It’s safe to say that before Friday’s release of Life’s A Trip, 19-year-old Ohio rapper Trippie Redd was quite simply one of the most highly-touted rappers with the most eagerly-anticipated albums of the year. From his warmly-received surprise appearance at Coachella during SZA’s extended set to his appearance on the 2018 XXL Freshman list, to his invitation to appear on Jimmy Kimmel’s latest “Mean Tweets” segment — surely, the brightest indicator that one has finally “made it” — his rise from the primordial obscurity of Soundcloud has met all the criteria for description as “meteoric.”
In a rap landscape defined by the proliferation of so-called “Soundcloud rappers,” Trippie is perhaps the most Soundcloud rapper of all. It’s like someone built the kid in a lab for the express purpose of pissing off hip-hop purists. With his dyed locs, facial ink, multicolored grills, and heavy metal, punk rock-inspired wardrobe, he’s everything a raised-in-the-90s rap aficionado loves to hate, only he can rap way too well for their complaints to ever hold water. His multiple arrests over the course of the past year and proximity both musically and personally to controversial personalities like Tekashi 69 and the Xxxtentacion only generated more intrigue.
With all that said, it’s been difficult to get a handle on just who Trippie is behind his unconventional appearance and his trademark howl. His flow weaves easily between a carefree, lilting singsong and a disgruntled, unsettling, primal whine — at least when he isn’t giving traditionalists like J. Cole a run for their money with multisyllabic, stacked rhyme patterns straight out of the mid-90s New York alternative scene. He’s a veritable Swiss Army knife of styles and influences, but the one thing that’s remained elusive as he’s risen to prominence is a sense of autobiography. There’s the standard litany of Soundcloud rap tropes — depression, heartbreak, swaggering, rags-to-riches boasts, and yes, plenty of simulated drug use — but nothing that has set him apart from his peers aside from that throat-wrecking singing voice.