Trippie Redd has quickly proven himself to be one of the most versatile and emotionally raw performers of his generation. As both a singer and a rapper, he’s shown no fear or limits as to what he won’t try. A wild child swirling in the smoke of constantly rotating blunts, he opens his wounds and bleeds all over his tracks. In just a few short years, this 18-year-old has already had his songs streamed over a hundred million times on SoundCloud on Spotify and gained 1.4 million followers for his unrepentant and hilarious Instagram account, tapping the main arteries of an era increasingly reliant on the digital delivery of everything.

Trippie was raised on 14th St. at his grandmother’s house in Canton, Ohio, but as he raps on his track “Hellboy,” it’s “the whole country where I blew up big.” His first recording sessions started modestly in his cousin’s basement over by the Stark County Fairgrounds, though he soon relocated to the more professional studios of Atlanta. Now he calls Los Angeles his home (“People had opportunities for me out here,” he says of his latest move). Everything he’s uploaded so far has gone viral, finding bigger and bigger audiences beyond the boundaries of whatever city he’s sleeping in. This rapid growth culminated in his pair of 2017 mixtapes, A Love Letter To You and A Love Letter To You 2, as well as signing a deal with Strainge Entertainment—a new label from Elliot Grainge that is distributed by Capitol Records.

His music is urgent and often tattered, but always honest. On his breakout cut “Love Scars” (whose title is tattooed under his left eye), Trippie rages between regret and fury, showcasing his melodic talent as he sings, “You used to say that you in love/ I used to say that shit back/ Taking that shit from the heart/ Now look where the fuck where we at.” On recent single “Bust Down” he flexes hard, celebrating what his newfound success has afforded him as taunts, “What’s your net worth?” For “In Too Deep” he rides a melancholy wave, paranoid and defiant in the face of those who might test him.

“I’m not just making music just to make it. It’s not funny to me, it’s not a game,” Trippie explains. “I make music to feel other people’s emotions and vibes. I want to tap into other people’s world. That shit’s fire to me.”

Trippie grew up listening to whatever his mom or brother were playing around the house—usually the songs of stars and icons like 2Pac, Lil Wayne, Nas, Drake and JAY-Z. But then he started to form his own perspective through the YouTube search bar. With a growing interest in rock music, he first was drawn to spectacle specialists like KISS and Marilyn Manson, as well as the unarguable emotional pull of Nirvana. “If you type in the no-brainer shit, you get that first, then you watch what plays next,” Trippie says of his research sessions. Through those algorithms he ended up in the darker corners of alternative and hard rock occupied by artists like System of a Down, Slipknot and Rob Zombie.

Though his family didn’t previously have a tradition of making music, his brother, who went by the name Dirty Redd, and his cousins started to make their own rap songs when Trippie was just coming of age. Tragically, Dirty died in a car accident when Trippie was 10. Inspired by what he had seen his brother do, he decided to pick up the microphone. “I took his dream and did it myself,” Trippie says now.

As Trippie prepares his debut album, due in 2018, he’s also been torching stages at festivals like Rolling Loud and Day N Night. He’s continued to get his name out with guest appearances on songs by XXXTentacion (“Fuck Love,” an unofficial single that cracked the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart) and D.R.A.M. (“Ill Nana” from the gold-certified Big Baby D.R.A.M.). Trippie is still working with upcoming producers like Goose the Guru (his trusted collaborator on favorites including “Romeo & Juliet” and “It Takes Time”) and with other artists of his generation like Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee and Famous Dex. He’s also been in the studio with legends like Scott Storch and Diplo, and had sessions with Lil Wayne.

“I like timeless music. I like making timeless music,” Trippie says of what he’s currently recording. And as to how you do that, he explains, “You’ve got to think of a timeless concept—love, hate, anger, sadness—all that shit is timeless. And if you can make something without it just meaning one thing, people can feel it and turn it into their own. That’s what makes it timeless.”

Coi Leray

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