In truly unusual fashion, Trippie Redd didn’t release any full projects in the year 2022. Returning with the new year’s first hit album, the prolific rapper isn’t changing things up too much – though it’s certainly a step in the right direction after his completely intolerable Trip At Knight project capitalizing off of the burgeoning “rage” movement. Redd tones down his creepy and toxic lyrics and his most obnoxious and nasal vocal tendencies on MANSION MUSIK as well, but instead of being outlandish and baffling, he settles into 25(!) tracks of boring, repetitive, borderline competence. The project does recruit a truly impressive roster of guests to break up the monotony, but few are truly on their A-game as listeners are made to sit through 76 minutes of mind-numbing assembly-line trap. The highlights exist, but there’s just too much digging required to get to them.
The project doesn’t do a great job of drawing listeners in, opening with three of its longest tracks that feature Redd pushing his way through extended verses as if he were a lyrical mastermind and not somebody that attracts fans mainly for the vibes. Actually focusing on what he’s saying is not advisable, as he drops a couple too many awkward pop culture references (though a Kung Fu Panda “skidoosh” is appreciated on the opening title track) and truly bizarre references that verge on a NAV-esque insistence on exact rhyme schemes instead of believable expression. I wish we got more of the unique guitar at the end of the opener interspersed into the typical eerie bell tones, trap rolls and fizzy synths, because the next two tracks essentially have the same beat as well. An Auto-Tuned Chief Keef comes by on Atlantis, mixed oddly quietly, both of these things dimming his trademark wild energy which would have been nice to match the instrumental.
It often feels like Redd is just speeding to the end rhyme and disregarding the rhythm getting to it, cramming in too many syllables, but it’s better than his yelling on “PSYCHO.” The song might have hit hard with someone like Denzel Curry on top of the beat, but Redd is enough of a poser in the song’s heavier territory that the massive bass hits and the annoying squealing sound just verge on parody. A chilled-out Future is the last guest that would fit, and he ends up dropping a slur as well. Future sounds a little more animated on the next track “FULLY LOADED,” though Lil Baby is asleep at the wheel, while Redd’s repetitive hook works a little better over a more engaging trap beat. “KNIGHT CRAWLER” has been drawing a lot of attention for being an average Juice WRLD song that people are overhyping because it’s nice to hear him having fun – it’s clear how much more of a musician someone like Juice is compared to Redd, however, as he hits every pocket. To demonstrate his unoriginality further, the next track is titled “VAN HELSING,” as Redd forgets the vampire gimmick is already taken. First half tracks like “DARK BROTHERHOOD” – with another underwhelming Lil Baby verse – and “KILLIONAIRE” continue to fall into blandness, more boring synth cascades, eyeroll-inducing lyrics, and grating voices.
The track “FREE RIO,” despite more of the bizarre voices and moments where it feels like a disjointed freestyle, is kind of fun – the freestyle aspect is honestly part of the charm. With a more refreshing piano beat and interesting synth tones, there’s more space in the instrumental for Redd to show off, and he’s hit or miss in that area. “GOODFELLAS” is the first really solid track here, with an innovative beat that feels like three different drum patterns playing overtop of each other – but unlike the others, it overwhelms in a good way, especially when Nardo Wick drops by to deliver the album’s best verse in his cold-hearted cadence. It doesn’t work as well when Redd calls himself a “big poo,” punctuating it with a fart noise. “KRZY TRAIN” is bogged down by laughable mixing issues during Travis Scott’s verse and a breezy, light chorus clashing with some Sabbath-style chugging guitar, while “MUSCLES” is full of awkward flow switches and stolen bars from some of last year’s best hip-hop projects.
The general sense of confusion persists into the back half, kicking off with the track “HIGH HOPES,” where Redd insists that his dealings with a rat “telling things” was exactly “like a spelling bee.” Wasting one of the better beats with a truly underwhelming hook, I wish we heard more of the fun drum fills on this one elsewhere. “DIE DIE,” on the other hand, just feels like a leftover rage beat from Trip At Knight, this time featuring a verse where Redd seemingly experimented with sounding as grating as possible by debuting a new voice that sounds like he’s saying every word while breathing in and trying not to choke. Most of the smaller-name features in this zone blend in and don’t derail things as much as Redd himself, but Rylo Rodriguez on the otherwise nondescript “WITHCRAFT” and Rich the Kid on “WHO ELSE!” send things further off the rails – though the latter actually finds Redd having a blast, punctuating every threat and shoutout with a “who else?” It’s a fun concept for a rap track, as Redd almost endearingly owns up to the fact that he’s always talking about the same thing with a shrug. Fijimacintosh might be the lowest-profile guest here, but he actually caught my attention on “HIDEOUT” with an interesting, breathy and high-pitched voice. Trippie Redd, however, continues to overplay his hand on tracks like “BIGGEST BIRD,” making an overdone coffin/coughing pun that could have been left without “SHE DAYYYYYY-UD” belted in a mock-emo cadence.
The biggest miss on the whole project, however, might be the appropriately named “TOILET WATER.” The beat might have been innovative if it wasn’t so off-pace with the performers, a helicopter whirr of a high-pitched, digitized roll coming in to drill straight into the ear cavity while Redd and Ski Mask the Slump God rhyme over toilet flushes and lean heavily into the scatological. The tracks that come after it to close things out don’t do much to improve matters, whether it’s the vampire squids and Sid the Science Kid references on “PURE,” belting out “RAWWWWK” on “ROCK OUT,” the mind-numbingly repetitive hook on “ARMAGEDDON,” the DaBaby feature on “NUN,” or trying to capitalize on a TikTok trend with legendary memester Lil B on “SWAG LIKE OHIO PT. 2.” The sleepy track “COLORS” mercifully brings the year’s first big album to a close.
With how much Trippie Redd I’ve been made to sit through dating back a couple years, it’s a wonder that he’s still only 23 years old – I was initially going to suggest that with his lack of originality, it wouldn’t be long before younger artists passed him by. There’s still time to turn things around, but it’s not looking likely.
Favourite Tracks: GOODFELLAS, KNIGHT CRAWLER, WHO ELSE!
Least Favourite Track: TOILET WATER