Trinidad James has had a tumultuous relationship with record labels. In 2012, Def Jam signed him for a reported $2 million joint venture deal off the success of his breakout hit, “All Gold Everything." Two years later, he announced that he was broke and had been dropped by the label. On Friday (Apr. 24), James spoke about how he views record labels today.
"Now they’re preying on the young children,” James told BuzzFeed. "They’re not giving them a chance to fully develop. Their songs that are popping, they already popped in the underground and the clubs — that’s what the DJs are playing. They’re already turnt up. So what they need is just a good investor, not a major label, just a respectful, loyal, worthy investor, somebody who gets what’s going on and let them be the label."
Many young artists have been signed by labels off the success of one track, similar to what James experienced. Bobby Shmurda is a recent example. He signed a deal last year off the strength of his “Hot N—a” single. Although Trinidad doesn’t name Shmurda, James says he sees this happen too often with rap acts.
"I think that’s a problem with hip-hop,” he said. "I don’t really see it happen like that with singers and overseas artists. In my entire life I had never heard one ounce of news about Lorde, and then she came out of nowhere and had the hardest summer ever and been turnt up ever since.
"She went from nothing to Taylor Swift in one summer,” he added. "But when you look at the background, they’d been coaching her and teaching her and nurturing her to be ready for it. I feel like that doesn’t happen with young hip-hop artists that get signed."
James’ “All Gold Everything” is still paying dividends. The song was used on Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” James received co-writing credit for the track, which has had the second-longest run at number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Still, James says he isn’t focused on just one song anymore. "My thing now is to push projects, stop pushing singles so damn hard,” he said. "The single’s cool, but push the project, because that’s what defines the artist. Nobody really became the f--king truth off of just singles. Jay Z had hard albums, Kanye had hard albums, Drake got hard projects. Real artists don’t just push one song — that sh-t’s wack as f—k."