Yesterday evening, news quickly spread that Trinidad James had signed with Def Jam records for a rumored $2 million, just a week after performing at Santos Party House. The crowd at the NYC venue included a number of the label’s executives, including president Joie Manda, and it marked the culmination of a rise that seemed somehow both improbable and completely predictable. It was not his first time in New York, although it was his first since the buzz around his viral smash “All Gold Everything” reached critical mass.
It was also, to quote one publicist close to the situation, a “shit show.” Celebrities and VIPs were turned away at the door, or at least had to wait for a significant amount of time; comedian Hannibal Buress, New York Knick Baron Davis, rapper Joey Bada$$, and journalist Elliott Wilson were among them.
Like everything about James’ sudden rise from Atlanta scenester (he was working at Ginza clothing boutique in downtown Atlanta when he decided to become a rapper) to hip-hop star, the oversold show sparked cynicism. But Trinidad’s unlikely-yet-forseeable rise marks an important moment for Atlanta, an attempt to reassert its dominance in an era where regional styles, broadcast cheaply and easily on the Internet, have the potential to upset the city’s long-running centrality to hip-hop.
One man’s “gimmick” is another’s style. If rappers were forced to abandon “gimmicks,” the genre would suffer. Many times, those “gimmicks” are shorthand for charisma and personality.
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Like any Internet-driven phenomenon, James has attracted his share of detractors. Many of their concerns are unfair; a hit song is a hit song, and “All Gold Everything” qualifies, at least by the modest measure of YouTube success…
Read more: David Drake, Complex