The 19-year-old singer/rapper Trippie Redd released his third installment of the “Love Letter to You” series of mixtapes on Nov. 9 (just after releasing his debut album “LIFE’S A TRIP” in August of this year). The Ohio musician has been going full-throttle since releasing his first full length mixtape, “A Love Letter to You,” in 2017; he released his second installment of the “ALLTY” series in October of 2017 and his debut album in the summer of 2018.
The combination of “Love Scars,” the wide-reaching hit track off of his first mixtape, and the steady releases following his first glimpse of fame have made Redd into the social media mogul and renowned artist he is today.
Redd’s music is a mix of R&B, punk rock and trap rap. The otherworldly instrumentals he rides, along with his individualistic vocals and impeccable energy have succeeded in establishing him a firm fan base. However, his generally lazy verse writing and occasional repugnant subject matter could hinder his growth as an artist.
For instance, the song “Woah Woah Woah” off of “A Love Letter to You 2” has an infectious and uplifting rhythm, but every repetition of its hook is plagued with the tasteless first line: “Wake up f— yo’ b—- before I piss.” This is only one instance of Redd’s crude language habits. Yes, this line may not be much of a red-flag, considering the standard topics modern trap rappers bring to the table, but Redd has the potential to be much more than simply a stereotypical rap act.
Redd has the ability to make masterpieces with his alluring harmonies and underrated bar-spitting talents, and he holds connections with some of the most prolific trap producers in the industry (present throughout Redd’s discography), which enhances his music’s mood tremendously. Redd has all the necessary assets to go above and beyond, but it seems as if he is wasting his potential by failing to put more effort into his song writing.
“LIFE’S A TRIP” stood out to me as a major improvement from the first two chapters of “ALLTY.” Redd’s debut album track list was cohesive, the tracks transition wonderfully and the first seven songs on the record are remarkably hard-hitting.
The first song, “Together,” is a vulnerable ballad detailing Redd’s dependence on others to help him battle his inner demons. The lyrics and instrumental components of the intro provide the opportunity for the song to resonate with listeners’ emotions. The emphatic two-track “Taking a Walk” follows the intro with one of the smoothest-sounding hooks I’ve heard from any trap song. The third song on Redd’s debut album, “Wish (fet.Trippie Redd) [TrippieMix],” is a remix of “Wish,” which was previously released on producer Diplo’s 2018 EP, “California.” His deviation managed to improve from the original with increased background vocals on Redd’s part, intensifying his presence over the playful instrumental composed by Diplo.
Redd’s fifth song, “Forever Ever (feat. Young Thug & Reese LAFLARE),” showed improvement from his previous attempts at incorporating features into his songs. For instance, Redd’s track from “A Love Letter to You,” “Blade of Woe,” is the epitome of atrocious features, as is visible in Famous Dex’s “lit” verse:
“I got my 30 on my waist (I do)
Run up on me I’ma spray (I will)
Tats up on my face (ah-what)
My lil brother beat the case
Smoking dopey to the face (what)
Take a knee and say my grace (I did)
My shooters, they don’t play (ah-what)
Call up Trippie, he don’t play yeah (ah-Dexter)”
No joke, that’s all he contributes.
The lethargic “verse” from Dex drained the track of all the energy Redd put forth in his bumpin’ opening verse. The instrumental alone is capable of blowing out speakers, which only emphasizes the missed opportunity resulting from the included feature.
In contrast, “Forever Ever” employs a crafty Young Thug verse and hook that shares chemistry with Redd’s verse on the track, while Reese LAFLARE contributes a fantastic bridge that helps to close out the song. The instrumental is also immensely dynamic, allowing the three rappers to create an exceptional experience with the track.
As I said earlier, the first seven tracks are both fantastic counterparts of each other and can stand alone as quality songs. Although the album is halted by the empty space of “How You Feel,” the track list picks up again with songs such as “UKA UKA” and “Shake It Up,” which make the debut a well-rounded project overall.
Similarly, to “LIFE’S A TRIP,” “A Love Letter to You 3” begins strongly with its opening tracks. For instance, “Topanga” opens the mixtape on a high note. Although the song begins with an instrumental that sounds most appropriate for a Verizon Wireless commercial, when Redd enters with the kicking base it becomes hypnotizing. The song is an undeniable hip-shaker, but I can’t get over the fact that it is too similar to “Guatemala” by Swae Lee (released earlier in 2018) in terms of theme, structure and atmosphere. It seems like Redd stole Lee’s blueprints, which slightly downgrades the track for me.
The following song, “Fire Starter,” creates a perfectly warped environment where Trippie can use his scratchy singing talent to its max capacity. The song is an uplifting anthem against adversity, and the hook displays Redd at his vocal best. “Fire Starter” is one of the stronger tracks on the project despite the hollow verse Redd included.
“Negative Energy (feat. Kodie Shane)” is also a strong piece from the project. Redd brings a bouncy flow to his verse and chorus over a delicate instrumental, while Kodie Shane contributes a beautiful verse to the softer track that actually stands out rather than fade away in the flow.
After these early tracks, the project drops off a bit for me. For instance, “Love Scars 3,” a sequel of Redd’s original ticket to fame, has an attractive vocal sample that loops throughout the instrumental, but the overall experience of the song does not compare to its previous chapters. Redd definitely gives a solid performance with his diverse tones and voices; however, the briefness of the two-minute song is largely inferior to the first and second parts of “Love Scars.” This is a major disappointment in the album, not only because of the multitude of fans who loved the first two parts, but because the track is possibly the most anticipated of all the titles listed on the mixtape.
Furthermore, songs such as “Wicked” and “Loyalty Before Royalty” are valid head-bangers that profess trap quality but don’t shine like “Stoves on 14 (feat Black Jezuss)” and “Poles 1469,” from part one of the “ALLTY” trilogy. Redd may have set the bar a smidge too high on his previous mixtapes, because even when he succeeds in creating a quality track, it can’t help but be lost in the shadow of his previous successes. Therefore, it is very difficult to classify “A Love Letter to You 3” as a step forward in Redd’s career.
Not only do Redd’s performances on “A Love Letter to You 3” cow to those on “LIFE’S A TRIP” or the first two chapters of “A Love Letter to You,” but the performances from his features are a major step back from what “Forever Ever” proposed. Although notable artists like Juice WRLD, YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Tory Lanez are featured on the project, their performances are not prominent enough to be memorable. Subsequently, it appears that Redd is not collaborating with other artists as effectively as he could. A major improvement he needs to focus on following this mixtape is implementing guest appearances into his music with greater precision.
Although the mixtape is a slight disappointment, I am still a Redd fan who is excited as ever for the day his sophomore album drops. It is just unfortunate that Redd did not capitalize on his debut album’s success with this third installment to the “ALLTY” mixtapes.