Life’s a Trip, SoundCloud rapper Trippie Redd’s debut album, communicates much through its cover art, which distorts Trippie’s likeness into a revolting disembodied figure surrounded by various freaky/goofy cartoon characters. Because the imagery isn’t all that novel, Trippie could come off as another colorful creation of the mumble rap era, but as he asserts on the track “Bird Shit”: “All that bullshit for the birds.” Like Young Thug, a clear influence on Trippie who’s also featured on Life’s a Trip, words mean less for their potential to provoke representational ideas and more as a means of conjuring emotionally-charged imagery. First, the image of “shit”; second, comparing haters to said shit (“shitty n*ggas is some turds”); and, most importantly, a nonsense title like “Bird Shit” gives Trippie an excuse to squawk like a bird as loudly as possible in the ad-lib.
The rapper revels in the smear of sonic ugliness he creates, with his inexhaustible, constantly morphing vocalizations. “BANG!,” perhaps the zenith of Life’s a Trip, starts unassuming enough with XXXTentacion-reminiscent guitar arpeggios and plodding, yet delicate, sing-song delivery. The lyrics are trite emo aphorisms (“I spread my wings / I let them soar”), but just as Trippie’s voice begins to waver, he shouts out, “I can’t do this anymore!” The tinny high-hat of the 808 stands in for the typical trap drop, and nothing can prepare listeners for the moment when Trippie rips through a rockstar wail of “BAAAAAAANG / BAAAAAANG!” And halt the clickbait presses — Trippie is kind of a rockstar. Take his shriek on “Wish” (“Might just BLOW MY BRAIN”) or his moan on “Dark Knight Dummo” (“Take a moment, count my guaaaaap”). On “Together,” “How You Feel,” and “Underwater FlyZone,” even the instrumentals have a rock sound. In fact, despite some aesthetic similarities to XXX and Lil Peep, Trippie doesn’t really sound like a rapper on Life’s a Trip — except on “Miss My Idols,” a recycling of his XXL Freshman freestyle which perhaps should’ve been made a bonus track. That misstep aside, Trippie’s confident debut is one of the best by a SoundCloud-cultivated artist to date.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 2