Unlike most rappers, Don Trip doesn’t rap just to get rich. In an era of Hip-Hop where hard work is paying off more than ever, many MCs have upped their output in hopes of capitalizing on the law of averages. Yet, for the Memphis up & comer who’s currently on one of the genre’s hottest streaks, the relentless amount of releases he’s put out over the past year aren’t because he’s trying to show off his new found clout. Instead, the man most known for a captivating single about fighting for custody of his child, “Letter To My Son” with Cee-Lo, uses music as a release for both him and his family.
Often aggressive and always heartfelt, the humble Interscope artist recently took time out of the grind to break down his upcoming Guerilla mixtape for TSS Crew’s BEWARE and explain how simply expelling his frustrations through the mic helped propel his career past half rap’s new jacks. Still, despite his success, it ain’t getting any easier being Don Trip.
TSS: Aside from just being courteous, I’m wondering how you’re doing. I saw on Twitter earlier, where you said “still fighting for my parental rights. To be continued.” Is it another rough day with the judicial system?
Don Trip: Yeah. I just left trying to get visitation and they sent my court date off until July 30.
TSS: Ugh. Five more months of waiting, just like that. I bet you had a lot expectations going into today, too. Then, they just push it off.
Don: Hey, it is what it is.
TSS: What does it feel like to live life with a double-edged sword, where the realities that made “Letter To My Son” a hit song are still keeping you up at night?
Don Trip: Well, I appreciate getting some bright side to it. I feel the success made it a little bit lighter. It didn’t fix the situation, but you know, it improved my feelings a little bit.
TSS: Is it easier to go through, knowing you’re not alone and that others are dealing with the same struggles as you?
Don Trip: Nah, it actually makes it worse. It make me feel like it ain’t gonna get no better. It’s too normal. This is usual.
TSS: I didn’t think of it from that point of view. That’s crazy. I do know how much of a toll the whole ordeal is taking on you though, because I saw you getting a little choked up during an interview on Shade 45, where people from all over the world were calling in and saying how they connected to the song. What was it like rocking the single, acapella, for Russell Simmons about two minutes later?
Don Trip: Actually, that was like I was in two different worlds. You know, I was Chris for a moment during the phone calls. Then, when Russell walked in, Don Trip kicked in.
TSS: Yeah, the first thing I thought when I watched that was how you have more highs and lows than just about any other rapper out right now. It makes for great music.
Don Trip: Yeah, most definitely.
TSS: Another deep song you recently released is the critically acclaimed “Allen Iverson.” What does that record mean to you?
Don Trip: The “Allen Iverson” record, it was more of what we just said. It’s just to show that the trials we go through are so common, but when celebrities go through them, we tend to forget that they human. We put people so far up on a pedestal that when they do make mistakes, that’s when we start crucifying them. I feel like that’s something that’s bound to happen to me, too. Like when I reach a certain point, people are going to put me on that pedestal and one day, when I make one mistake – no matter how small that is – they gonna crucify me the same. And, I just wanted to show people that I’m aware of that and I’m cautious of that. I feel that people have to remember, no matter how far we go, we’re all still human.
TSS: All of which is very true, and coming from someone who’s beginning to experience it firsthand. However, you’ve also seen from an outside point of view, that Allen didn’t handle certain circumstances as well as he could have, specifically later in his career. What steps are you taking to avoid the same hang-ups that hurt Iverson?
Don Trip: Well, not to throw any daggers at him, but I feel like me keeping in mind that none of this is promised or guaranteed and playing every game like it’s my last…I feel like that’s what’s gonna keep me going. That’ll keep me on the right path, no matter how many mistakes I make.
TSS: Down the road, when you’re 40 years old and deep in the game, would you ever take a leadership role and sit the bench if the coach called for it?
Don Trip: It depends. It depends on the circumstances. Sometimes you can’t….just like now, the situation I’m in isn’t what I would have preferred, but so be it. This is what I’m in, so I gotta’ fight for it.
