Two years ago, Trinidad James's song "All Gold Everything" was the hottest rap song in the country, and Trinidad himself became an overnight star, landing a multimillion dollar record deal with Def Jam. Within a year, he had managed to piss off most of the New York rap establishment by making the (correct, if poorly timed) claim at a show in New York that Atlanta hip-hop was hotter than New York hip-hop, and, less than a year after that, he was released from his deal with Def Jam. By that point last summer, Trinidad James had become both a punchline and a cautionary tale about the rap industry hype cycle: He is, to many people, the archetypal one-hit wonder of modern hip-hop.
Yet while it might be tempting to write Trinidad James off as a failure, the more accurate narrative, in my eyes, is that Trinidad James is an example of the music industry failing itself. Rather than becoming the face of turning up in Atlanta (an honor ceded to Migos) as his label expected him to be, Trinidad James has adeptly positioned himself as a part of Atlanta's thriving experimental underground who just happens to have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers. His music over the last year has ranged from loopily weird to explicitly political to calmly positive to flat-out fun riffs on conventions.
His new project, No One Is $afe, is mostly the last mode, with songs that hop from a fuck-the-haters anthem with Makonnen to a hilariously fun West Coast banger with Lil Debbie and Problem to a party track about finding shrooms to a sex jam comparing Trinidad's dick to a choo-choo train. Best of all is the OG Maco feature "ALLAUS," which gets so hype on Maco's unhinged screaming that it's basically a fire hazard. And then Trinidad—who, remember, is now super positive—intervenes with this spoken word outro: "All of us have some color. Green shouldn't be the only color of unity. Open your eyes. All of us means you and me, not just the people on this song. No one is excluded." Those two contrasting tones are the blueprint for No One Is $afe, which is an awesome project and which you should listen to right now, below:
Fans can buy an art book that accompanies the album, and Trinidad will be hosting a release party in LA on January 22 with Taz Arnold.
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