ON THE RISE: Trinidad James

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Trini rapper signs US$2m record deal

By Nigel Telesford

Atlanta-based rapper Trinidad James has signed a record deal rumoured to be valued US$2 million with Def Jam Recordings—home of superstars such as Rihanna and Kanye West.

After creating a tidal wave of attention with his hit single and video, "All Gold Everything", over the last two months, James cashed in on his popularity last week following a bidding war among the industry's top recording labels.

Def Jam president Joie Manda told Billboard Magazine exclusively:

"We're excited to welcome a young talent like Trinidad James to the Def Jam family. Def Jam prides itself as both a cornerstone of hip-hop's rich tradition—and as a vital, forward-thinking label dedicated to breaking and nurturing emerging artists. Trinidad James represents the cutting-edge of what's happening in the culture today.

"We are thrilled to have him at the label, and look forward to growing his already massive buzz, said Manda."

Apart from being amazed at the number and calibre of celebrities who have reached out to him to lend their support, James told the Express that he is focused on becoming a better artiste and not letting his meteoric rise get the better of his cool, humble nature.

"First of all, I have to say thank you to Def Jam for believing," he began. "And, secondly, to all the fans everywhere for supporting my project and my music. I'm really focused right now on learning and improving and becoming a better artiste, so I don't even look at the numbers or the tabloids and that stuff. I only just started in this business and I want to be here for a long, long time, so I'm not trying to just explode and fade away.

"When I decided to take this music thing seriously and my team came through to support me, we made a pledge to go all the way with this, so what you're seeing right now—as amazing and fantastic as it is—this is just the beginning really."

The signing also includes a joint venture with the rapper's Gold Gang Records.

Trinidad is now on the same imprint as Kanye West, Nas, 2 Chainz and others. There was much speculation as to which record label James would sign to, especially after notable record executives were spotted at his first headlining show in New York City on December 4.

Label executives, including Def Jam's Joie Manda, Shawn Pecas, Chris Atlas and Barry Weiss as well as Atlantic Records' Mike Keyser, were amongst those in attendance.

"At the end of the day," said James, "I didn't start off tryng to get a record deal, so I'm already over-achieving. I just wanted to make good music and put together a great project that people would feel and hopefully fall in love with, because without the music and the people, none of this other stuff wouldn't be happening.

"So right now, I got people I trust, who're gonna take care of the numbers and the contracts and the clauses and all of that...I'm gonna be aware of stuff that's going down, but that's not really my focus; that's not really my job. I gotta stay fit and stay ready to represent when the people call for this music."

In a recent interview with DJ Heat, James shared his astonishment about some of the celebrities who have reached out to support him.

"Tyson Beckford reached out to me," he revealed. "He's from Trinidad too, so that was pretty cool. Jason Weaver hit me today…that was pretty cool. Ahmmm…Woody Harrelson—he came to my studio session and we showed him the video and my friend told me he said afterward that he likes the song."

Trinidad James' video for "All Gold Everything" has garnered close to 2.7 million views since it was uploaded in October.

His mixtape, "Don't Be S.A.F.E.", which includes his "Gold" hit, is now available on iTunes. He recently released a second single entitled "That Turn Up", which was produced by hit-maker Mike Will and is gaining popularity as well.

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