Trip Lee’s Rise answers challenge of disease

By admin Nov 26, 2014

Jeff Neukom


“Christian rap?” I remember the time my dad looked at me in disbelief when he heard hip-hop blaring from my car’s speakers only to realize that it wasn’t the typical misogynistic, materialistic fodder to which we have grown so accustomed. Rap is quickly becoming a staple in today’s Christian music, much to the surprise of many.

Christian rap and hip-hop have come a long way in recent years, with very talented artists rising to the top of the CCM—contemporary Christian music—scene. Artists like Lecrae, Braille, Propaganda, Beautiful Eulogy and Trip Lee are examples of seriously talented rappers and poets. Sadly, most go under the radar, as they do not perpetuate the inexplicably beloved themes of money, money, money and sex.

If given the chance, Trip Lee’s Rise and albums like it could flip the rap and hip-hop scene on its head. The most impressive aspect of Rise? I’ll give you a hint—it’s not his lyrical talent, nor is it the sick beats; instead, it’s the time and effort Trip put into its release.

Of course, you could name 10 artists off the top of your head that put a lot of work into an album. But how many of them are battling chronic fatigue syndrome? CFS is an incurable, untreatable disorder that does exactly what you might guess—exhausts.

In an interview with Rapzilla, Trip said, “I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling rested. It’s just not something that happens in my life… but the random times it kind of happens, it feels like a million bucks.”

CFS forced Trip to drop out of college in the spring of 2010. It made it nearly impossible to complete an internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. So how in the world could he produce an album as good as Rise?

In that same interview, he said, “I would tell kids [in his ministry] sometimes, ‘I feel terrible.’ Sometimes I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ trying to make up excuses in my mind, but I really pushed myself to do it because I saw the fruit from it.”

Let’s talk Rise. The album itself is diverse, featuring different textures, beats and even Spanish on track “Manolo.” This track is a Spanish sobriquet for Emmanuel, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience in and of itself. It layers textures over its theme of using the word of God as a weapon against evil. Lecrae makes an appearance on “Manolo,” which only adds to the song’s breadth.

On “All Rise Up,” he directly addresses critics of Reach Records, the label that released his album, making it very clear that he doesn’t spit bars for dolla bills. It features, for lack of a better word, a solo from Lee here, where he drops his last line without a beat at all.

“Lights On” is an especially strong track, portraying God as both source of light and pilot of his life. For Trip, he feels that he does not know where he is, and he is rendered helpless in the dark. If he can’t see where he is, how can he possibly see where he wants to go?

The album closes with “Sweet Victory,” a track that starts slow. Subtle claps accentuate Trip as he alternates between rap and his rap-sing hybrid. He proclaims the strength he receives from God, even in the midst of his sometimes-unbearable fatigue.

“We still runnin’ even though we limpin’,” Lee raps, capturing his experience and encouraging listeners to push forward. After all, if Lee can produce an album on top of his work in ministry, don’t you think you can get those last few pages read for class?

Even for those who do not believe in the Christian God, Lee’s album is far from alienating. It is not rooted in the traditional praise music that is associated with the CCM. It is convincing and enthralling, and, if nothing else, Lee deserves our respect for rising to CFS’s challenge.

By admin

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