He does all this while persistently, whether out of defiance or simply lack of concern for anything beyond what he’s feeling in the moment, avoiding definition. One moment he’s in drug anthem mode, the next he’s wailing through his feelings. Hell, with the help of Travis Barker he even dove into the world of rock with the “deluxe” edition of his last album (read: it was essentially an entirely new affair).
Yet on the other hand, it seems music writers aren’t interested in giving him the time of day. While some of his peers – take Lil Uzi Vert or Playboi Carti, both of whom appear here – enjoy more or less consistent acclaim, there’s far less time invested in understanding the bizarro world that Redd inhabits. It often reads something like a snottily written version of that Simpsons meme: “no, it’s the children who are wrong.”
After all, Redd hails from a generation raised amidst a constant cultural whirlpool, not so much introduced to any particular interest that could solidify their taste as had everything imaginable tossed at them every second they spent online – which, surely, were a lot. When his albums and mixtapes are accused of being a grab bag…well, of course they are. The thing is, he almost certainly doesn’t see them that way himself, feeling as comfortable and at home channeling his rap favorites as Deftones (his favorite band) or any number of acts he grew up on, from emotional turmoil of Linkin Park to the antics of Slipknot.
All this naysaying, for better or worse, seems to have made a real impact on his latest effort, Trip at Knight. It’s unquestionably the most focused he’s ever been, essentially slotting into a ratcheted up (or mollied up), bass thumping, forceful lane and staying there. Which isn’t to say he’s shaved away his idiosyncrasies: he’s still comparing himself to Piccolo, Goku and gleefully rapping, “You n***as Autobots, I’m a damn Gundam” on “Supernatural”. Hell, “Baki”, named for a Japanese manga & anime, also finds him name dropping Darth Vader and Joe Exotic with moments of each other. It’s a cultural smorgasbord that befits Redd’s character well.
Meanwhile, “Matt Hardy 999”, assisted by the late Juice WRLD, is one of the most delirious statements he’s released yet, sliding seamlessly back and forth between aggression and smoothness, practically intoxicating in its brazenness. In fact, Redd finds inspiration in his guests more often than not on Trip at Knight. It seems no mistake that the album closes with two guest-heavy affairs, with “Rich MF” making the most of Polo G and Lil Durk and “Captain Crunch” being a truly balls out, Detroit celebrating posse cut, wrangling Sada Baby, Babyface Ray and Icewear Vezzo into Redd’s world (and also providing yet more evidence that the rap world is looking to Detroit for influence in the early 2020s). A “Complete Edition”, cranked out shortly after the original album, even adds Drake to the mix, who, aside from a headline-making shot at eternal frenemy Kanye West, largely sleepwalks through his appearance. He’s spent too long at the top: nothing to gain, little to lose, worlds away from Redd, who feels as if he’s still out to prove himself.
In short, depending on what you look to Trippie for, Trip at Knight will either be exactly what you wanted or grow a tad exhausting. After all, however he’s been made to feel, Trippie’s most powerful instrument is his voice, particularly when it’s transformed into a mournful wail. Just check “Underwater Flyzone” off Life’s a Trip. Slowing things down for a moment, Redd delivered a simple, relatable, existentially lost slice of music. There’s little time for that on Trip at Knight, to both its benefit and detriment.
In this case, however, Redd is at his best over beats that feel like they’re nearly set to go off the rails. “Super Cell”, crammed with nerd references (“she suck them Dragon Balls”), finds the rapper exploring a universe of his own creation, with the hyperactive production verging on falling apart behind him. Meanwhile, “Demon Time” finds Redd energized by Ski Mask The Slump God, both gliding across an aggressive, nearly frantic beat. Trip at Knight is likely the closest Redd has come to snapping into the desolate, depraved world he’s so eager to create. When the ashes settle, there’s the sense that he still has some miles to go, but there’s no taking this moment away from him. You’d be a fool to try.