“We have to step up and meet people where they are. That’s how you create change.”
It’s true that life can often feel like a balancing act, a constant juggling of family responsibility, personal and professional ambition, and the need for rest. For the artist, particularly one who is fueled by an unwavering passion for creative expression, this can be especially trying. Some have better management of it than others. Talk to Trip Lee for more than a few moments and you’ll get the sense that he’s carrying the weight of the world. But the husband, father, rapper, author, and pastor is uniquely capable, a vessel firmly planted and resolute. While the challenges that come with a busy lifestyle can sometimes abound—Trip recently relocated from Dallas to Atlanta to help plant a church—the grace with which he navigates his many roles is nothing if not inspiring. It’s never been about busyness for its own sake, but a commitment to a cause greater than all—the cause of spreading Hope.
Two years removed from his 5th album Rise, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Rap chart and #16 on the Billboard 200, Trip sounds more focused than ever. “It’s time,” he says.
His new mixtape The Waiting Room is an exercise in power and precision. Though its title speaks to things like patience and contentment—all which are good and true and examined here with a biblical lens—the urgency is also deeply felt. “This earth is a place where all of our longings just won’t come true,” Trip says. “We’re always waiting for things to be made right.”
Throughout the 10 songs that make up The Waiting Room, Trip wrestles with joy and pain, life and death, and the realities of our current social and political climate. Since Rise, violence, injustice, and heightened levels of civil unrest have captivated our national consciousness. The example of the church, Trip argues, is needed now more than ever before. “We have to step up and meet people where they are. That’s how you create change.”
The state of our nation, and world, has caused many to look inward, including Trip—to take careful stock of our hearts and commit to destroying the things that hold us back. Naturally, as with all crucial times in human history, great art has a way of emerging from the rubble.
The first single on The Waiting Room, “Too Cold” produced by GAWVI, is a melodic and bass-heavy anthem about the importance of boldness and standing firm in one’s faith. “One time for my soldiers/Two times for y’all that got that cross on y’all shoulders/We ain’t gon’ let the world mold us.”
“Clouds,” a banger co-produced by GAWVI and Dirty Rice, is easily one of Trip’s strongest and, suffice to say, catchiest releases to date. His voice and southern drawl coast over the piano and cracking drums like a rider on a swell. “That feeling when you’re walking in your calling/Ain’t no turning back, I’m all in/I ain’t finished just watch.” Songs like this serve to re-establish Trip as a singular force in hip-hop, a rapper who is as willing to share his doubts and uncertainties as he is his assurances. One of Trip’s biggest obstacles over the last several years has been his health, specifically his battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, which he doesn’t shy away from discussing. On “Longer” he digs deep, detailing the exhaustion and physical strain that his condition continues to pose on his life and work. Despite it all, Trip takes solace in knowing that his suffering is only temporary.
Then there are gems like the infectious Alex Medina-produced “Money Up” and the second single “Billion Years,” a worshipful cut that thunders with hope and features a massive hook by Taylor Hill. “A billion years ahead, this whole world will be nothing/There’s a joy that is coming, like the morning.”
The Waiting Room is Trip at his most self-actualized. It probes and prods; it’s fun; there is measured tension. It’s an artist operating at the height of his gift. Start to finish, the project has a soulful air—moody synths and chords and interesting key changes—that match Trip’s intensity and crisp delivery. His skill as an MC shines bright as ever, and once again proves his standing as one of the best doing it today. “It’s been awhile since I put some new music out,” Trip says. “This one is special and will hold people over until the next album. Rawness, real emotion, and a fresh perspective. Here’s The Waiting Room.”
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