William Lee Barefield III (born December 17, 1987), better known by his stage name Trip Lee, is an American Christian rapper, singer, poet, author and pastor. He was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Signed to Reach Records, he has recorded both as a solo artist and as a founding member of the Southern Christian Collective 116 Clique.
He now resides in Dallas, Texas, and is a young adult pastor at Concord Church, the church he grew up in. He first gained recognition after appearing on the Reach Records website at the age of 16. His third album, Between Two Worlds, was nominated for two Dove Awards and won the Stellar Award for Best Hip Hop Album in 2011.
While growing, Trip Lee always had dreams of becoming either an athlete or a rapper. He devoted time to both crafts, particularly his lyrical skills from around the age of 12. “I rapped about random stuff…how hot I was, how many girls I could pull,” Trip says.
When he was 14, he gave his life to Christ and his focus changed forever. He decided not to rap about getting girls and random stuff, but about the Gospel and Christ’s love. “One day, I just decided, I’m only doing Christian hip hop. Rappers like Ambassador and Da Truth helped provide a model for how I would begin to do that,” he says.
Lee’s desire to grow in God intensified as he became involved in his church’s youth group; preaching his first sermon at the age of 17. In 2004, he met fellow Reach Records artist Lecrae at a concert. The two started building a relationship and Lecrae began mentoring Lee.
Watch Trip Lee’s Manolo featuring Lecrae, off his Rise album here:
While still in high school, Trip Lee was given the opportunity to write a few devotionals for the Reach Records website that dealt with theological matters and showcased his spiritual maturity.
Trip signed with Reach Records, and his debut album, If They Only Knew, hit stores nationwide in 2006, a few days after his high school graduation. His first full-length album introduced hip-hop fans to his distinct southern sound, unique delivery and gospel-saturated lyrics.
The year proved to be filled with highlights as Lee was also featured on the Dove Award-nominated Jesus Muzik with his label mate Lecrae.
His sophomore album, 2008’s 20/20, featured guest and Reach Records labelmates Lecrae, Tedashii, and Sho Baraka. Not only did it break into the Billboard Top 200, but also reaching #11 on the Billboard Christian albums chart and #4 on the Gospel chart.
Trip Lee has been on the move since breaking into the Christian rap scene; touring the world, preaching and teaching at various conferences.
His success continued with Between Two Worlds in 2010, his first to top the Billboard Christian charts. In the album, Trip offers a collection of reflections on life in a fallen world. True to form, his hope is that his reflections not only resonate with listeners, but also point to Jesus as the Hero.
His second chart-topper, The Good Life, arrived two years later and also broke onto the rap charts. The album featured various notable Christian artists, such as Sho Baraka, J.R., Lecrae, J.Paul, KB, Andy Mineo, Jimmy Needham, V. Rose, Suzy Rock, Jai, and Leah SmithLee. He published a book of the same name months later.
On October 9, 2012, Lee announced he would be “stepping away” from music altogether. The Unashamed 2012 tour with the Reach Records roster was his final tour before pursuing a career as an author and pastor. He later clarified that while he would continue to make music, he wouldn’t be touring as much.
Lee released his fifth studio album on October 27, 2014 entitled Rise, his highest-charting Billboard 200 entry (number 16) and his third Top Three Christian chart entry. A book accompanying his latest album was released on January 27, 2015 entitled Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story.
Lee’s sixth studio album, The Waiting Room, appeared near the end of 2016. The title was inspired by a line in the song, Take Me There from his, The Good Life album. He says the album highlights the fact that, as a Christian, his life is much like sitting in a waiting room, looking for what God has ahead.
Trip Lee married the love of his life in 2009 Jessica Lee, the two currently have two children.