Trip Lee’s new mixtape, The Waiting Room, drops tomorrow, and the rapper, author, and pastor took some time to explain what he’s been up to, the new record, and what’s to come.
This period between 2014’s Riseand this year’s The Waiting Roomhas been one of great transition.
Trip and his family relocated from Washington D.C. to Atlanta, GA, where he planted a new church. This coincided with the release of his book “Rise” and also the ensuing tour for the record.
“It’s been a busy few years,” said Lee, who also battles with chronic fatigue syndrome. “My health has been up and down during that season as well.”
Nevertheless, he pushed on until people were “banging down his door” for new music.
“I was itching to write some stuff, and started working on it early in the year,” he shared. “I feel great about it.”
Interestingly enough, Trip decided to call the new project a mixtape rather than an album. When asked the difference, he couldn’t really say himself.
“I think that no one knows the difference between a mixtape and an album anymore,” he said with a laugh. “It’s kinda lost meaning. Basically, what it means to me right now is, ‘This is not my album’. I want to give people new music. I’m not going to do a ton of music videos. To me, that doesn’t mean, the music quality is low. I wouldn’t want to put it out if the quality of music isn’t up to par.”
With the statement of, “This is not my album,” that implies there will be an album. According to Trip, this is indeed the case.
“There will be an album Lord willing, sooner than later. There isn’t an exact timeline, but there’s stuff I have in mind, stuff the label has in mind, we just gotta decide to flesh it out.”
The rapper already has in mind certain topics to cover and people he’d like to work with when this new project comes to fruition.
For now, Trip Lee and his fans, are in the waiting room, held up to this next venture in music.
The name of the mixtape suits the concept of the project. Each song tackles a “waiting period” in Lee’s life as God is on the other side of the lobby ready to see Him in His time.
The biggest waiting room in Trip’s life is his body. He is waiting for his body to be healed.
“I think it’s hard for people to grasp this, but people see that I do a lot of stuff and say, ‘I know Trip has an illness, but he’s alright’ and I am, but it is the hardest thing about every part of my life. The hardest thing about my music, my books, my marriage and being a pastor. There’s this longing to be healed and have a new body.”
A new track called “Longer” asks, “How long until you take this away?”
“I’m waiting on that most often, and it teaches me to trust Him.”
Trip fully expects to hear lots of stories from people sharing their “waiting room” experiences with him. In the past, “Sweet Victory” has been one of those songs in which people have revealed the song to be therapeutic in helping them deal with everything from depression to chemotherapy.
He had spoken with the team at Reach about asking people what they are waiting on and then compiling it for something or maybe even doing a Facebook Live chat about it.
Another direct inspiration for this mixtape came indirectly from being a pastor.
“I understand as an artist, a preacher, and a writer, the main tool that I bring to my art and my work is my own heart. If I’m an athlete, I make sure my legs are strong so I can get the elevation on my jumper, but me, my heart and my mind are what I bring to my work.”
He explained that as a pastor, he spends time with people who are going through different situations. These situations, whether positive or negative, affect his emotions.
“What people don’t often understand about being a pastor when you’re a member of the church, you know the stuff people that you’re close to are going through. When you’re a pastor of the church, you know what everyone is going through for the most part,” revealed Lee. “All of that could depress you, but there are the joys too.”
He feels being a pastor does influence the music but it comes through strengthening his mind and heart.
“I would go crazy if I thought I could just bare these burdens,” he said. “If it were up to me, everyone would just get fixed. But it’s not. My job as a pastor is to just walk with them and to help them understand what God has said in His word. At the end of the day, I’m a leader and the main way I lead is by saying, ‘Here’s what God said’.”
As everyone awaits the new project tomorrow, all we are left with is the cover, which was brought to life by Arturo Torres. Torres famously illustrated the “Rap Yearbook” in 2015.
Getting Torres involved with this cover was a “dream” of Trip Lee’s. Reach’s art director at the time was Alex Medina. Media was able to connect with Torres about doing the cover.
Medina and Trip brainstormed for ideas, and it finally clicked when Medina went to a museum and saw a Norman Rockwell painting with a bunch of people sitting on this long couch. They all had different expressions and looked to be in different places in life.
“We said, well what if we flip that and make it a diverse picture? Let’s have people different ages, ethnicities, and everyone in a waiting room. Sort of saying, ‘We are all in this together.”
What we see right now is a cropped cover. The full picture extends out to the back cover. There is also an old lady dancing, a kid, and a man in a suit.
This concept of “we are all in this together” is the focal point of the record. Lee is just hoping people connect with the mixtape. He says the diversity of the songs put something in there for everyone no matter what they are going through.
“I got one called ‘Clouds’, it’s about dreams and ambitions. I got a song called “Still Unashamed,” where I talk about 10 years later since my first record came out and since 116 started popping.”
The song features Tedashii, and they both proclaim that they are still unashamed after all these years.
“I have a song called ‘I Don’t Know’ which is my favorite. It laments the hard things about life and asking God to change stuff,” he explained. “‘Ready’ wrestles with my dad’s death and telling death that I’m ready for it. Death has already been defeated so I’m ready. ‘Money Up’ is role playing from a typical rapper’s perspective.”
Once The Waiting Room drops Trip Lee doesn’t plan to stop. He’s going full throttle into 2017 and has a lot of goals in mind. One of which, aside from a new album, is a book.
“Some of them [goals] have to do with a book I’ve been working on. It’s a book I worked on and we kinda pressed pause on it. I’m going to be finishing it soon,” he said. “I’ll be working on new music, and there’s a lot of other stuff I’ll be working on that I don’t want to talk about prematurely, but I think 2017 will see me venturing into new things and I’m excited.”