have to be a rapper, but when I really realized who Nick is and who is the person in the mirror, I’m not a rapper. I’m a person who is going to tell you the real. I’m a person who loves doing the shows and entertaining people and making people happy. That’s who I am and that’s who I’m going to be regardless of what anybody says and what anybody thinks. When I go to Europe and six, seven thousand people are going crazy and losing their mind when they don’t even speak English, that allows me to know that I’m doing this for the right reasons. There’s artists who are 70 times better rappers than me, but they never even been over seas and did a tour. Everybody’s success level is different. At the end of the day it what it is. You just got to live your life.
Yesterday on your Bandcamp, you released “L.I.A.A.R.S” and called it “the truth.” Was it recorded before or after the incident?
I could never do music that fast. I had that song done because I was working on a new side project called Crazy Deacon outside my album, which is almost done. I started on Crazy Deacon cause I got so upset about everything that was going on around me on my side of town. Those words are going to touch people the wrong way because of what’s going on, but those words go for anybody. Just because I shake your hand doesn’t mean we’re friends. That’s just how I treat everybody. We’re not friends; you don’t call my phone, I don’t call your phone. If I see you me in the club and you want to come to my section, I’ll say, “Sure, come along,” because I’m a nice guy, but we’re not friends. People just can’t take the truth man. People can’t take the real. They can tell you all day long that they’re a real nigga this, a real nigga that, but when you actually start really saying what is real and what is true, they either kill you or ostracize you. Straight up.
On “L.I.A.A.R.S.” you call out Hot 97, Peter Rosenberg and Charlamagne Tha God. I think some people interpreted the song as you justifying that you weren’t talking about New York as a whole but just its radio.
It was one of those types of things where that’s just timing. It’s no fakeness; I don’t retract statements. I can only be held accountable for what I say, not what you don’t understand. With that said, when me and Peter Rosenberg first met, he was coming at me sideways, in my personal opinion. I didn’t get why he was doing it. Yeah I wanted to hit him in his shit, [but] I had a conversation with god [and] god said, “He doesn’t understand and he’s never even heard your music – don’t get upset with him, he doesn’t know any better.” That’s his job: to be an a-hole. And now me and Peter Rosenburg are best of friends; I like that guy, he’s cool. It just sucks that he’ll go down as the greatest interviewer who was an a-hole of all time, but it is what it is. At Hot97, people would think me and Angie are really cool, but the interview we had it seemed really intense. Even Angie will tell you it seemed really strange cause she didn’t know where all this animosity was coming from. It’s just perception. Me and her are good, there’s no between me and Angie Martiniz or Hot97. The third statement is “Ain’t no God for Charlemagne if he try me again.” Charlemagne is Charlemagne, and you know what I mean when I say that. He is the type of person who is never gonna be in the gray area, and I respect him for that. People say I fucked up the rap game, but in reality there these bloggers, interviewers and radio hosts that are fucking up the rap game because they don’t talk about the music no more; they talk about the propaganda. They’re basically TMZ on the radio. That’s what it is and that’s just the reality of it. I had to realize it for what it is, and I had to let people know don’t bring that shit my way because I ain’t no rapper. I’m just a person out here trying to take care of his parents and himself, buy some shows, have a couple kids and be a better person whenever I can to the best of my ability.