Trippie Redd Is on the Way to Becoming Soundcloud Rap's Frank Sinatra
On songs like “Love Scars” and “Romeo and Juliet,” the Canton, Ohio, native is charting a bold melodic path.
Photo by Justin Staple
Soundcloud rap needs its signature crooner. The internet-driven scene tends to embrace harsh and abrasive sounds, but as it grows in prominence, the subculture is broadening its palette as well. Trippie Redd is only a year removed from posting his first notable work online, but the 18 year old from Canton, Ohio, has quickly carved out a critical spot in the pantheon of rap's new underground. While most of his contemporaries produce gritty, bass-driven bangers, Trippie toys with melody and adds a softer element that sets him apart from the pack.
On songs like "Love Scars" and "Romeo and Juliet," Trippie is quickly positioning himself as the Frank Sinatra of the culture. At turns woozy, romantic, and plaintive, these breakout singles connect the dots between cutting edge rap's interest in blown-out, ambient production and its fixation on emo and alternative rock. The hook of "Romeo and Juliet," which goes "your love is my medicine," is straight-up pretty and instantly memorable, suggesting Trippie is poised to cross over to the mainstream at any moment.
That's not to say that Trippie's tracks lack gusto: He connected with XXXTentacion for a remix of the track "Uh Oh, Thots!," which has taken the internet by storm, and most of his songs explode with energy thanks to production from the likes of Pi'erre Bourne, 12hunna, Dpbeats, and Goose the Guru. Trippie's May album A Love Letter to You is a sleeper standout at rap's melodic forefront. He and Goose the Guru recently stopped by the VICE LA offices for an episode of Noisey Radio on Beats 1. Below is an edited transcript of that conversation.
Noisey: There's a lot of artists from Cleveland, but Canton is less well known. Are there artists coming out of there right now?
Trippie Redd: Nah, the only known artist really out of Canton is Marilyn Manson. Besides me.
Did you listen to Manson growing up?
Yeah, I fuck with him. My mom actually went to church with this nigga. I've never personally seen him.
When did you first start wanting to make music?
I first started being involved in music around eight or nine? I used to listen to Lil Wayne, and my mom listened to a lot of different vibey shit. Like, Alicia Keys, and fuckin' Ja Rule, Tupac, Nas. A lot of shit.
What was the first song you recorded?
Around 14 I recorded my first song. It was called "Manu Ginobli." ( Laughs) It was like, "black diamonds and my gold Rollie, ball hard like Manu Ginobli, I ain't got time for no fake or phony, man, why y'all niggas so two faced, killin' niggas, it's too crazy." I was just freestyling.
What grade were you going into?
I don't even fucking know. I'm high. ( Laughs)
And then what? You put it online?
Yeah, I put it on Soundcloud. I was always popular in high school, so the shit got to about ten, 20K. Just like my first song I ever put out.
What would you say was your first breakthrough song?
It's funny 'cause it was a drill song. It's called "Angry Vibes." It was the first song that, for my city, it got to 100K. So everybody listened to it. Everyone would see me in the mall and be like, "Trippie Redd! That's Trippie Redd!" 'Cause I made a song that make people break their floors at parties and shit! People was tight.
What was it like when you started performing that?
I didn't even perform that song.
Nope. It would be played at popular parties. So I would always hear it come on, and everybody be turnt and everybody be looking at me and shit. (Laughs)
After "Angry Vibes," were you like OK, I'm going to take this seriously, I'm going to make this my life?
I was always like that. My brother was into making music, and he inspired me before he passed away, so I always was going to figure out something with music. No matter what it was, I was going to do it. Even if I didn't get this far, I was going to do something. I was going to be recording niggas or something. I just like music.
Did you feel like you wanted to make your way out of Ohio at that time?
That's always been the goal.
So what came after that?
I had some alternative rock shit, but I deleted that shit. It was, like, some guitar shit. And it had drums coming in. 'Cause I can really do that shit. (Laughs) My voice—I can sing for real. So I be doin' shit like that.
