Trigga is quietly becoming one of South Carolina’s most beloved local artists, and with good reason too.

One of the beautiful things about rap music is that it progressively changes and there is always a new face itching to become a person that holds a prominent place. The genre is one of those complexities that holds a few abstract artists, more conscious ones, and just a few that don’t need to be in the arena at all. Trigga is neither of these things as he is one of those artists that stands out and demands your attention. His voice is deep, gritty, and it speaks of a young man who has experienced turbulence, the trap, fast money, and fast women first hand. In all the years I have been a lover to rap music and have studied the greats. I can say there are many similarities to them and this young man tenfold. Trigga’s raspy and rough vocal range can be compared to Jadakiss and Lloyd Banks. His lyrics are reminiscent to T.I. on his magnum opus, Trap Muzik (2003.) There is a direct correlation of his lyrics and his personality; he says what he feels and feels what he says. In lack of better terms, he doesn’t bullshit his feelings at all. Trigga is all business, and it’s that attitude that has earned him respect not only on the South Carolina streets, but its local artist revenue as well. He’s the guy many local and aspiring artists go to for approval and want to feature. His presence is felt and it’s a trait that many people wish to obtain.

Trigga is a whopping 19-years-old, but there is a certain air about him that makes you think that he is older. On common sight, one can look at him and think that he’s just an average young man around the way, but listening to him speak proves otherwise. He has projected a sense of wisdom, knowledge, and social commentary that a man double his age would possess. He is someone who has surpassed the stereotype that young Black men who are born in “the hood” become products of their environments (As shown of his lyrics on “Fool Me Once”: “But you know I got knowledge/ Far from ignorant/ Hard to tell with the drugs and the violence.”). If I could summarize his attitude in three words, I would easily pick charismatic, confident, and collected. The three C’s. He has enough charisma that makes you pay attention to whatever it is that he is saying. He’s confident enough to know you’ll listen. In any social scenario, he stays collected and doesn’t fold under pressure. He not only makes to be a great rapper, but a great person to analyze.

When I think of rap music from South Carolina, there’s not many people that come to mind. The late Speaker Knockerz is a person who put the state on a good rise with his party anthems and acclaimed “Rico’s Story” trilogy. Trap artist Young Jeezy gives the state some credibility as it is his birth place. However, is South Carolina as influential as places such as California, Atlanta, and New York? With the afflux of local artists that come from the state, there can be a big boom to continue the popularity of South Carolina that Speaker Knockerz once started. When I can go to different areas such as upstate Columbia, Moncks Corner, and Charleston, and I can hear Trigga’s music being played, it really shows how much people believe in this guy’s work. He’s appreciated all over his state aside from his own city. A string of hit local songs and an alleged upcoming mixtape makes Trigga a breakout star. So what if he’s not from a state that that hails the greats of rap music? He doesn’t care about that. He has hopes for putting South Carolina on, and he plans to do it on his own accord.

When we did this interview a few months ago, I pondered if he would have the umph that he brings in his music to our sit down. Within the hour I learned of a young man who is smart enough to correct his mistakes, self-reliant to not lean on anyone for help, and is more intelligent than what people give him credit for. Dressed in a white beater, red joggers, and a crisp pair of cocaine white Jordan 1s with a rubber band tied around his wrist, he looks as relaxed as can be. Did I mention the bandanna that is tied around his head, reminiscent to his idol Tupac Shakur? When we discuss his music, his eyes light up with enthusiasm. When talking about life and general topics, he’s very serious, but also humorous and playful. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t have to say much, but you show them respect when they enter a room. He has people that look up to him and he acknowledges that in one of the most humble and modest efforts I’ve ever seen.

Whether he’s showing his hot-headed nature, (a standout line on his signature song, “Keep It G”: “I only fuck with glocks/ My niggas tote the berettas/ Rainin’ bullets/ Hope the pussy nigga totin’ his umbrella”) or the compassion he has, (take his lyrics on “Baby”, an ode to his longtime girlfriend, for instance: “This connection that we got/ It will never get lost”), Trigga makes for a versatile artist with street and book smarts who gives colorful conversation and memorable lines. Down below is the transcript of our conversation and the songs that makes him who he is as an artist.

JAHNAI MONROE (with TheBlackJuice.com): How are you doing today?

TRIGGA: Aw man, I’m great. I told you this was my first interview and I was a little nervous, but I’m real excited.

Okay. So, first things first: Who are you? What makes you the artist that you are?

I’m just me. I’m a real cool, chill, laid back type of nigga. I can’t change that about myself. I think I’m pretty okay to be around, you know? I don’t bother people if they don’t bother me first. My ambition and my drive is what really makes me. Like if I didn’t have that, then I wouldn’t be here right now and I wouldn’t have gotten this much success. I like to think that as cool as I am, I have a really good heart and great intentions for everything. My temper just gets in the way. To be less complex, underneath all this rapping, I’m just Tra’Quan (Trigga’s real name). I’m an ordinary nigga who can rap.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Santee, South Carolina, but Vance [South Carolina] adopted me. I got a lot of love for the people that helped raised me around there.

