Before his 18th birthday, Trippie Redd had the world mesmerized by his spellbinding mixtape, A Love Letter to You. For the Canton, OH upstart, his boisterous attitude coupled with his melodic hooks earned him co-signs from the likes of Lil Wayne, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, and Chris Brown.
Redd’s penchant for songwriting and penning sticky hooks has him speeding past his contemporaries like Jeff Gordon. His biggest record, “Love Scars/You Hurt Me” — which currently sits at 18.7 million plays on SoundCloud — finds Redd swerving through the turbulence of a troubled relationship. The MC’s fiery demeanor, funky hair choices, and pugnacious swagger helped lead him to the success he’s recently found, which includes a collab with XXXTentacion for the outro to the latter’s “Fuck Love,” which shot to No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100.
As for Redd, he unleashed his new video “Rack City/Love Scars 2” last week on YouTube. The spooky visual amassed close to 3 million videos in a week. To keep his momentum going, he also released his highly-anticipated sequel A Love Letter to You 2, which spawns the the piano-laden intro “Bust Down/Love Scars 3.” Bursting with bars like “I just got a new Porsche/ Rocket got a ‘Rari, that’s a new horse,” “Bust Down” showcases the potential oozing out of the 18-year-old phenom.
Billboard sat down with Trippie Redd to speak on his new project A Love Letter to You 2, his Lil Wayne co-sign, and why he hates being called a mumble rapper.
When did Trippie Redd fall in love with hip-hop?
Trippie Redd: In my younger stages. Like real young.
How old would you say?
Like 4, maybe 5.
Was there a specific track that you gravitated to?
It was just all the music at that time. My mom was real into like a lot of different musical artists, real artists, even back when JAY-Z and Beyoncé was together. She was playing Tupac, Ja Rule and all that kinds of shit. That’s what I was listening to when I was growing up, so it just made me have an ear for music. I fuck with it.
My dad used to play me different kinds of shit too. My dad — even though he wasn’t there a lot — he taught Mama all the music. At the end of the day, I really got it from him, but from her at the same time.
Which artist caught your attention early on?
[Lil] Wayne. I keep this in my bag and I don’t go anywhere without it [pulls out a picture of him and Lil Wayne]. [Laughs.] It was fun. He hopped on another song. We was working way before that though. I had told my fans a long time ago when I had blue dreads, I was like, “Me and Wayne about to have a track.” Me, Wayne and [Lil] Twist. Everybody was waiting for that shit.
Lil Twist was trying to sign you at one point, right?
I mean, we were cool. It was like, I thought I was going to be…I don’t know. I don’t even wanna talk about it for real [Laughs]. That’s the homie, though. That’s my brother.
You had a strong relationship with your brother before he passed. What was your relationship like with him?
My brother was like my dad. I got baby pictures with this n—a holding me, this n—a buying me shoes, this n—a driving me around. I was always with my brother in my younger stages. That’s another person that influenced a lot of [my music taste] too. His favorite artist was Tupac. That’s my second favorite artist. I fuck with that shit.
Do you have a favorite Tupac song?
What’s the best advice your brother gave you that sticks with you today?
It might be little to y’all, but to me, it was a big difference in my life when he told me this shit: I always look down for some reason, but he always told me to keep my head up. That’s what I been doing.
On “Rack City/Love Scars 2,” you said, “Tell my mama I’m sorry for the life I chose.” Are there any regrets that you have in your life that you wish you can take back?
Nah, because life is a lot of experience. You just gotta learn, you gotta live and learn. You live and you learn. There’s nothing you can really do. Like I don’t wish I can go back and do shit. If it happened, then it happened.
What was the first record you ever wrote?
I didn’t write it, but the song is called “Manu Ginobili.” [Laughs].
Paying homage to an NBA great. How did that even come about?
I was playing 2K, bro. I just had a created team, and I hated playing with like real teams and shit. I don’t like 2K like that.
Did you play NBA 2K18, the latest release?