Did you learn to sing in church?
Nah, I learned from just listening to people that knew how to sing. So I would just try and sing their songs, and it came out right. I was on Drake, The Weeknd, Partynextdoor when I was growing up. I was listening to whatever my mom played in the car, so I hit high notes. I made my grandma cry one day, I hit a note. (Laughs) I swear to God, on everything I love! On my dad and brother, she started crying! I hit a note in the car. (Laughs) That's just so funny.
"I was listening to whatever my mom played in the car, so I hit high notes. I made my grandma cry one day, I hit a note."
When was "Love Scars" put together? How did that come about?
"Love Scars" was put together in Columbus, Ohio. That's back before I even came here. There isn't really too much to say about "Love Scars," really. It was just the right day at the right time. And he started sampling this Super Metro song or whatever. And it ended up being two songs. It was "Long Way Home From Mars / Love Scars," and then I ended up cutting that off and making that its own song and making "Love Scars" its own song. But really I one-took the whole thing, like both songs. "Love Scars" is really like a one take in a dark room. It's just mixed emotions. How love scars. It's a lot of shit.
Were you going through some shit with a girl?
Nah. I just like the vibe. I like to catch people's vibes. Like, that's what it's for. I'm trying to help people through situations and shit.
So were you surprised when it started to take off, or did you kind of know this was going to be the one for you?
I kinda knew it was. Like, just hearing that shit I was like, "bro, what the fuck did I make." Like, I made some hard-ass shit. That shit was so hard to me. In one take though! Everybody was turnt in the studio. Like, what the fuck? This nigga's a crackhead. ( Laughs) How he make this shit?
What are some of the reactions from fans you've gotten from it? Will they hit you up and be like, "this helped me," or anything?
Yeah! Hell yeah. There's hella DMs. Unlimited DMs. I meet people that are like, "I'm shaking, that's my favorite song." ( Laughs)
Goose The Guru: We've seen a lot. "Romeo and Juliet," we see girls masturbating to the song. They did that.
Trippie Redd: Viral. They did that.
Goose The Guru: Those comments, I've never seen them before! To see comments like that, it's just wild.
What's some other crazy shit fans have done? Can you walk around right now?
I mean, barely. People still be seeing me. When they see me, they see me, and, boy, they be on some other shit. ( Laughs). They want a photo right away, want a hug. They be shaking and shit, doing weird shit. I mean it's all cool, though. I love my fans. If they're weird, fuck it, they're weird. I'm weird too. We weird together. I'ma shake too! ( Laughs)
Do you want to introduce Goose real quick, so we can talk more about the project?
Goose is a ho. ( Laughs)
Goose The Guru: Thank you. I appreciate it.
When you're working with Trippie in the studio what are the vibes like?
Very very fun and easy. Actually when he did "Romeo and Juliet," I wasn't there. At all. I just came back and I was just like, OK, yeah, this is it. That was that.
I think where me and Trippie relate is that we both love music. Everything: Al Green, Limp Bizkit, Erykah Badu, Pink Floyd. It could go forever. I think that's where we meet. I love just good music. Even if it's not mine. Trippie's one artist where I can truly say he has good music, even if it's not on my beats.
What's the story of making "Bust Down"?
Top secret. I was at my brother's house, minding my own business, making my own beats, having a good ol' time. Guess who comes through the door? Trippie fucking Redd. He storms in, and he does what he does: "Goose, make me a beat. Make me a beat, bitch!" I'm like, "man, I don't want to right now. Let me work. Let me—" No! I made the beat. Five minutes later, he's like fucking kid at Disneyland. And that's how we made it.
Is that it went down? "Make a beat, bitch"?
Trippie Redd: Yeah. I always talk to him like that. Like Goose, you my bitch!
Goose The Guru: Yeah, he's so rude to me! He treats me like shit! I'm chopped liver!
Listen to Trippie Redd on Noisey Radio on Beats 1.
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