Returning once again with what is now his seventh project to hit the top 5 on Billboard’s albums chart since summer of 2018, emo-trap and cloud rap superstar Trippie Redd drops his second project of the year with Trip at Knight. Although promoted as a sequel to his 2018 debut album, Life’s A Trip, Redd doesn’t exactly return to his old style. Instead, for the second time this year he bases an entire project off of a single sound, rapidly narrowing his genre focus down – this time taking a shot at the nascent “rage” movement, featuring neon, cartoonish synth patterns ready for use in the wildest mosh pits. While his Travis Barker-assisted rock-oriented project earlier this year was genuinely an admirable experiment (though certainly not without its drawbacks), Redd once again falls back into uninspired formulas, this time with a different sound. It’s already been joked about to death that Redd essentially uses the exact same beat across 18 tracks here, and listening to the full project in one sitting is an agonizing experience as a result. While some of Redd’s most colourful, personality-driven performances appear here to prevent this from matching the lowest lows of his career, Redd still has yet to deliver a project that reaches a baseline of tolerability. His continued popularity is baffling.
The project opens with one of its more engaging instrumentals on “Molly Hearts,” with the constant, sugary synth tones that persist incessantly throughout the entire album creating a memorable, melodic loop instead of resorting to blasting your ears with explosive chords. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean much – so many of the problems I end up having with Trippie Redd’s music simply comes down to the fact that his vocals are so entirely unappealing, and this track is no different. While he mercifully didn’t break into his typical garbled, strained tones, Redd’s wailing, extended notes where it sounds like he’s trying to adopt the most obnoxious emo inflections he possibly can are incredibly grating to get through. Caterwauling away and trying to reach notes he shouldn’t in his background ad-libs, it clashes heavily with the garish synth palate and makes me long for any sort of nuance whatsoever. By the time he sneers “Mister Mosebyyyyyy” while sounding like he’s pinching his nose closed over the overwhelming synth stabs, the next track “MP5” is essentially a lost cause as well. It’s been an issue his whole career, but on this project more than any other Redd forgoes any kind of lyricism by simply listing pop culture references from his teenage years. I’m not expecting conscious bars from him – just anything at all. Make it ignorant, yet charismatic if you must. The opening run continues as “Betrayal” boasts a feature from Drake, and hearing such an influential, popular artist on these beats is genuinely hilarious – even with his typical low-effort, staccato bars, he sounds completely out of place on such haphazard material. The one and only beat pattern is already burned into your brain like some kind of new Guantanamo technique by the time you get to track 4, “Finish Line,” where Redd steals Playboi Carti’s vampire gimmick and spends an entire bridge in an uncomfortable bellow, frantically clarifying that his victim, in fact, allowed him to turn her.
From time to time, certain tracks are elevated slightly by their features. “Holy Smokes” brings aboard Lil Uzi Vert, who fits quite a bit better in the zany world painted by these instrumentals even with a brief verse where he clearly wasn’t trying all that hard. Redd drops some of his catchiest and most memorable lyrics in the chorus as well, but it’s still all drowned out by his annoying vocals. The best feature on the project easily has to go to Ski Mask the Slump God on “Demon Time” – it continues to be a wonder why he hangs around with the group of artists he does, as his speedy, technical flows offer such a different energy. Somehow, he fits in this world just as well, his strings of syllables bringing a sense of rhythmic mastery that Redd nor many of his contemporaries seem present enough to understand. On the other side of the coin, Playboi Carti, one of the only people who has more excruciating vocal performances than Redd, appears on the single “Miss the Rage,” and although it’s far from his worst, hearing these two together is still an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Hilariously enough, the track was nearly a top 10 single. The demand, somehow, is out there. The album’s opening half is rounded out by “Super Cell,” a song entirely about the anime Dragonball Z that’s good for some laughs and some downright cringeworthy lascivious puns once again proving the uncomfortable period of childhood Redd seems to be stuck in, and “Supernatural,” which of course sees Redd cutting off one of the only promising tracks on the album halfway with an abrupt beat switch to something entirely different. Redd’s punctuating higher cadence and repetitive chorus over a more percussion-heavy beat for the first minute is easily one of the better moments here, but it’s unfortunately short-lived before being overrun by more nonsense.
The album possesses not one, but two verses from artists who are no longer with us – although it does sound like the track “Matt Hardy 999” with Juice WRLD must have actually been created while the two artists were in the studio together, as the track essentially sounds like two close friends goofing around and freestyling while trying to outdo the other by saying the most ridiculous or shocking punchline. Although it’s nice to hear Juice sounding so alive and playful, the constantly shifting beat behind them doesn’t do much for the quicker flows on display here, making the whole track sound awkward and improvisatory. XXXTENTACION appears on “Danny Phantom” with a brief but once again, surprisingly gleeful and personality-driven verse abandoning his trademark edgelord persona. Still, it doesn’t make up for Redd’s drawled, repetitive hook that takes up literally everything else. The track opens with a news report on a Trippie Redd fan vandalising expensive cars, to decrease Redd’s likability even further as he seemingly takes pride in it. Sandwiched between the two posthumous features are “Vibes,” the most repetitive track of all here that’s only made all the more awful as Redd layers on a chipmunked vocal filter and him drawling extended notes on an “uhh….” that makes him sound barely conscious, and “New Money,” where Redd throws a temper tantrum with a melody that undulates back and forth for the entire duration of the track, giving off robotic Nav energy like a twisted children’s song as he wails about shutting everyone out and living his life alone.
Redd leaves some of his most low-effort tracks for the end, breezing through some of hip-hop’s most tired lyrical cliches and sounding like he’d rather be just about anywhere else on tracks like “Space Time” and “iPhone.” “Baki,” at least, has what is likely the album’s most distinctive beat, but Redd’s disinterested approach makes it hard to get excited. The project’s final two tracks are its longest, with “Rich MF” boasting what might be Redd’s career-best hook as well as Polo G and Lil Durk along for the ride. The AutoTune filter reins in some of Redd’s worst vocal stylings, and his verse sees him abandon his melodic attempts to prosper a little more with straight raps. Polo and Durk lean harder into their drill backgrounds, matching Redd’s aggressive energy for a hidden gem of a collab track. Things close with “Captain Crunch,” another posse cut where Redd invites three of Detroit’s rising stars. It’s more inconsistent, but Redd’s colder, more aggressive sound proves to be a direction that might be worth exploring a little more.
Regardless of the performances on top, Redd essentially destroyed any possible enjoyability factor of this album with his beat selection. I have no idea what kind of music listener would be into sitting down and consuming this as an album, Redd simply threw out 18 ideas and hoped one would become the next rage anthem given quite a few slightly different options to choose from. Please, I need a break. Take your time with the next one.
Favourite Tracks: Rich MF, Demon Time
Least Favourite Track: Vibes