Trippie Redd is in love. When the Cleveland native visited the Billboard offices back in early June, it was almost as if his press tour was a burden taking time away from catering to his fresh relationship with fellow rapper Coi Leray. Walking into the interview room, Leray's legs laid across Redd's lap, as they whispered with the scenic Times Square at their back, making for a calming scene where the world held still for a few seconds in the Big Apple.
Drowning in icy jewelry heavily clanking on his neck and a grill in his mouth, Trippie seems spaced out at times — but don't be fooled by his blank gaze, because his career is exactly where it's supposed to be. The "Wish" rapper just turned 20 in June, and is making the best music of his career with the stylish Leray by his side, an artist in her own right. Chiming in where she sees fit, Coi transforms into Trippie's hype man and crazed No. 1 fan in an instant.
Redd's last LP arrived last November with the third installment of his Love Letter to You series, which notched an impressive debut at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, his first top five to date, moving 84,000 album equivalent units in its first week. Expectations are even higher for !, short for Immortal, and a slight homage to late friend XXXTentacion's ?.
! is set to drop on Aug. 9 and boasts limited but powerful features across the 14 tracks, as Trippie teams with Playboi Carti, who have plenty more in the stash, legendary West Coast OG The Game, Lil Baby, Lil Duke, and his girlfriend. Redd's already set the table with a pair of singles in "Mac 10" and "Under Enemy Arms." The 20-year-old explained that he tapped into his TR666 alter-ego for the sinister "Under Enemy Arms," which saw him don red facepaint to channel some of his favorite WWE superstars like Kane, Sting, and the enigmatic daredevil Jeff Hardy.
The project also boasts some of Trippie's most heavy content to date. The second track, "Snake Skin" will touch on the dangers of suicide and how young people need to avoid comparing their lives to one another. "It's kind of suicidal in a stay away from it type of shit," he says. "That's the whole concept of it, stay away from suicide. Don't worry about what other people say, you could be doing what they're doing or even better than them. It's just living life and knowing how to overcome shit." The very next cut is titled "Be Yourself," and tells listeners to do just that or don't bother being around. "The next song song directly after it is saying, 'If you're not gonna be yourself, kill yourself,'" Trippie states.
There was also supposed to be a Lil Wayne collaboration, but he opted to stash the record after it leaked online. Instead, Trippie elected to have an ode to one of his heroes with the track taking on Wayne's namesake. Naturally, Trippie lit up when our conversation surrounded Weezy F. Baby. Redd goes against the grain when declaring Tha Carter IV to be his favorite Wayne album, even listing Rebirth in his top five."You gotta think that Wayne fans aren't all of a certain crowd," Trippie said of Weezy's daring forays into worlds outside hip-hop. "He was going mainstream at that point, looking to show the world he could do more with some crossover shit."
Like Wayne did with Rebirth, Trippie will pivot sonically later this year when he releases the rock album he's been dying to put out, that he completed with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. "I made five of the songs in one night and fixed the rest of the songs in the next two to three nights," he says of the untitled project. "It was [Travis and I] sending stuff back-and-forth, like old Blink-182 shit and making new shit with Dance Gavin Dance. I was coming up with concepts with older rock records and reconstructing beats. Three songs are a remake of a beat, but it's going to be different."
Following the release of !, fans can expect a myriad of visuals to arrive alongside the project, as Trippie flexes his creativity behind the lens. When speaking to Tim Westwood back in June, the "Fuck Love" rapper explained that the purpose of this album was all about "elevation" and taking the next step in his career. Trippie clearly has a plan for longevity in hip-hop, as he's already outlasted some of his SoundCloud generation compatriots and 2018 XXL Freshman classmates that joined him in the "white-hot space" Jay-Z described during his New York Times interview.
With all the progress he's made in just three years, Trippie knows there's much more to be done to reach the superstar status he desires. "You gotta think about how for two projects I didn't get any kind of push behind besides a billboard or some shit," he says of the expected commercial push from 10K Projects and Caroline to come. "I haven't done much press for the albums, it was more of me being, 'Here you go, fans.'"