Part of a generation of artists who utilised digital platforms to evade traditional gatekeepers, Trippie Redd is perhaps the most effective of the SoundCloud rap movement to build and maintain a personal brand. ‘Trip At Knight’ is his fourth album in a little over three years, an imposing work-rate when you consider the appalling attrition rate that has befallen his friends and peers.
Indeed, it’s these factors which mark his new record: the fluorescent toned digital production taps into his web-focussed roots, while the emphatic beats reflect his arena-ready position; there’s also a hint of loss, however, notably on two features from (albeit controversial) friends who have passed.
The highs spring out from first listen. ‘Molly Hearts’ swaggers into view and effectively lays out the sonic palette for the album as a whole – barbed digi tones that verge on 8-bit, and raps that move from all-out braggadocio to surreal, jokey word play. ‘Finish Line’ is an early high, while ‘Demon Time’ – featuring Ski Mask the Slump God – injects some darkness into his day-glo aesthetic.
At times spread too thin across its 17 strong tracklisting – ‘Space Time’ feels like little more than a sketch, for example – this album does add different facets to his personality. Notably, the appearances of Juice WRLD – on ‘Matt Hardy 999’ – and XXXTentacion – on ‘Danny Phantom’ – serve as a reminder of the cost success has had on an entire generation of American rap artists. Juice WRLD’s bars are effective, for sure; X remains a difficult artist to listen to in light of the abusive events which immediately preceded his passing.
What emerges, though, is a defiant and indefatigable figure. ‘Trip At Knight’ serves to finesse his sound and approach, allowing room for Trippie Redd to attempt new projects within his digi-focussed framework – it’s a chapter so many of his contemporaries have been cruelly denied.
Words: Robin Murray
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