Christian rapper Trip Lee on creating hip hop with a higher calling.
Trip Lee has all the swagger and lyrics of a mainstream rapper but there's something different about this Texas native. Instead of bragging about his money and the women he's dating, he's rapping about his dedication to Jesus Christ. Lee, 23, recently released his fourth album titled The Good Life, which, he says, challenges everything mainstream hip hop idealizes as "the good life."
"I want to try to redefine that good life and encourage people to live the way we were created to live," he says.
Lee spoke with us about The Good Life, his vision for the future of Christian hip hop and shared a song dedicated to his wife from the album.
ESSENCE.com: Your latest album is called The Good Life. What does "the good life" mean to you?
TRIP LEE: I know that everyone has their own ideas about what the good life is, and hip hop has especially strong ideas about it. It's been the same old thing for years and years: a bunch of females around you, nice cars and money. I wanted people to know what the good life actually is and challenge a lot of the lies that we’re told. One song on the album is called “Robot,” and I say ‘I don’t have to be a robot.’ What I’m essentially saying is I don’t have to be controlled by the lies that I’m told about what the good life is, I want to try to redefine that good life and encourage people to live the way we were created to live.
ESSENCE.com: Where do you see Christian hip hop going?
TRIP: We’re getting more and more opportunities and our platform is growing. The industry is starting to be more open to what we do. I just don’t want us to be boxed in whatever people assume Christian rap should be. We’re dudes who love hip hop and we love Jesus and that’s going to be apparent in our music. But I don’t think that that means we shouldn’t be given the same opportunities as others. So, I guess what I can hope will happen is that the doors continue to open and people give the music a chance.
ESSENCE.com: Speaking of mainstream, did a song like Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” have any effect on how people take your message?
TRIP: I think one of the effects it had was it showed radio that even dudes like me who wanted to talk about Jesus in our rhymes could be dope. Another thing it did, at least for a guy like me, was encourage me to say if I talk about Jesus, there’s a chance that it might actually get some attention. But the way Kanye rapped about Jesus wasn’t really helpful. He presented Jesus as a tag along. Even if I have packs to move, Jesus is still rolling with me. And that’s what I thought was somewhat problematic.
ESSENCE.com: You’re also studying for a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. What was the reasoning for that?
TRIP: One of my passions is helping people understand the Word. I think the most important thing we should be thinking about is who created us and how we were created to live. So I thought that I want to spend a lot of my time actually studying God’s Word. I put a lot of my studies into my music and my writing. I want to be able to address real life issues in a way that not only takes God into account, but takes his perspective as we see in His Word. I have a strong desire to be pastor that I do think it’s in my future, but I’m not sure how soon. I do this this as a season of preparation for that.
ESSENCE.com: So how does young man of 23 have such a solid moral code?
TRIP: I think God’s Word has really done something to my heart. To a lot of folks that may sound cliché or corny, but I think that I’ve been very young, for the past 10 years of my life, the main thing that driven the way I think about the world of God has been the Word. That’s what I’ve been rooted in. Then, on top of that, just walking alongside of people who are striving for the same thing in life.
Listen to a song Trip wrote for his wife of three years:
- "Good Thing" (feat. Leah Smith)" by Trip Lee