All words: Bri Younger
All photos: Cesar Olivares
It’s been roughly five months since Trinidad James, the obscure Atlanta rapper, became Trinidad Jame$, the $2 million man. Since its October release, “All Gold Everything” or phrases from it (“popped a molly, I’m sweatin’”) have been unavoidable. It was only a matter of time before James would make an appearance in DC.
Trinidad James took the stage at Howard Theater on Monday night at 10:15pm. The rapper–widely known for his flashy and, at times, downright odd appearance–was relatively normal, considering. He sported a camouflage jacket adorned with Trinidad and Tobago patches and bright gold sleeves, khaki capris and black and gold Jordan R7s – a far cry from the bright red capris, leopard print blouse and pitbull puppy accessory we saw in the “All Gold” video.
When Genesis, James’ DJ, played a couple of tracks from Future’s mixtapes (“Gone To The Moon” and “Itchin’”) prior to the main event and the majority of the crowd was unaffected, I assumed this was a group of people who had paid to see one song and one song only. They didn’t seem like the types that would check out an entire catalog, though to be fair, in this case that would only be one mixtape/album: Don’t Be S.A.F.E.
I was wrong.
This crowd (or at least all the people within earshot of me) knew his set from start to finish – a pleasant surprise. James opened with mixtape lead-in track “Tonk for the Money,” and it was a sing-a-long the rest of the night. Songs like “Female$ Welcomed” and “One More Molly” felt like anthems, as the audience couldn’t help themselves but to return every bit of the energy. At just 45 minutes long, his set felt far from short or hastened. It included seven of the 10 tracks from Don’t Be S.A.F.E., and DC native Shy Glizzy even showed up for a guest performance of “Pilot” from Glizzy’s December mixtape Fxck Rap.
Certainly this was all just lead-up to the reason for the season: “All Gold Everything.” He built anticipation throughout the show by inserting call-and-response “popped a molly, I’m sweatin’” drops between some of the songs. The moment finally came, and it was everything one would expect. First, he did half of the song a cappella (presumably to make sure everyone was prepared). Then the beat dropped and Howard Theater became a party. However, it wasn’t until he was performing an unnamed new song and jumped in the crowd that mayhem ensued.
Trinidad James is a perfect example of the effectiveness of simplicity in rap. With bass-heavy beats to carry a song and ultra-repetitive hooks generally no more than 10 to 15 different words, everyone can join in, even those who weren’t already familiar. While many seem to abhor such ease in hip hop, it works perfectly for a live show environment. With only a few months of experience under his belt, he performs like veteran. He’s genuine, poised and confident with an ability to move a crowd effortlessly. The songs that were forgettable through headphones come across a lot more efficaciously on stage.
Of course, he brought all of the clichés as well (bad bitches make noise; put your middle finger in the air, etc.). Still, he managed to get another message across: the beauty of dreams. At numerous points throughout the show, the rapper paused to encourage his fans – most of whom appeared to be under 21 – to follow their dreams and believe in themselves. As he closed the show (with none other than Drake’s “Started From The Bottom”), James’s final words to the audience were “no matter where you started, you’ll go to the top if you believe it.”
Can’t be mad at that.
Tonk For The Money
Gold On My Mac Book
One More Molly
Givin No F*ck$
You A Problem
That Turn Up
Pilot — Shy Glizzy feat. Trinidad James
$outh$ide (feat. Forte Bowie)
All Gold Everything
Opening acts: Solo D, Phil Da Phuture and Forte Bowie