It’s just like, “Why would I play a game when I’m doing shit that I can do in real life?” [Laughs.] Like, I don’t hate it. I don’t hate 2K as a brand, or any of their shit, I just don’t be getting any of their games that they be coming out with.
“Love Scars” has over 16 million plays on SoundCloud. When did you know that that record was going to be a smash?
When I first dropped it. I remember I was on my mama’s couch, and I just threw that bitch [onto SoundCloud] like, “Whew.” This was right after the first three tapes I had did and shit. I went to Columbus, OH and I was working on a project with my producer Harold and my other producer Elliott Trent. I just went into the studio, recorded that shit in a dark-ass room. It was some other shit. I couldn’t really see nobody, so it was vibe and I one-taked the whole song. I didn’t write none of that shit. Like, I don’t write my music. It became a vibe. I dropped that shit on the computer at the crib.
Do you feel any pressure to succeed with your sequel project A Love Letter to You 2?
All I do is get better. I’m young. I feel like Baby Wayne.
A lot of people are putting you and Lil Uzi Vert in the same category. In your opinion, which comparisons do you love and which ones do you hate that people make?
I don’t hate it, but I don’t really love [the Uzi comparisons] either. He’s cool. That’s the homie. It just be like, whatever, I guess. We can sound alike, if that’s what you think. That’s your opinion. Me, I’m trying to sound like me. I don’t be trying to sound like somebody. I fuck with bro’s music, though. I listen to it all the time.
How did the “Fuck Love” record with you and XXXTentacion come about?
Detail had produced some shit and I had a studio session with him and X. I had took the beat, because X didn’t want the beat. I wanted the beat, so I went and laid down the chorus. I was in Wayne’s studio in Miami with Hoody. He let me throw some shit, so I just did that and kept the chorus. I posted a little snippet on Instagram, and that n—a must have screenshotted that shit fast as fuck, talking about, “Boy, if you don’t give me this for my album, n—a….” I was like, “You can have it, bro. I ain’t tripping.”
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Trippie Redd?
It’s not what it looks like [Laughs]. That’s all I can say. People just be trying to judge books by its cover and I can understand. I’m a funny-looking motherfucker, I got shit going on, I got red hair, I got tats on my face, you feel me? I got a bunch of 14’s tatted on me. That’s how they can judge me off the rip, but it’s like, all this shit got meaning. I ain’t doing all this for nothing. I’m a human at the end of the day, like I really do this. I ain’t ass, I can rap, for real. I can sing for real. That’s what they misinterpret me for, like I’m a mumble rapper or something.
You have the co-signs from Wayne, Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti.
Chris Brown, Kanye, The Weeknd, Nav, 21 [Savage]. He just DM’ed me the other day.
You guys have a record coming?
We’re supposed to be linking up on some shit.
Noisey called you the SoundCloud Frank Sinatra. What do you have to say about that?
I mean, it doesn’t make no sense. That’s the only thing with me. It just didn’t make sense. SoundCloud’s Frank Sinatra? I mean, I got the same amount of streams that I do views on SoundCloud. Spotify, iTunes, all doing the same thing, so why it gotta be SoundCloud? I mean, it’s just the image, like I said. People judge a book by its cover and shit and now, all of a sudden, I’m a SoundCloud guy.
In a past interview, you said that you want Grammys and billboards. Are you worried at some point you might have to compromise whether it’s your look or music to attain those things?
One thing I’m not going to do is change up anything. Like, I’m always gonna be me. I’m not gonna compromise, change shit, I’m gonna be the same n—a. Y’all either gonna like it or not. Seems like they’re liking it right now. It’s getting there. It’s building up. For me to be building up the amount of fans that I got now in only two to three months, it’s really faster than all these n—as. All I can do is just sit back and be patient. I’m impatient, but I feel like everybody is impatient.
And you’re only 18 years old.
And it’s funny because I was always told, “By the time you turn 18 bro, you’re gonna be blah, blah, blah.” Turned 18 and I’m really doing this shit.