Trip at Knight is the best album Trippie’s put out in a minute, a record of creative production and genuine feeling that only occasionally stumbles.
Ohio rapper Trippie Redd has enjoyed a relatively decent career as a B-tier artist with A-tier abilities; in this current wave of faceless melodic trap rappers, he’s carved himself a comfortable lane with his gnarled, ugly wail of a voice that’s equally as cogent when he’s singing or rapping. His entire visual and sonic aesthetic is centered around this sense of morbidity — just look at any of the hideous covers for any of his past projects — even if the quality of his music has never consistently matched the amount of effort he’s put into the general vibe of his persona. Trip at Knight, the sequel to his debut Life’s a Trip, is the closest he’s come to producing this equivalent exchange; sure, there’s a lack of quality control over and an hyper-reliance on guest features, but this is easily the most clear-sighted project Trippie’s released in over three years.
The two lead-up singles, admittedly, inspired little confidence: “Miss the Rage” sounds like a Fisher Price version of any track off Whole Lotta Red (Playboi Carti’s appearance further confirms this), and “Holy Smokes” is a structural mess, one with a weak vocal performance on the choppy hook and a less-than-game Lil Uzi Vert filling time on the back end. Thankfully, those are the biggest blunders: the first four songs — including “Betrayed,” added after the fact, with Drake not-so-subliminally dissing Kanye West — are all commanding in their own right, setting the pace with energetic vocal deliveries and an embrace a hyper-pop sonic palette that’s downright infectious, if a tad one-dimensional. “Super Cell” is constructed around a basic premise: how many Dragon Ball Z references can one man cram into a less than three-minute song? Apparently, a lot, as Trippie is “invincible” like the Legendary Super Saiyan Broly, is eating well like that “fat n***a” Majin Buu, is going to “hit the fusion dance” like Trunks and Goten, and even finds time to rhyme “Piccolo” with “pick a loaf.” “Supernatural” opens with a traditional Trippie flow and delivery over glitchy production, all before a sudden beat switch-up that activates his attack mode (“Pussy boy got pushed out the whip / I watched ’em roll and tumble”) going from zero to 100 real quick, to say the least. The rest of the solo cuts are disposable filler, nothing too outright terrible — except maybe the super emo “Finish Line” — but nothing that’s serious album material either.
But what about the aforementioned guests? They’re all uniformly solid, playing off of Trippie in fun and inventive ways, like the Detroit posse cut and album closer “Captain Crunch,” which sees the city’s past (Icewear Vezzo), present (Sada Baby), and future (Babyface Ray) all together acting in harmonious camaraderie. Likewise, the moody and aggressive “Rich MF” has a Chicago-based tinge with an agitated Polo G and unflappable Lil Durk in the mix, as Trippie contemplates all the ways he’s a “motherfucker” on the chorus, whether he be a “rich” one or a “sexy” seducer of mamas. Ski Mask the Slump God reliably spazzes on his spot, dropping yet another DBZ reference on a project stuffed with them. And in an era where posthumous features are given out left and right, it feels refreshing to hear two unused verses from two departed talents — Juice Wrld and XXXTentacion, respectively — which were recorded for these specific tracks in mind. “Matt Hardy 999” has Juice and Trippie trading freestyled verses back and forth, with each new line somehow being more ridiculous than the last, and “Danny Phantom” — a retooling of previously released “Ghost Busters” — features one of X’s sunniest artistic contributions to date, ending with Trippie calling out to his fallen comrade with a pained cry. Regardless of how one feels about the late-Florida rapper, it’s an undeniably touching gesture from one friend to another; a moment where Trippie’s pain, for once, feels palpable.
Published as part one Album Roundup — August 2021 | Part 2.