As of this morning, Trippie Redd, an 18-year-old rapper, with red hair and face tats, who is often seen sporting a Gucci mask, is the 199th most popular artist in the world, according to the digital data provided by Kworb, the result of a guest appearance on XXXTentacion's Billboard-charting single "Fuck Love" and his own newly-released project, A Love Letter to You 2.
By any metric, Redd, a native of Canton, Ohio, is on an upward trajectory, but in a new interview with Billboard, he expressed frustration and mild concern over being judged by his appearance instead of his material.
"It's not what it looks like [Laughs]. That's all I can say," Redd told Billboard. "People just be trying to judge books by its cover and I can understand. I'm a funny-looking motherfucker, I got shit going on, I got red hair, I got tats on my face, you feel me? I got a bunch of 14's tatted on me. That's how they can judge me off the rip, but it's like, all this shit got meaning. I ain't doing all this for nothing. I'm a human at the end of the day, like I really do this. I ain't ass, I can rap, for real. I can sing for real. That's what they misinterpret me for, like I'm a mumble rapper or something."
He's right, he ain't ass. Redd can actually rap really well—though nobody is listening to that material—and his songwriting skills and understanding of melody are both impressive regardless of his age. But despite the fact that music isn't a visual art form, like say, ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, film or architecture—all of which require sight in order to be fully appreciated—the skill set of an artist, rap or otherwise, will always be prejudged by their image. This is, unfortunately, the result of living in a highly-opinionated, highly-judgemental, racist world.
So, should Trippie Redd change up his image in order to avoid the "mumble rapper" comparisons and open up his music to a broader fanbase? Great question.
Redd is a kid who is making music, professionally, who in the same Billboard interview expressed a desire to win GRAMMYs and land on billboards (though, to his credit, he's already landed on at least twobillboards). While he shouldn't have to change up his image, his style, or his attire to achieve these goals—he's not trying to get hired as a kindergarten teacher or an airplane pilot or a proctologist—if his aim is to be taken more seriously as an artist, and he personally knows and understands that his appearance is turning people off from pressing play, a few subtle changes might be in his long-term best interest.
Of course, this is bullshit. No human being, artist or otherwise, should be judged by their appearance or feel required to make changes to their appearance in order to succeed. If you show up to work every day, put in the time, and pump out a great product, it shouldn't matter if you have red hair or blonde hair or blue hair or no hair.
Really, it all depends on Redd and whether or not he has the desire to prove to music fans beyond those who are already tuned in that he's more than the latest flavor of the month. For the time being, it doesn't sound like any changes are in the pipeline.
"One thing I'm not going to do is change up anything," Redd added. "Like, I'm always gonna be me. I'm not gonna compromise, change shit, I'm gonna be the same nigga."