Tony Cummings of Cross Rhythms Reports on Trip Lee

Posted: September 19, 2010 in Music
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Trip Lee: The Chart-Topping Rapper Unafraid of Words Like Eschatological

With the exception of pop rapper Toby Mac American Christian radio has for decades shown a woeful disinclination to put hip-hop on its playlists. Gospel hip-hop has existed and even grown in quality and quantity but as an underground devoid of much, if any, radio support. Now, at long, long last, the sleepy gatekeepers of both CCM (white) and gospel (black) radio stations are awakening from their decades’ long slumber. Leading the charge in confronting US radio’s long entrenched prejudices is Philadelphia-based 22 year old rapper Trip Lee. His third album ‘Between Two Worlds’ made a bit of record industry history recently being the first ever hip-hop album to debut at number one on both Billboard’s Christian and Gospel charts.

Trip told broadcaster Mike Rimmer how his ‘Between Two Worlds’ differed from his second, 2008 release ’20/20′. “The last one was devoted to helping people to see God properly, talking about who God is from the Scriptures and see him clearly; this one is helping people see life properly, in light of who God is. So it’s different in terms of the content, and I wanted it to be an album that could reach a broad span of people. It dealt with things that every single person deals with. Soundwise, it’s more musical than the past albums, more live instrumentation, more strings, a little bit less synths. I think we did some really cool things musically, and I think the Lord really graced it.”

Like previous projects ‘Between Two Worlds’ was made in Philadelphia. Said the MC, “I recorded the first half, mostly, with DJ Essence, who’s part of Lamp Mode Recordings. Towards the end of the album, I actually recorded most of it at my house, in my basement, and I recorded it myself, on Pro Tools – bought a bunch of gear, and it made the end of the process a lot easier for me. It opened me up to be more creative: record whenever I wanted to, try whatever kind of weird stuff I wanted to.”

Trip was asked where the ideas for the subjects of his raps came from. “Some of them come from conversations with people after the show. Some of them just come from conversations with people who have nothing to do with the music, but you say, ‘I do want this to be able to mean something for them’. You talk to people, you hear them talk through certain issues, and you say, ‘I really want this song to be able to reach those kinds of people, encourage those kind of people’. So it does come largely out of conversations with people – people that you’ve met, that you haven’t met yet – even just seeing what’s happening in the culture at large, I want to address those issues. All those things come into play.”

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Tony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.

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