nick porcaro drops it like it’s hot…
Mainstream rap as a “thing”—an art form, if you will—is veering wildly off course. There used to be a time when the industry would present us with artists like 50 Cent, or Ja Rule, or Nelly, or Ludacris…you know, mainstream rappers who made crossover pop hits that nonetheless reinforced an existing viewpoint or cultural movement. They had reason to exist. Times have changed, and now Internet infamy dictates every lame boardroom decision to the point where the fat cats are tossing $2 million deals to a bunch of guys who phone it in. Guys who have rapped seriously for less than ten months. Guys who fall off the beat to tell entirely unrelated anecdotes, repeat the same phrase over and over again, maybe even stop rapping entirely in the middle of a verse. Guys like Chief Keef…no, wait, wrong review.
Guys like Trinidad Jame$.
On first glance Don’t Be S.A.F.E. isn’t so bad. The production is stellar. Trinidad maintains an infectious and carefree demeanor on nearly every track. The tape is an easy listen perfect for bumping in the car or as background music pretty much anywhere. There are plenty of silly catchphrases that will stick in your head for days at a time. It’s hard not to grin and bob around to the beats.
But wait a minute…he’s not saying ANYTHING on this mixtape at all! There is nothing of lyrical merit on Don’t Be S.A.F.E. No shocking insight into street life in the ATL, no touching stories of personal grief or triumph, not a sliver of depth to connect us to Trinidad Jame$ the man. There aren’t even any particularly funny sex jokes, and rappers are practically giving those away now. Instead we get the unholy trinity of Rap Music in 2013: sex, drugs and swagswagswag. Don’t Be S.A.F.E. is track after track after track of popping molly, getting drunk, sleeping around, busting your load all over an unsuspecting female and waking up the next day to do it again:
“She thought I was a joke, but nah baby, I ain’t Ledger,
So she slipped off her Cements and started sippin’ semen,
She ain’t even breathin’, just…(moaning sounds), she goin’ in,
So the next time you on the couch, chillin’, lookin’ at Netflix,
Know that I was in yo’ house, givin’ yo’ bitch the business”
Now, let’s be fair; most listeners aren’t expecting much from Don’t Be S.A.F.E., and rightfully so. “All Gold Everything,” Trinidad’s only real hit so far, is little more than a showcase for a braindead rhyme scheme over a sleep-inducing Trap Beat for Dummies. With that in mind, maybe it’s surprising that Don’t Be S.A.F.E. is enjoyable in small doses and cohesive enough to function (sort of) as a complete mixtape. And perhaps I really want to excuse the stupidity on this mixtape because there are some promising hints of inspiration when Trinidad’s bootleg Big Boi flow just clicks with the turnt up beats…but I can’t. There is no suitable reason to lend credibility to some guy who blatantly nicked every part of his career from superior artists before him.
Rap isn’t just about sounding good; it’s about presenting one’s perspective to the world in hopes that we’ll learn a little something from one another. There is no such perspective here. Above all Don’t Be S.A.F.E. is frustrating as hell because it’s a waste of potential. There are some really good sounds here, but if Trinidad Jame$ can’t rap consistently over a measly ten-song mixtape then why should anyone pay attention?
Because he looks like this. OK. Thanks.