“I’m in the back with a shotty (shotty)
I’m in the back with your bitch she get naughty (naughty)
She get to trippin and shit off a molly (molly)
The drugs gon’ lift her away like a dolly (dolly)”
Nobody wants to be Abe Simpson. The implication is simple — you’re bitching about something that’s completely harmless for no good reason. I put more thought into that when reviewing albums like Trippie Redd’s “Mansion Musik” than a little bit. Just because I grew up with legendary rappers like Chuck D and Ice Cube doesn’t mean every decade of rap should be judged through their lens. Styles change and evolve from one generation to the next. While I’m nowhere near Abe’s age yet, I’m nowhere near as young as Trippie Redd either (23). I have nephews and nieces his age. Before I judge him too harshly I have to consider that he’s not making rap music for people my age, or even necessarily for people their age, but for people younger than him.
When I look at “KRZY TRAIN” featuring Travis Scott through that lens, it makes a lot more sense. This is the rebellious spirit of the youth, set to a pounding bass and hypnotic notes from Bacon and Popcorn, a production team whose name immediately makes me want a snack. This is the modern day Ozzy Osbourne rap song. “Are you ready? All aboard the fuckin crazy train.” It’s not meant to embody thoughtful dialogue or portray virtuous behavior. Much of Trippie Redd’s music over the years can be looked at through an entirely different lens — one called YOLO — even though that term is undoubtedly dated and cornball to his listeners. He and Lil Durk certainly rap like there’s no tomorrow on “MUSCLES” and given the uncertain times we live in they might be right.
As much as I try to fight my inner old man who yells at clouds, I look at previous Trippie Redd reviews and can see I was a bit salty. It’s very hard to distance yourself from the context you have whether as a critic or an entertainer. I write with the perspective of what people call the “golden era” of rap, even though I’ve done reviews of vintage albums with a gold plated veneer that don’t hold up in today’s era. Trippie Redd raps with the perspective of what people call the “SoundCloud era” of rap, where production and recording techniques matriculated from the elite to the masses, and the new accessibility resulted in an entirely new and heavily modulated sound. We come from different times yet we both live in the context of this being rap music. His audience might think Rakim and Nas are old fogies. Mine might think he and his peers are talentless hacks. Who’s right?
What I’ve been avoiding for the last few paragraphs is the uncomfortable truth that the music of Trippie Redd doesn’t appeal to me that much. Actually I’ll rephrase that — the content of Trippie Redd’s rap doesn’t appeal to me. The Zodiac track of “Biggest Bird” is just fine. It’s not that traditional boom bap rap, or that West coast G-Funk, or that sample laden reference heavy rap, or even the stripped down minimalist style track. The beats of today’s wavy rappers, trap rappers, drill rap artists and SoundCloud emcees are an entirely different animal. If there’s one thing I don’t hate about the current generation, it’s the dirty bass and pounding beats, and their willingness to experiment with unique production techniques. I can listen to “Mansion Musik” for 76 minutes and it’s fine as background music, but if I start paying attention to tracks like “WITCHCRAFT” the bars are so relentlessly negative it accidentally becomes a turnoff.
“I don’t need no one that have my back, I got this wealth
I don’t need no one to buy shit, I like stealth
I don’t need no one but my bitch until we melt”
Rap has always dealt with nihilism and negativity. We can’t pretend that a lot of today’s youth don’t grow up in a world without any hope for their future, and we can’t act surprised when the music they make reflects that darkness. I can’t say Trippie Redd is wrong for that. I can’t even say that his persona on his songs isn’t that — a person he portrays on his albums that’s not an actual reflection of Michael Lamar White the 2nd. Let’s not confuse the music for the man. He’s undoubtedly a caring, generous, thoughtful individual, but I don’t know him personally to be able to say either way.
I can only say that what he portrays on “Mansion Musik” gets real selfish. You can’t tell him “NUN.” Every woman is a bitch who exists only to service him. Every man is jealous of his money and success, and we all know what happens to the opps. For an album with so many featured guest stars, it still feels incredibly lonely and isolated in Trippie Redd’s world, and that’s just depressing when I’m paying close attention. If you can enjoy the music in a vacuum without his lyrics affecting you like they do me, more power to you. Not all negative rap bothers me, but Trippie Redd’s dour outlook isn’t for me, no matter how much that winds up making me like Grandpa Simpson.