In the lead up to JMBLYA this weekend, I’ve been listening to the artists on the lineup who I’m not as familiar with. Today is Trippie Redd’s day. I haven’t been avoiding him; I simply haven’t cracked into him as much as I could. I really like his song with Diplo, “Wish,” and I honestly didn’t even know if that was his sound or not! Today I listened to his two mixtapes: A Love Letter To You and A Love Letter To You 2.
Like I said, I didn’t know what to expect from Trippie. His verses on Wish are sing-song raps, maybe even forlorn sounding, but that could just be me. Both of the mixtapes are part of the new sound of hip-hop, aggressive, bouncy beats with melodic verses. Auto tune is a big part of Trippie’s sound, and that’s not a knock. Old heads will remember when T-pain first brought auto tune to the masses. He caught a lot of shit for that.
The fact is once the auto tune was added, it put voices on equal measure. True, singer voices will always stand out, but the auto tune user doesn’t get a free pass: they need to use it right, or the people just won’t feel it. I think Trippie Redd uses it right.
Specifically, A Love Letter To You isn’t all auto tune. The standout rap track is “Can You Rap Like Me,” and, boy, does Trippie go in! He even does it on an NYC boom bap beat. As hip hop knows, you only attack boom bap beats if you can rap. It’s not the longest flow in the world, but it’s a solid two-minute showcase of lyrical dexterity.
I ask you: if Trippie Redd can, in fact, rap his ass off, why is he sing-songing the rest of the mixtape? I reply: Because he can! I think the fact that the can rap informs his usage of auto tune. Since he knows what a right flow is, he can play with it, stretch it, modify the pitches. And now it goes back to my earlier point of auto tune not being a free pass, but another tool to use for hot songs. The new gen isn’t lacking bars, they just want to have fun with it.
Did I mention that Trippie Redd is only 18? Keep your eye on Trippie, if you aren’t already. He’s not someone to gloss over. His combination of hip hop fundamentals and youthful POV result in creative, engaging hip hop.