Prolific might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of the caterwauling, 20-year-old Ohio-native Trippie Redd, but the young man certainly has a plentiful discography under his belt. Counting his EPs and mixtapes, Trippie has more than 10 projects for the masses to fall in love with and sing along to. His style badgers the ear into submission in the best way, with the highs of his vocal performance sounding otherworldly and appropriately guttural given his emotive subject matter.
“I just love making music,” Trippie tells me over the phone. He promises that he beats burnout by outworking it. His explanation comes with a laugh. “I try to make music when I feel certain ways, and I’m always in the studio. I try to put out shit before I get tired of it. You end up getting what I worked on last year, and I’ve got a whole project that I’m working on that no one’s heard yet. That’s how it always goes.”
Trippie Redd’s latest album, !, pulls from rock and hip-hop in similar turns. He finds himself neatly slotting into the generation of artists peering outside of hip-hop to expand the genre from within. Trippie’s sensibilities on ! are varied, and his success comes most naturally when he uses hip-hop as a foundation for his vast experimentation, as on “Under Enemy Arms.” The real victory of Trippie Redd, however, is the gummy sound of his unmistakable voice.
There is but one man in rap who can wail and wallow the way Trippie Redd can, and he knows this. All over !, he uses that unique vocal tone to his advantage.
“I mainly try to freestyle everything,” Trippie tells me. “I really like humming, and I mumble stuff. Ultimately, if I do a fire melody that I think I would wanna hear over and over again, I put words to it.” As Trippie speaks, you can hear him grin at the thought of his voice being the cornerstone of his career. There’s a pure joy to our conversation, a journalist happy to get a quote and a young man happy to get some shine for sounding like his true self.
While ! pulls from many directions, Trippie assures me that finding the balance and sticking to his hip-hop roots comes naturally to him. He calls balancing his plethora of sounds an “instinct,” one that has him spitting bars at breakneck speeds before slipping into an unctuous melody. His flows meld into one another, making ! an easy listen with startlingly high highs. These highs come as a result of Trippie’s studio rat mentality. He locks in and stops taking care of himself, but it’s all for the good of the music. Besides, Trippie never does anything too reckless when in album mode.
“I sit in the studio, and party, and do all types of crazy shit,” Trippie says of his album creation process. “Everything is always an experiment in the studio. I try to do everything differently and be so versatile with my music. Coming up with different melodies, different sounds. I’m always into sonics. That’s what I put my all into.”
The highs of ! also come by way of Trippie’s newfound passion for perfection. Always carrying a passing interest in craft, for this album, Trippie Redd locked in with the hopes of putting the finishing touches on something special. As you’ll notice, this album is his most polished work to date, with sudden special attention to detail that proves the young artist is growing into his own.
“Putting the last few mixes on everything and seeing everything as a whole was my big thing,” Trippie tells me of his favorite recording memory. “I never really perfect anything I do. I try to really leave it as is and maybe turn it up a bit. This time, I put the songs together, mixed them, made them clean, made them sound crispy. That’s what I learned, I guess, putting [the album] together, making it better.”
“Better,” for Trippie Redd, means more versatility, bigger sounds, and a grander vision for his career. I ask Trippie what he would do if he could only make one style of music for the rest of his career, to which he tells me he wouldn’t make it. “I have to be versatile,” he urges. “I have to use any sound and let my voice do anything. I don’t think I would be able to last without being versatile.”
Whether he knows it or not, Trippie’s answer strikes at the heart of what makes his career so special: His sound is for everyone. There’s unique accessibility in his medley of hip-hop, rock, pop-punk aesthetic, and pop song structure. Everyone can take a bite, and looking at his impressive charting history and Platinum plaques, everyone has.
Though Trippie is only 20, and though his career is both in its infancy and at its height, we get on the topic of legacy. What should people expect from Trippie Redd in five years? Apparently, the world.
“Expect an evolution of craft, that’s gon’ be timeless,” he says after a laugh. “It would be one of the greatest projects I ever do, in five years. It would be the most evolved work I ever did. I learn something new about music every day. I learn every time I hit the booth and make a song. In five years, my songs are gonna be way crazier than my songs now.”
We’ll be waiting.