Contrary to what critics will tell you, the SoundCloud wave is not a monolith. Although many of the artists who have earned prominence on the platform are unafraid to borrow from their predecessors, there is a greater degree of heterogeneity than one may expect. The subject of the previous beginner’s guide, Ski Mask the Slump God, has separated himself from the pack with a cartoonish personality and fast flows. Your opinion of his music does not change the fact that the dude marches to the beat of his own 808 snare.
Canton, OH, singer and rapper Trippie Redd has also managed to carve himself a niche out of the SoundCloud genre. The 18-year-old artist began recording at a young age and found his opportunity for fame when Chicago rapper Lil Wop set him up in an Atlanta studio. Through a series of collaborative projects and extended plays, Trippie hybridized the elements of hip-hop and emo rock and cultivated a sound few contemporaries have explored (Lil Uzi Vert and the late Lil Peep notwithstanding).
Trippie broke through last spring with his debut mixtape, A Love Letter to You. Tracks such as “Love Scars,” “Romeo & Juliet,” and “Poles 1469” featuring Tekashi 6ix9ine quickly racked up millions of streams and Trippie officially blew up. Anxious to keep the hype alive, Trippie released a second mixtape, A Love Letter to You 2, in October. Although it may not have achieved as many spins as its predecessor (diminishing returns are inevitable), the project was a success nonetheless. Since then, Trippie has limited his activity to some features and a couple singles, including collaborations with Houston artists Maxo Kream and Travis Scott.
Without further ado, here are the seven tracks you need to catch up on Trippie Redd.
The quintessential Trippie joint, this is the first track on A Love Letter to You and easily his biggest hit to date. Recorded off the top of his head in a dark, empty room (not a joke), the song features a blend of Trippie’s signature strained vocals and ad-libbed rapping style. Producer Elliot Trent enhances the darkness of the track with a layer of rapid hi-hats over punishing snares and grimey bass. “You used to say you in love/I used to say that shit back/Taking that shit from the heart/Now look where the fuck where we at.”
“It Takes Time”
Over a low-key, stripped-down instrumental that allows his vocals to take center stage, Trippie scales back his singing and adopts a more relaxed tone that borders on a lullaby. Although both the pre-chorus and hook are repetitive and a bit drawn out, the melody sticks immediately, and Trippie knows how to keep a listener locked in. Lyrically, Trippie demonstrates a degree of maturity one does not expect from a teenager, especially one whose name gets thrown around in conversation with Lil Pump. “You know I took her soul/But I won’t be hittin’ phones.”
“Can You Rap Like Me?”
If this were the only Trippie song you had heard, you wouldn’t know he came up on SoundCloud. Producer P. Soul brings a wicked throwback beat and Trippie flows over it with a cadence from another era of hip-hop. Showcasing his cleverness with great wordplay and some killer internal rhyme schemes, this is one of Trippie’s more lyrically compelling efforts. “Lyrically, demonically dominate your flow endlessly/My venomous rhymes wine and dine on you mentally.”
Trippie seldom gets braggadocious with his music, and that is what makes this track such a dope introduction to A Love Letter to You 2. Over a chugging Goose the Guru beat punctuated with balladic piano chords, Trippie dares his haters to compare their net worths with his. He keeps his flow jaunty and his vibe upbeat, making it difficult for the listener to remain still. “Stay saucin’ on you, that’s a habit.”
“In Too Deep”
With all the melody and patience of a ballad combined with the grime of SoundCloud rap, this is a perfect example of Trippie’s capacity to bend and blend genres. The instrumental, courtesy of Paris the Producer and Goose the Guru, rests on gorgeous, expansive synth leads and a polished trap beat. With chilling, heavy vocals, Trippie reflects sorrowfully on the life he has lead to this point and accepts that he must continue moving forward in accordance with God’s will. “I see the future and my plans/I’m gon’ be good, it’s in God’s hands.”
“Deadman’s Wonderland” feat. FOREVER ANTI PoP
This time around, Goose keeps it lowkey on the track: somber keys, subtle bass, and light percussion. Although the hook, which dominates the song, flows like a freestyle, the lyrics demonstrate the depth of Trippie’s character. Incorporating the iconography of death into his bars, Trippie grapples with the pressure to remain relevant and to keep the money coming in for the sake of his loved ones. FOREVER ANTI PoP meshes well with the song’s sole verse, if only because he sounds like a less versatile version of Trippie. “Oh, just tell the Reaper take my soul away.”
“Dark Knight Dummo” feat. Travis Scott
Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E. comes through with a densely layered, intensely cinematic instrumental featuring filthy bass and dramatic keys. When I close my eyes and listen to this song, all I can see is rain pouring down on a hilltop gothic mansion designed for either Charles Foster Kane or Dracula. Trippie’s vocals are electrifying and sinister; it sounds as if he lost a piece of his mind while recording. Travis Scott’s autotune perfectly matches the cold, ominous tone of the instrumental. He puts his dynamism on fully display, switching up his flow more than once during the verse. “My diamonds dancing, hopscotch/They holding hands.”
Despite the impressiveness of his come-up, Trippie has plenty of room to grow. If he was able to write tracks like these fresh out of high school, who knows what he’s gonna release in the coming years? Indeed, the unpredictability of his style is what makes him so compelling. You can rest assured that his next move is always right around the corner, so get on board now.