by Sam Robinson
Just over two years since Trip Lee dropped his Gawvi-produced opus, Rise, the pastor and rapper is releasing a brand new mixtape, The Waiting Room.
What’s the difference between an album and a mixtape? ‘Nobody knows what the difference is anymore,’ Trip told me in a conversation earlier this week, leaning on the simple fact that this compilation is longer than an EP yet shorter than an album. To me, a mixtape suggests a lesser quality than an album, but this is not the case on The Waiting Room. The mixtape is a powerful, raw statement on life as Trip knows it. From recently dashed dreams (Clouds) to ongoing struggles with chronic fatigue, to questioning God (IDK), and viewing and speaking out on social issues facing the USA (Lord Have Mercy), Trip bares all and encourages the hearer to be bold in faith and cling to God’s promises while we wait for things to be made right.
The mixtape opens with Clouds, a soaring bright and punchy number that feels like an appendix to Rise. Trip talks of the pitfalls that can result from lofty dreams in this life – ‘I don’t feel like I could fly no more’. Single Too Cold brings Gawvi into the mix with a bass heavy anthem about standing firm in faith, and leaving your ego ‘below zero’. Trip has for a long time been calling young people around the world to live an active faith with integrity – and this encouragement continues through The Waiting Room.
Lord Have Mercy mixes in some trap to commentate on racial tensions, and shows the change that is possible through Christ – it’s a very powerful track. Labelmate Tedashii checks in on Still Unashamed, a sample-driven jam that proclaims joy in the gospel of Christ. Considering the criticisms that Reach Records have faced about moving away from the gospel, this song highlights their focus and mission.
One of the standout tracks on The Waiting Room arrives on the funk-driven Money Up. Trip delves into role play to describe a longing to achieve a dream through gaining wealth (think Something New from Rise). He shows the danger of greed – ‘They say I got it all, but I ain’t really satisfied… more money, more problems to work through…’
The mixtape ends with two powerful songs. Longer (feat. India Shawn) shows Trip’s frustration through unanswered prayer for his health. It’s a call to persevere with patience despite how we might feel toward God through hardship – ‘pain is only temporary’ is the repeated refrain. Billion Years rounds out the mixtape in the same manner as Sweet Victory did on Rise, rising from ashes of pain toward glory. Taylor Hill sings hope – ‘There’s a joy that’s coming like the morning’ – a line that gave me goosebumps on first listen, as did this:
Ain’t no joy that I want that I can’t get
Life as we know it will change
I’m in there with my gang
To be with the lamb who was slain
The Waiting Room may not be of the length of an album, but all ten tracks are powerful testimonies of new life in Christ, and the need to stay focussed and stand firm while we wait for his return to make things right. Production is top notch too. 4/5