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Witness the Rise of Trip Lee

  • Ed Cardinal Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2014 18 Nov
Witness the <i>Rise</i> of Trip Lee

Artist: Trip Lee
Title: Rise
Label: Reach Records

William Lee Barefield III, aka Trip Lee, is quite a Renaissance man for just 26 years old: Christian hip-hop standout, dedicated husband and father, seminary student, pastoral assistant, and published author. A close listen to his fifth album, Rise, gives plenty of reasons to believe he will continue thriving in each endeavor. Consistently passionate, transparent, and creative, it's on point with recent urban releases by Thi'sl (Fallen King) and Lecrae (Anomaly), both of whom drop guest rhymes on this commendable set.

Rise opens with a concept as the title track mixes robotics, R&B vocals, skittering beats, and hot electric guitars in God's courtroom (The judge is here. All rise.). Sharp wordplay also fuels "All Rise Up,” where Trip celebratesthe music of a movement not about his spotlight but rather the soul success of friends (including 116 Clique brothers Andy Mineo and Tedashii) and the heightened spirituality of the listening audience. If we all rise up, that'd be my dream / and give a standing ovation for the King, for He's good. That humility boils down to Lee just talking—nothing else—at track's end; you really get this guy's heart.

Cultural issues are stared down with humor and head-turning alike. Bass bumping "Shweet" rolls eyes at fashion and wonders, What if when we brag it wasn't 'bout the clothes or the tags . . . that'd be sweet. "Manolo" ruffles feathers comparing Bibles to the guns that cut so many lives short, but you can't deny what Trip and Lecrae spit over a throbbing, bell-ringing beat: Got that ammo locked and loaded / I keep one in my car and I got two at home / I keep my shooter close; my trigger finger stay workin'. With a "Thrift Shop" sax riff and breakbeat, "Insomniac" shoots straight about the dangers of drug use.

Lee gets domestic on "Beautiful Life 2 (Mine)," a warm tribute to his child that compares to Will Smith's "Just the Two of Us" remake. At the other end of the category, "All My Love" looks at a tough marriage: a husband addicted to internet pornography, a wife in pain, and a God who hears their prayers and heals the situation.

Worship colors the rest of Rise. “I’m Gone” talks back to the devil and feels like a jubilant hip-hop OneRepublic—excellent. “Sweet Victory” is vulnerable (We still runnin’ even though we limpin’) yet triumphant (Your Kingdom knows no end, oh Jesus). Don’t hesitate to let Trip Lee take you higher.

*Published 11/18/2014