Disclaimer: All views presented in this Album Review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O
After convincing many that he had called it quits on the mic, Trip Lee is back with his fifth album, Rise. When Trip first mentioned that he was stepping away from music to be trained more in pastoral ministry, many thought he was saying that he was done. It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t the case. His last album, The Good Life, dropped in April of 2012. Since then, he has released a book, did a book tour, joined in on the Unashamed V tour, and featured on projects with label mates Andy Mineo, Tedashii and Lecrae. Music was obviously a passion that he could not completely run from.
Earlier this year, Trip stated that he’d like to make more music and gave hints that music was on the way. The internet exploded with anticipation. Will he have a new sound? How will his ministry training affect his music? Will he go the route Lecrae and Andy have been heading? With questions rising, Trip has stated in interviews that he hopes that this album calls people to rise up and start living.
In this album review, we will look at just how Trip Lee calls people to Rise up and start living.
This project was special because Trip Lee teamed up with Gawvi to produce the entire record. It’s so rare in this digital age that we live in, to hear that an artist sat with one producer and made an entire album together. Usually when that happens, the chemistry between the lyrics and music is phenomenal.
Surprisingly, the chemistry between the two was a bit hit or miss on this album. Some of the tracks sounded great and others sounded like they may have been missing something. For example, songs like “Lights On,” “Manolo,” “Beautiful Life 2,” “All My Love,” and “Sweet Victory” had a special connection. The music met the story that the lyrics were telling in a way that didn’t distract the listener. It was as if the two (music and lyrics) had an agreement to not outshine one another and to make sure that all aspects of the song completed one another.
However, on songs like “Shweet,” “All Rise Up,” “Insonmiac 2,” “Lazarus,” and “I’m Gone” it felt like there was something that was missing. A great example of this was on “Insonmiac” feat. Andy Mineo. The beat was ridiculous (in a good way), but it did not feel that the chorus and Trip’s verses met the high energy of the track. When listening to this track in the car, the chorus seems like the perfect time to turn up as the beat drops, but the singer on the hook does not bring the same intensity. Also, on “I’m Gone” Trip Lee tried out the rap/sing type of thing and it just didn’t feel right. The song was about running from the lies of the enemy and the words used were slightly aggressive. What didn’t match was how the song had an upbeat feel with a choir-like chant throughout it. The song’s content was great, but the beat just did not connect well with what he was saying.
The production was amazing all throughout the project and many people may not notice the differences stated above. There weren’t any moments where the track sounded off balance altogether, but there were definitely moments where it sounded like they could have done a little more.
Trip Lee has never been first in the conversation when it comes to crazy word play and lyricism. He has, however, consistently communicated that he wants to grow and get better with his craft. With that, fans may not expect him to come out of his two year hiatus with complex bars and allegories, but they are looking to see if they can hear growth in his lyrics.
Rise has plenty of elements that showcase his growth as an artist. On “All Rise Up” you can hear the confidence and security he has doing what he does for Jesus and not for people. The chorus is simply that he wishes we would all rise up. He even addresses the critics that say Reach Records artists simply just rap for money. He does a great job making it clear why he does what he does and even spits without the beat at the end of it. Another song that showcased something new was in “Sweet Victory.” On “Sweet Victory” Trip Lee opens up about his physical illness and how he wrestles with the issues in his life. He did a great job delivering heartfelt lyrics while riding the beat with ease.
Although Trip has never claimed or aimed to be the best lyricist out, there are some moments that hip hop fans may expect more from him. Throughout this project, there were moments where it seemed as if Trip could have chosen more complex rhymes. For example, on “Insonmiac” Trip raps, “Goin’ in today, this my only shot/ my life could end today, yeah my heart could stop/if I go out tonight, I’m goin’ out on top/I give it all, this life ain’t all I got.” The beat goes really hard but it seems like he chose simple rhyming words to complete the bars (shot, stop, top, got). Also, on “I’m Gone,” in the second verse he starts off with a weird delivery that wasn’t fully on beat and the lyrics weren’t that deep. The song seemed to be pretty serious and fans might end up wanting more lyrically.
Trip has some great moments lyrically and some not so great moments, but one thing is for sure, he knows how to communicate his message.
Trip Lee clearly has a heart to minister beyond his music. He released a book that went with his album The Good Life and is also releasing a book that compliments this album. On this project, there were some great moments where Trip ministers to the listener. Three songs that really stood out were “Lights On,” “All My Love,” and “Sweet Victory.”
“Lights On” does a wonderful job painting the picture of total depravity. He talks about how we are all walking in total darkness until the lights come on from Jesus. He’s constantly using the picture of being in the dark and not knowing where we are going. Many can relate to that feeling and this song may touch those who truly do not know what they are doing and feel lost about where to look for help.
“All My Love” is an amazing story of a Christian married man that can’t stop lusting after another woman via the internet. He has friends in his life that try to get him to repent and confess to his wife, and he eventually has to make a decision. He has to choose to repent and fight for his family or give in to his addiction. The song ends with him choosing to fight for his wife. The song does a great job depicting the feelings of those who are trapped in addiction but still have the Holy Spirit to help them prevail.
“Sweet Victory” is a wonderful track that encourages the believer that our victory is not how well our life is currently going, but it is based on Christ’s work on the cross. Many people wrestle with their own failures and their own “success” and forget that our victory is not based on our doing, but it’s based on what Jesus did. The song ends with Leah Smith taking the song up a notch to worship, as she sings, “They nailed your hands, you nailed our debt.” This was a great song to end the album on and encourage the believers to walk in victory.
Trip Lee is an amazing artists who brings a lot to the table. This album will encourage and motivate many of the people that listen to it. There were some great moments and not so great moments, but the message of this album speaks louder than the music and rhyme schemes. Trip is releasing a book with this project and it can’t be easy to do a project and a book at the same time. At the end of “All Rise Up” Trip Lee says, “[I] see His glory in His word and I gotta shout it, so I’m just trying to figure out how I can shout the loudest.” This sums up what to expect from Trip Lee. A person that is passionate about using his gifts in music while trying to be used in whatever other capacity that he can to show off the glory of Jesus.
Trip Lee’s 5th studio album ‘Rise’ is now available on iTunes.