Last night Trinidad James sat down with CNN’s Don Lemon to address a video in which an elderly white woman is seen using the n-word while she sings along to his 2013 hit “All Gold Everything.”
Clarifying previous statements he made about the video, James explained why he’s more concerned with a group of University of Oklahoma fraternity students caught singing a racist frat chant.
Last week a video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members chanting a racist song on a school bus surfaced and has since resulted in the removal of the fraternity from the university, according to NPR. The release of another video showing the frat’s “house mom,” a woman named Beauton Gilbow, repeating the n-word over Trinidad James’ music has been seen as a revelation regarding the racist nature of the organization as a whole.
“I seen that actually two years ago when it came out,” James said of the video featuring Gilbow. “I didn’t say anything about it because life is just so much bigger than that. It’s a very rock and a hard place and a catch-22 type of situation when it comes to racism and that particular word.”
When asked if he thinks Gilbow is racist as a function of the video, Trinidad James answered with a qualifier.
“I think that she comes from racism,” he said. “She’s 79-years old. 79 years ago, whatever year that is, she has seen tons and tons and tons of racist acts. Going off her age and seeing that right there, I don’t think that when she was doing that she was doing it to be a protester or anything. But it tickled her because she knows where she came from. That’s how I feel about that.”
Segueing into a discussion about who should be allowed to use the n-word, James shied away from a definitive answer before being pressed.
“Should she be allowed to say it? I think that every race it’s always about how you’re saying it,” he said. “I didn’t defend it just in general, I’m way more focused on those students on the bus. That’s what I’m focused on. That hurt,” he added.
The former Def Jam rapper went on to question the use of the n-word in Hip Hop more generally.
“What I wanna ask the world and all the rappers that have been doing this forever, when you go to a show and you’re performing your songs and you’ve sold out. Shouts out to Big Sean, he just sold a great album. You got Kendrick Lamar album just dropped last night, it’s great,” he said. “The first opening line on Kendrick Lamar’s new album is, ‘Every nigga is a star.’ That’s the first thing. Some of the biggest songs ever use it. So when you go to your show and you’re performing, me personally, I’ve never seen an artist stop the show like, ‘You guys can’t use this word.’ In general, to get to the nitty gritty of the bottom of this, if we have a problem with the word and it’s gonna continue to cause things, we should eliminate the word period. If we’re gonna use the word people are gonna use the word.”