Trinidad Jame$ – Don’t Be S.A.F.E.

Trinidad Jame$ – Don’t Be S.A.F.E.

Trinidad Jame$ – Don’t Be S.A.F.E.
Think It’s a Game Ent.: 2012

Hip-hop has always had room for exaggerated characters; it’s always, to some degree, been about persona, ego and braggadocio, the individualistic combination of which has been sending rappers into other dimensions and beaming them back seemingly from space since even before ODB wailed his way out of speakers on 36 Chambers. It’s much more recently that this has been fore grounded to the degree it has today, though, yet another side-effect of a rap landscape that seems to feed upon web-buzz first and foremost.

It’s led to rumblings of discontent, here and there, muttering that these modern day up-and-comers need no talent to succeed, that rappers like RiFF RAFF and his internet-bred ilk are nothing more than carefully designed avatars to tick boxes first, make good music second. To those who believe this, I raise them “Bird On A Wire” and “Brain Freeze” and explain that, no, see, there is something there that goes beyond the admittedly striking image. Rappers still, generally speaking, need a little something more.

Trinidad Jame$’ mixtape Don’t Be S.A.F.E. is a mess, but it could ultimately serve to either prove me wrong or right, depending on how well it capitalizes on the buzz its single “All Gold Everything” has garnered so far, and as such is at least a worthy consideration in the conversation. He’s been the subject of some worryingly gushing write-ups seemingly on the basis of his tendency to wear animal print and his minimal approach on that break-out single. Upon listening to this guy further, though, you can’t help but feel that the minimalism is just laziness in disguise.

The aforementioned single cruises by on a simplistic three-note riff that sounds like a slowed down, cleaned up grime track and an admittedly insistent chorus, but that’s it: atop it Jame$ just drawls some placeholders about his jewelry and stumbles over forced current pop-culture references, (“shout out to the freshmen, on Instagram straight flexin’”). It’s a pattern that he follows across the duration of his ten-track debut tape, not saying much both figuratively and literally. There’s no depth to anything that he’s saying, plus he makes no real effort to stick any more than the bare minimum of words into his sparse bars.

Of course, sparseness when it comes to spitting can be a great tool when it’s used effectively, but you need something to back it up and pick up the slack; depth, for want of a better word. There are so few attempts here to step out of the current paradigm of molly, money and clothes, and so few attempts at any technically interesting  rapping, that you the sense that Jame$ must have spent more time thinking about his outfit for the “All Gold Everything” video than the raps on his tape.

Which brings things back to the crux of the matter: when you take into account the lack of skill or charisma on Don’t Be S.A.F.E., it’s clear that the shine the guy is getting at the moment is down to something else. It’s certainly not his beats, which go just as far in demonstrating that whatever identity Trinidad Jame$ holds, it is not a musical one. Despite being only ten tracks long, the tape features a stab at everything, from wavy cloud rap right through Luger-esque thuds all the way to a glossy and thoroughly pointless EDM breakdown at one point.

To bring up RiFF RAFF again, in some ways it calls to mind his freewheeling BiRTH OF AN iCON mixtape, itself probably only like a third real gold: but at 16 tracks shorter, and of a generally lower musical standard, it feels less like the voracious output of an open-minded oddball and more like lazy, cynical clutching at straws, searching for an idea that sticks.

What his success so far comes down to then is, of course, image. He’s not very talented, but Trinidad Jame$ feels like a watershed figure in the discussion of this facet of modern rap music. If the tape does as well as it deserves to, maybe I’m right: maybe your average hip-hop head is still kind of (kind of) discerning. If it transcends like some people seem to think it will, then I guess I’m wrong. And may God have mercy on us all.

1 out of 5


  1. Slower
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 18:53:00

    ^ thinks exquire was the first to rock a lot of gold jewelry

    look up big daddy kane & slick rick.

  2. Saxon Baird
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 21:06:00

    Playerz Circle. First album is really underrated. ; )

  3. nigelPOW
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 20:30:00

    Agreed. RiFF RAFF is to hip hop what Ronald McDonald is to black face.

    I enjoy actually Krispy Kreme’s music, it’s funny and actually has better flow than Lil B, Riff Raff, Kitty Pryde, & Trinidad James altogether, but some people are giving him too much credit. I enjoy 2 Chainz music in a different way but just as much because I know he just throws the stupidest shit together and it gets a laugh out of me.

