"I come from nothing, so when I see all this shit I just think bigger about it..."

“It was one of those highs where I just raised my eyes up like this. I had my forehead scrunched up and I was smiling. I was looking at it like, ‘Damn. The plaque. I got it!’”

Trippie Redd is perched upright in the back of a parked car, his girlfriend slumped alongside him, as he inhales a cloud of smoke. The Canton, Ohio, native is currently recalling the proudest moment of his short, but quickly snowballing, career. After years of watching with his favourite artists achieve RIAA Certification milestones, he received his first for ‘Love Scars’, the angsty break-up song that opens his breakthrough mixtape ‘A Love Letter To You’. “I know I’m gonna have another one sitting right next to it, platinum, too,” he adds, exhaling. “It’s like a stepping stone, the gold.”

It’s Trippie’s first time in London and he’s here to play a pair of shows; the first sold out in just 11 minutes, and the second was added to fulfill the further demand. He’s already been spotted by fans during a shopping spree in Selfridges and is appreciative of - and still slightly overwhelmed by - the love he’s receiving so far away from home. Nowadays he says he’d struggle to do something as regular as go outside and ride a bike in Los Angeles, where he currently resides, but he’s getting used to the fame and describes it as “a dream come true”.

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Much of this appreciation is drawn from humble beginnings. “I come from nothing, so when I see all this shit I just think bigger about it. Canton is a small town. [There’s] a lot of violence, a lot of shit going on,” he reflects. “Nobody ever leaves, it’s like a death trap. But I left.” He’s reminded of another local export. “Marilyn Manson definitely left!” he declares. “I always thought he was fire. I still listen to his projects, I fuck with a lot of different shit.”

If you’ve heard any of Trippie Redd’s music, or watched any of his videos, then this won’t come as a surprise. His work is impossible to box into any single genre, containing elements of lo-fi trap rap, R&B, pop and sample-based hip-hop, and his influences span everything from MF DOOM to the Deftones. Trippie embraces being different, in everything he does - which probably explains why he’s so easy to spot while he wanders around a London department store. “I do everything distinct to myself,” he says. “You know me from far away, up close - two miles down the street, you gonna know it’s me.”

A lot of his visual cues can be traced to his love of anime. It’s particularly apparent in music videos like ‘Hellboy’, in which he battles a giant demon, or ‘Dark Knight Dummo’, in which he and Travis Scott fend off a zombie horde. “I fuck with One Piece, and Fairy Tail. Deadman’s Wonderland is my favourite one for sure,” he says, enthusiastically reeling off his recommendations, the latter of which inspired a song title on his latest mixtape, ‘A Love Letter To You 2’. “My homie Sauce Walka got me hooked on Terra Formars. It’s basically fucking cockroaches got mutated to big ass alien soldiers, and they try to kill all the humans and shit. It’s funny. It really opened my mind watching certain shit.”

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It sounds cliché when he declares that he’s “creating his own sound,” but you’d struggle to find someone who sounds like him: “I just rapped like me. I sang. I screamed too, like a singy-scream.” During solo recording sessions early in his career, he’d experiment with his vocals free from the judgement of others: freestyling to bars, auto tuning his voice and occasionally pushing his voice to its limits in a melodic rage. “I would overpower my voice,” he recalls. “Really lay something down that I wouldn’t say around others, but it would come clean.” He admits that he’s been thinking of going back to recording solo again in order to tap into that level of creativity - free from judgement - once more. “You know, this shit is art,” he appeals. “I gotta work on my craft by myself sometimes.”

In a generation of artists that boast about how quickly they can make a hit, Trippie is focused on longevity, and takes pride in the blood, sweat and tears that go into each song. “A timeless concept is a concept anyone can relate to,” he says. “You gotta keep working hard to get to your best. I’m gonna be the best star I can be, in whatever genre, or wherever they put me.”

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Words: Grant Brydon
Photography: Elliott Kennedy
Fashion: Jayson Hindley

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