When did you start rapping?

When I was 13.

Remember your first song?

(Laughs) Yeah. Wanna know what’s crazy, though? I don’t think I recorded my first song. It just happened. I wrote it and just rapped it over and over.

Do you have a mixtape coming out?

Yes I do.

What is it called and what can you tell me about it?

I can’t tell you all of that. (Laughs) I could, but then that’s just spoiling the surprise. It’s a work in progress and I’m planning some things out on it. It’s gonna be me, some local artists that I’m bringing to the table — popular ones at that. I’m hoping that it’ll be major and people get a better feel of what I’m trying to do with my music.

Local artists? I see you do many collaborations with the groups ‘BTE,’ ‘FBG’, and ‘SB.’

Yeah, those are my brothers. There’s a lot of talent in each group.

Tell me what those group’s acronyms stand for? Just for the people who don’t know.

‘BTE’ means Bound Two Entertainment, ‘FBG’ means Fly Boy Gang, and ‘SB’ stands for Slaughter Boyz. I hope to have them on my next mixtape…just so they can experience the success I’ve experienced. I want my brothers to shine.

Many people see you as a top, local artist in South Carolina. Your music’s getting rotation all over the state. How does that make you feel?

It feels good! It gives me motivation, for real. It just drives me to make more music. For me personally, to know that all these people fuck with me and my songs… man. It’s crazy. Knowing I get all this support makes me happy. It pushes me to work harder.

Okay, the song that gave you real popularity and a momentum boost was “Kept It G.” What do you think about that song?

I mean, I like the song because I made it. It’s not my best work, in my opinion. I fuck with it, but not as heavy as everyone else does.

Why not? Many people think that’s your best song.

I think it’s because they like the beat and whatnot. I also think it’s because it’s real. I think people really like it because they know who I was talking about [on the song.] People just love the conflict that the song brings, that’s all. I’m not gonna say that I don’t like what they song did for my career, but I don’t hold it on the same level as everyone else does.

How did your stage name come about?

My dad gave it to me.

That’s cute.

(Laughs) Something like that.

You must be close with your father for you to use a nickname he gave you as your stage name. How is your relationship with your parents?

It’s good. I mean, it’s not the best, but for the most part I have a nice relationship with them.

Your father was incarcerated. Did him being away in jail affect your life or motivate your passion for music in any way?

I would never say that my father’s a deadbeat. You know, he’s in my life and I have much love for him. He’s doing well for himself. [However] The time that he wasn’t in my life – the short period that he was gone- I did have to step up. I had to be man and take care of things. As for my music, yeah. Music was all I really had when he went away.

And you have a great relationship with your dad now?

Yes.

How does being so young propel you to rap about the topics featured in your songs?

Well everything you hear in my music is fact, not opinion. This is stuff that I actually go through and face everyday, you know? I’ve seen the violence, I’ve seen the drug dealing, I’ve seen people being shot at. It’s nothing new. The things that I’ve said that I went through and how I describe myself is true. I can’t rap about nothing that I ain’t seen firsthand.

So your lyrics are authentic?

Of course. You can really get ya ass shot fuckin’ with me or doing some dumb shit in my hood, and I mean that.

What’s your opinion on the music scene in South Carolina?

Hmm, I think we have a lot of talent here. I think a good 80% of the rappers from here are talented. It’s just, everyone’s more concerned with getting to the top and no one wants to help each other out to reach that level. The hate and the competition here is so real. Me personally, I think South Carolina would’ve been put on a long time ago if the local artists would just come together instead of breaking away from each other. But like I said, there’s a good group of talent here; people just don’t know it yet.

Do you feel your momentum growing as an artist and your hype building up?

Yeah! Of course I do! I’ve been going hard and writing a song every single day, sometimes even two [songs]. I’m hungry for the moment I can actually sign a deal or when I actually make it. Even when I do get to that point, my ambition isn’t going to stop. A lot of rappers make it and start making some bullshit and giving it back to the streets. They only care about how much money they make and how many Instagram or Twitter followers they have. That’ll never be me.

Let’s talk about you. Do you think you’re a good rapper?

Yeah. When I first started rapping, I didn’t have that much confidence in myself. I knew my lyrics wasn’t wack or anything, but I can tell you that my confidence in my rapping was low. I’ve gotten over that now. Based on what the people say and how I feel now, I think I’m a good rapper. I think I’m a great rapper at that.

You seem to be so successful in music, popularity… are you successful when it comes to education? What’s your stance on that topic?

Education is very important to me. Remember how I said without women you have no world? Well without education, you’re nothing. Don’t matter how well you can rap or how pretty you are. If you’re not educated, then what’s your purpose for anything? School’s very important. It may be funny hearing me say that because I’ve been kicked out of school four times… but it’s honestly what I think.