  4. WWW
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 19:03:00

    I fully understand the author of this review. All these “comical” trap rappers are generic as f**k. They make predictable music that’s actually incredibly annoying after the first 2 songs. Lil B and Riff Raff are both trying waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard. They are not funny and their music is literally unlistenable….especially Lil B.

    Trinidad James is all that in one place. Predictable production, retarded lyrics and overall a really shitty music.

  5. Oz
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 18:39:00

    Popped a molly, I’m sweatin’. WOOO!

  6. Oz
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 18:25:00

    2Chainz isn’t an idiot, he had a 4.0 GPA while playing D1 basketball. I cannot knock dude’s choice of career path. After being Luda’s weed carrier for almost a decade, he reformatted himself into this absurd character that received more attention these 2 years than the past 10yrs before that. Krispy Kreme & Kitty Pryde do not warrant my attention. But I do agree with you on the RiFF RAFF statement. Something was always wrong about a white dude embodying a hip hop caricature. Might be a stretch, but I always think of black face minstrel shows when I think of RiFF RAFF.

  7. Andrew Martin
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 17:33:00

    I can see where you’re coming from, but 2 Chainz has never spit a line that’s as what-the-fuck-hilarious as RiFF RAFF. Also, 2 Chainz isn’t an idiot, but nothing he really does is quite as entertaining. I was actually rooting for Jame$ before I really sat down and thought about how quickly he has risen. Meteoric is an understatement.

  8. nigelPOW
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 16:31:00

    I have a huge issue with these harsh reviews for comical trap rappers yet Riff Raff is hailed as the Messiah of all things sarcastic. You guys constantly bash 2 Chainz for his dumbed down lyrics yet Krispy Kreme is a closeted genius. And don’t even get me started on Kitty Pryde. Also the hate for Lil B here is strong. Riff Raff is terrible. He rubbed me the wrong way when I first saw him on G’s to Gents. He looked like every thing that was wrong with how white people viewed hip hop. And now he has a huge internet following for being a shitty rapper?

    2 Chainz is basically a real life version of Dave Chappelle’s “A Day In The Life of Lil Jon” skit. Yet his joke raps aren’t received as well as Riff Raff or Heems. You guys name Krispy Kreme one of the biggest trolls because is actually a smart dude yet ignore 2 Chainz is far from the idiot his stage name or rap personality portrays.

    Trinidad James is looking like the next one up on your list.

  9. Đ℞ΞV/
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 15:59:00

    I loved this mixtape. I think you all are crazy. I think this is one of my favorite tapes this year. Get the Dibia$e screwed version that is freakin awesome

  10. Saxon Baird
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 13:32:00

    Yeah. I mean, the writer does bring up that it’s a bit mind-boggling that he’s got so much coverage. But he’s also friendly about it. I don’t think its particuarly gushing OR negative, it seems pretty neutral. I mean the whole last paragraph and a half is about how shitty one of his songs is. Also, just pointing out that the quote everyone keeps posting was actually about his fashion-sense…

  11. Andrew Martin
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 13:29:00

    He calls his rapping style “minimalist” or some bullshit, which isn’t a critique or anything. It basically justifies the fact he can rap for shit.

  12. Saxon Baird
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 13:24:00

    The full quote: “He wears animal print, his hair blooms like broccoli out from his headband—he’s somewhere between N*gga Please-era ODB and the shroomed-out psych funk that Andre 3000 somehow managed to capture when he was wearing ski boots or whatever circa Stankonia.”

    It’s just about the way he looks.

  13. Saxon Baird
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 13:24:00

    That’s describing his looks. Not his rapping.

  14. Andrew Martin
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 12:10:00

    “He’s somewhere between N*gga Please-era ODB and the shroomed-out psych funk that Andre 3000 somehow managed to capture when he was wearing ski boots or whatever circa Stankonia.”

  15. Saxon Baird
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 11:41:00

    You should re-read that Fader article. It isn’t particularly gushing at all.

  16. Geoff El Terich
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 10:34:00

    is anyone gonna mention how he’s bitin Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire’s whole look?

  17. kalonji
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 09:32:00

    fair review

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