He’s the new thing right now.
His name is Trinidad James and he hails from Atlanta. He’s only been rapping for a couple of years and already has a song in the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
He burst on to the scene with the single, “All Gold Everything” in which he raps, “Popped a molly, I’m Sweating (whoo!)” and then proceeds to repeat himself over and over again.
For those who don’t know, Molly, ecstasy’s hipper cousin, has been big in rap for a while now.
As a mom, I’m concerned.
But apparently, Trinidad James is too, answering those critical of his drug references by saying, “When I made that song I wasn’t thinking about the kid who was going to listen to the song. I was just speaking about my life, and if you can relate, great.”
But now, Trinidad James appears tired of dealing with the backlash from the music he makes. In a recent interview with XXL, he essentially laid it all out there, saying he makes ignorant music because that’s what sells records.
“There are some artists who make drug references just to look cool, or just trying to appeal to somebody, right? But sh*t, dude, people have been doing that forever,” explained Trinidad. “It’s not even about drugs, it can be about anything–cars, jewelry, whips. Artists make music, and some artists talk about sh*t they really like, but it’s on the listener to decipher if it’s real and if they really f*** with it or if they’re going along with it because everyone else is. That’s how this game set up, man. You’ve got people who want to hear about the sh*t that they want, but not the sh*t that they need to hear about. People don’t want to hear positive rap as much as people want to hear negative rap.”
Pretty sad. But if Trinidad James is speaking the truth, it says just as much about us as it does about him. But here’s another truth. I can’t rely on Trinidad James to produce music I want my sons to listen to any more than I can rely on Quentin Tarantino to produce movies I want them to see or Rockstar Games to release video games that I want them to play.
These people are in business to make as much money as they can off of as many people as they can. My business is to parent. That’s an action word meaning to raise, nurture and protect.
I’ve heard the argument that rappers are just like actors, that we shouldn’t hold them accountable for lyrics any more than we should hold Denzel accountable for reciting his lines in …say…”Training Day.” But actors and actresses don’t act and dress the part in public day in and day out. And most people don’t watch a movie as often as they listen to a song or commit the words to memory (unless you’re J. Anthony Brown and the movie is “The Color Purple”).
If I do my parenting job correctly, when my boys are old enough to choose their own type of music, video games and movies, they will be able to appreciate it for its entertainment value and not look to any of it for moral direction.
But just as my parents told me during my teenaged years, it’s not you I’m worried about…it’s the other people. What about the kids who start out empty of moral or spiritual nourishment who have come to rely on what they see and hear from rappers like Trinidad James for fulfillment? We’re quick to say that these young men and women shouldn’t be our kids’ role models, but for many, they are their role models by default.
Trinidad James and a lot of well-meaning parents take the easy way out when they decide that they’re looking out for themselves and their children, but it’s up to everyone else’s children to figure it out on their own.
We don’t live inside a bubble. All you have to do is look at the crime and sexual violence on college campuses to know that sooner than we realize our kids will be classmates, roommates and maybe soul mates with kids who have a different set of values, or none at all. We should all play a part through mentoring formally and informally our neighbors, nieces and nephews, any young people who need to be exposed to another side of life.
With all the foolishness Trinidad James promotes through his lyrics, these are the words prominently posted on his Instagram page: He who kneels before God can stand before anyone.
If only he could be sure his young audience is that grounded in truth.