Wow! Four times?!

Yep. That’s crazy, right?

It is. Do you regret that happening?

I don’t regret being kicked out from [school name omitted]. Fuck that school, I hated it anyway. In no way am I saying it’s okay to get kicked out of school, but for me, it was just something that happened. I do regret it, though. I had the opportunity to graduate, you know? I was supposed to be in the Class of 2016 and I messed it up. I could’ve walked across the stage with my classmates and accepted my diploma. I had a few opportunities that I messed up and things just didn’t turn out well. I mean, it’s not that I’m bad or I’m just a troublemaker. I did well in school and all my teachers could tell you that I was a really smart kid. I still am.

If I had the chance to go back, I would. I’d take the first opportunity I was presented with. Not from [school name omitted]. They focused on the wrong things instead of making sure the students got an actual education.

What was your family’s reaction to you being kicked out of school?

(Laughs) I mean, shit. They didn’t like it. What family would like hearing your son or your nephew got kicked out of school? Especially when this was my senior year and I could’ve graduated, they were disappointed. Everything happens for a reason, though. I’m not upset and they support me in what I’m doing now.

What were you like in school?

A smart ass. I was smart, extremely intelligent and even attended the magnet program in middle school — that was pretty much a way of saying you were at more of an advanced level. I could do the work, I just didn’t feel like it. Everyone knew me, though. If you saw me, you know I was just me. I was funny, people knew I was cool, and for the most part I was chilling. I got to high school and I told you before, I hated the school I went to. But, I was very smart. I was good in Math and English, I was an athlete… all around I was a great kid. I just didn’t want to do the work I was assigned and I didn’t mesh with the faculty at school. I thought they were assholes. I just don’t understand how a school can constantly tell the students they care about us [students] so much, and then kick us out so easy and with no remorse.

As smart as you are, you’ve had run ins with the law. How many?

Eh…I can’t say.

More than 10?

Perhaps. (Laughs)

Can I ask what those run ins were about? What was the aftermath concerning each one?

I won’t tell you all of them, but I’ll tell you one case: I was caught with some marijuana. They caught me on a petty marijuana possession charge and roughed me up over it. I think that’s the police problem: I can have a little bit of weed and they try to beat my ass, but let it be a white boy: he would’ve walked away clean. I know me having the marijuana was wrong, but I didn’t deserve all of that. Being roughed up? Nah. I know my rights. Fuck 12. The police department isn’t looking to help black men and they treat us wrong on petty crimes.

You seem to be a real advocate for Black rights in America. What’s your plan for changing the system?

Shit… encourage young Black men to do better and stay educated. I’d attempt to do it, but I don’t have the patience and my temper is fucked up.

Yeah, you mentioned your temper earlier. Your temper seems to be a real problem!

Yeah. I’m just a person who has that problem. I’m bothered easily and it doesn’t take much to get under my skin. My temper…man. It’s gotten me into some serious shit, but I always got myself out of it. Whether it was fighting or any other thing along those lines, I handled it. I’ve grown a lot in these few months to a year, though. My temper is still bad but it was worse then. Shit, I’m one of the realest niggas you’ll ever meet. I know how I am. I know I’m very hostile and can finish something as soon as it’s started. That’s just me. I’m trying my hardest to change, but you know what they say: old habits die hard.

I think life is kinda about growing and advancing yourself as a person. So for me to still be that angry— even though I still am, my anger’s just lowered now— means I ain’t growing through life. As stubborn as I can be, I know better then to keep putting myself in these situations. Shit, it’s not benefiting me that much. You said it yourself: I’m smart. I’m intelligent and have a great thinking process. So nobody should be thinking my temper means I’m dumb or somethin’. When I’m angry, I just see red. My temper’s terrible, I admit that. I’m a work in progress.

So what do you do to manage your anger?

I just let shit go, and I kinda just let shit be. I’m still working on myself, but I got a small support system that keeps me level headed. I don’t flip out and react to every situation anymore. I’m not looking to fight, shoot or do any other crazy shit with anybody. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll still do it if I have to, but it’s not my first go to solution anymore. I just try to think like, “If I do this or that, and I get sent to jail, what’s gonna happen to my career?” I’m still getting hype. So for me to be at this point, and then fuck up, it’s like “Well what the fuck was the point of all this hard work?” I think about my temper and my career all the time. I can’t still be thinking like a little boy anymore. I’m a man now. I got responsibilities to take care and a dream to chase after.

We’ve had a long conversation. We talked about so much! You’re a really honest person.

All I can be is honest. I’ve got nothing to hide. Once you start hiding shit, you stop being real.

Any last real words for our readers?

Yeah. I’m coming. My projects are coming soon, and I’m doing big things. Stay on the look out for me.

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