Waiting… No one really likes to do it, and yet it is one of those necessary things in life that we all encounter, and usually several times a day. Now add an actual “waiting room” on top of the waiting; whether at a doctor’s office, the DMV or any other venue where you’re cooped up with a whole bunch of other unknowns in one room, and that is straight misery. Yet, “The Waiting Room” is the name of Reach Records veteran, Trip Lee’s new mixtape that will drop on December 9th, just in time for the holidays. The title of the mix tape alone, should have you a bit intrigued. Albeit this family man, artist, pastor and author knows a thing or two about having to wait, and on his new musical offering, he’s telling you all about it.
Now while this is a review for Trip’s new mix tape, I must admit; I have a confession. Though I’ve been a fan of Reach Records for years, attended many concerts featuring Trip Lee, listened to several of his tracks over the years, heard him speak, watched him in interviews and even interviewed him myself; I’ve never bought or owned an entire project of his. Insert, “Gasp” here; I know. For those reading, who are true Reach Records fans, and love what they bring to the table, you know Trip Lee is one of the staples of the label- a flagship. And while I’ve bought several albums from other artists on the label, I was just never moved to get one of his. No this is not a diss and no shade; cause I truly like him as a person and think he has great music…it just never happened. And if you’re thinking it’s an epic fail on my part- to start off a music review like this, just remember, “Thou shall not judge”! I kid, I kid… So why even mention it? Because nothing really grabbed me from Trip Lee… until now, until this mix tape. It’s classic!
It’s been two years since his album, “Rise,” boasting it’s hit single “Sweet Victory,” among others, but two years removed and Trip’s got a lot more to say. There is something about his delivery on “The Waiting Room” that is both raw, real and relatable; yet collected. He’s settled and yet still reaching; and it’s seeping out in this mixtape on every track. Plus, the production is crazy, without doing too much, that takes you away from his flow and his message. You can thank some of Reach’s hit producers like GAWVI, Alex Medina and Dirty Rice, for that.
From the first single on the project, “Clouds,” were he sounds hopeful and energized on a fly geisha-style beat to the last single “Longer,” where he yearns to know how much more his physical ailment will hold on; like the thorn in his side- it’s solid. This mix tape is full of real concepts you can grasp and understand, as you bob your head to each beat.
His second single to be released, “Billion Years,” is clever as it speaks of the joys we’ll be experiencing in a billion years when the world, as we know it, has all passed away. It’s reminiscent of “Sweet Victory” in the pop-style chorus sung by Taylor Hill,” but has a beat that grabs you harder. Then there is “IDK,” that reminds you that we all have those moments when we’re screaming at God like, “Where are you? Don’t you see me going through it?” “Still Unashamed,”‘ featuring his great friend and label mate, Tedashii, has a sick spin on The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir classic, “I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel.” They go hard on a beat you don’t see coming at first, and let fans and foes know that ain’t nothing changed in their dedication to the Gospel, but the number of years they been at it.
The GAWVI produced track, “Too Cold,” was the first single released and the beat is icy! It is a powerful, and somewhat militant beat, that has Trip flowing like he’s ready for war. One single, “Lord Have Mercy,” where he flows over a somewhat cryptic beat, allows him to speak to some of the injustices we’ve seen on the news as of late, with lyrics like: “He made me a Black Man/ With all black clothes/ black coffee, blacking out on all my flows/ But why is black a problem here for all my Bros/ And why they trying to put a tag on all our toes.”
Recently in an interview on BET’s, “Lift Every Voice,” Trip Lee shared with Fonzworth Bentley (Derek Watkins) how Reach Records collectively strived to make music that was so good that people didn’t care that it was more Christ centered, they could just appreciate that it was good music- and in turn get a message. Well Bro, you’ve accomplished just that with this one. The “Waiting Room” is a great snap shot of what it’s like to be a Christ-filled man, in the world, who is trying to hold down his family, deal with his battle wounds and fight the good fight- all while remaining relevant. And while Trip couldn’t make me a Believer, ’cause well, I’ve been one for years… he did make me a bona-fide fan. And, I’ll be rooting on the sidelines for the success of “The Waiting Room”, for sure.
Writer- Shani Lodge of ShaniSpeaksNow, LLC.