Christian Rap artist, author and pastor, Trip Lee emerged on the music scene right around 2006, with the release of his debut album, If They Only Knew. Trip was a young talent with a passion for music, but he had little expectations of being accepted by a mainstream audience. Fast forward 10+ years and Trip has five studio album including the highly successful fifth album, titled Rise, which peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Rap charts.
Trip Lee, in an interview, talks about The Waiting Room (his mixtape), his latest book, how he’s felt about his move to Atlanta to become a pastor, the Trip Lee BRAG website, his health and battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, his other upcoming projects and much more. Check out the Trip Lee interview below.
How’d you feel about the success of the project Rise?
I felt great about it. That’s the interesting thing about putting out music. You try to perfect it, work really hard, it’s like my baby by the time I put it out there, so any time people love the music, support the music, it means a lot to me. The response was dope. Two songs in particular people responded to and really loved, one was Sweet Victory that’s the song where I hear the most people say it had a big impact on them. I’m talking about my health and being in the midst of that. People all the time will come up to me and say, ‘I got M.S. and this helps me,’ or ‘I have cancer and I listened to that during chemo‘, or ‘I was suicidal and that song saved my life‘, so that means a lot to me.
And then Manolo is another one that really caught on. The thing with that one is there are hundreds of dance videos to it—it caught on in the dance community for some reason. So that was dope too. It’s always cool for me to sit in my office or in the studio and write a song, work on it and then to see how it just spreads and goes all over the place.
Watch Manolo here:
The mixtape, The Waiting Room, how long did it take for you to put this project together?
I started working on it in about March and originally I was just going to do an EP and record it all in a month, but it really didn’t go that way. The music felt like it deserved more than just that little bit of time and it’s hard for me to just put a bunch of music out. I want it to be great, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. And then we decided that we didn’t just want to do an EP because I had a lot of songs that we really loved. I just kept kinda grinding on it—and I do a lot of other stuff too, I’m a pastor, I write, so I took some time away from it and then came back to it. So yeah, it started in March and I just kept slowly chipping away at it and getting it together.
Why a mixtape and not a full album? I mean, once you have ten songs, you might as well do an album?
Yeah yeah, part of it was I had a concept for the album and a timeline for the album already in mind, but people kept hitting me up asking about new music, ‘we want to hear something from you and we want to hear what you doing’. I really wanted to give them something in the meantime. I did think about, eh, why don’t we just turn this into the album, but I felt like let’s do the mixtape, let it lead up into the album and keep grinding on the album.
That said, are you happy with your spot in music and the industry right now?
I was talking about this earlier. When I first started, my first album, that was 2006. I wrote it while I was in high school. I said on a song, “And I don’t care if I never make the Billboard charts…” and I never thought I would. I never thought a rapper like me was going to be able to. My next album ended up really low on the Billboard 200 charts and I was surprised for it to be on Billboard at all. For the last album to rise to be number two when it came out, that was really crazy for me. So I am really pleased. But more than that, the impact I see that the music makes, the people that enjoy it and who are impacted by it, I love it and I want to just keep on pressing and hopefully more and more people will continue to enjoy it.
A lot of people still see Christian Hip-Hop and they automatically won’t touch it, but if there’s one track on The Waiting Room project that you feel like those people have to listen to, what would that be?
That’s hard. I want people to hear Too Cold cause that’s one that I think has a broader appeal, so I want people to hear that. There’s another one called I Don’t Know, which is just being real about how hard life is. In this song, I’m actually talking to God and I’m like, life sucks, I feel like you don’t care about me and I pray and you don’t answer my prayers. So that’s kind of the whole thing… “I throw my prayers to the ceiling, but I feel like you don’t get ’em”. It’s like I don’t know if I should even be trusting in you. And that’s how we feel all the time. Is God really who he says he was? I know my moms told me all this stuff about God, is He really that? It’s just kind of expressing that feeling of I don’t know if you hear me or even care about me. The reason I wanted to do songs like that is that those are real feelings that we have all the time. The reason I want people to hear that song is because I think people assume, ‘oh he’s a serious Christian rapper so in all his music he’s going to be acting like he’s perfect and he’s never going to admit to any wrongdoing so I’m not going to be able to relate to any of his music. I want people to give it a chance and realize it’s not what you assume it is… and I love that song because it feels good and it’s kind of OutKast inspired with some of the melodies and the feel of the record.
Watch Too Cold here:
What’s next for you?
Well, I want to work on another album in the next year or so. I already got ideas, I think I already know a concept that would work. I want to put out another book. My next book is going to be about identity, kind of like identity issues, wrestling with identity and who we are. The BRAG, that website, I’m going to be wanting to get more of that content out all the time. So for me it’s going to be more of the same, trying to make excellent music and do excellent content that people really enjoy that speaks to them where they are.
Adopted from Parle Mag.