But according to James, if you’re criticizing him, it’s because you just don’t get him.

“My success came so fast — and it’s different,” James says modestly. “A lot of times in life when we don’t understand something, 8 out of 10 times, we’re gonna go negative before we go positive. It’s very rare that something happens that you don’t understand and you [respond with] ‘Oh, that’s good.’ You’re gonna think it’s bad because you don’t understand it. And with misunderstanding, comes negative thoughts. That’s just how life is. It’s something to get used to. But it is what it is. I gotta do me.”

The mantra of “I gotta do me” came up a lot in a conversation with Trinidad James. And that phrase seems to be the unofficial slogan of a new generation of hip-hop stars who believe in themselves and their abilities. Regardless of how much older fans and media may pine for the genre’s “golden age” of the 1980s and 1990s, a brash new crop of artists are doing it their way. And they could care less how you feel about it.

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Stereo Williams

Todd "Stereo" Williams, entertainment writer based in New York City. He co-founded Thirty 2 Oh 1 Productions, an indie film company.

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