TSS: Moving on to the mixtape itself, I think it would be fair to say Guerrilla might be your biggest release to date. However, there are around… twenty Don Trip mixtapes available for fans to download online.
Don Trip: (Laughs)
TSS: You’ve also been on the record saying you’ve recorded well over 1000 songs. Obviously, your work ethic is speaks for itself. But, with that said, what separates Guerrilla from your past work?
Don Trip: Guerrilla is actually more up-to-date material, material from after the deal until this point. And, of course, I’ve experienced a lot of things between then and now. I feel like I’ve grown more. Guerrilla is more like an album. Well, Help Is On The Way is actually the album, but Guerrilla is more of a full picture of who Don Trip is and something to set you up for the album, where you’ll go even deeper into who Don Trip is.
TSS: So, it’s the alley-oop before the slam dunk?
Don Trip: Indeed. It’s the fast break.
TSS: What are some of the highlights from the tape we can look forward to?
Don Trip: There’s a record on the Gangsta Grillz called “Trapped In The Trap.” There’s actually a twist, but I won’t give the twist away. It’s a record about being trapped in the trap. They call it a trap for a reason. And, of course, the title of the record makes you think it’d be about trappin,’ but that’s actually the twist to it. It’s one of those records where you actually have to listen to it. It’s really quite thought-provoking.
TSS: It’s an inside-out point of view, to set straight those looking in.
Don Trip: More like how “Allen Iverson” was a record that showed how me and Allen closely relate, this is a record that shows dope boys ain’t the only ones in the trap.
TSS: Beyond the mixtape, what can we look forward to from Help Is On The Way?
Don Trip: I get to go deeper with Help Is On The Way, of course, being that it’s the album and promoted bigger and put on a bigger scale. There’s a record on there, called “Too Little, Too Late,” which is…I won’t say it’s an apology record, but it’s a record that goes deeper into the relationship between me and my baby momma.
I got a record called “Running Away,” actually, which is about the true 16 & Pregnant. There’s a lot more records on there where I get to show who I am personally, what’s going on now and what was going on when I was growing up. I get show that more on the album than I do on the mixtape. The mixtape mostly is about getting show money and showing people I really can do this.
TSS: Got you. The tape is giving the people what they want to hear. The album is you opening up a little more. Are there any artists or producers helping you pull out those emotions on the album?
Don Trip: Actually, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, they were like one of the main people that gave me the avenue to express more. Of course, Cool ‘N Dre, they on the album. The Renegades. Boi-1da. You know, I’ve got a very large cast of producers. As far as artists, though, I’ve only got Cee-Lo on the album, actually.
TSS: Really? That’s pretty respectable. I guess you’ve got enough to say, huh?
Don Trip: (Laughs) Indeed. Indeed. I wanted to give you my story and not taint it with so many features. A lot of times artists do. And, especially with me being a new artist, I feel like the more of me I can give you, the better.
TSS: For the album, you’ve said that you’ve been given a little more clout, if you will, with better promotions and more doors open to other artists. But, is there any downside to being signed to a major label?
Don Trip: Ummmmm, I don’t know. I couldn’t really say. For the most part, I try to stay optimistic about it. Of course, I’m on the priority list. So, I gotta’ stay grinding and stay on that priority list. And, of course, being human…I still do regular things. So, it’s a little difficult to do certain things when you got everybody paying attention to you and everyone with expectations so high. You know, despite what your expectations for yourself. But, other than that, I wouldn’t say there are too many cons to it.
TSS: That’s good to hear, especially with all the negativity these days towards majors. Apparently it’s all about having the right situation in place, which it seems like you do.
Moving more into just Hip-Hop, in general, I’ve heard that you don’t freestyle and won’t make diss records. So, obviously, you’re not trying to be the best rapper ever. That’s just not you. What’s the biggest thing you’re trying to achieve with Hip-Hop?