Emerging Ohio MC Trippie Redd is not lacking for confidence.
"There is no time where I feel like I will fall off," says the hot young rapper. Only last year, he released his first batch of songs on SoundCloud and now, thanks to his breakout A Love Letter to You mixtape and "Fuck Love," a Top 40 single with controversial rapper XXXTentacion, he finds himself fielding calls from Kanye West, Drake and 21 Savage. "I feel like I will always last," declares the 18-year-old born Michael White IV. "I will always do something new."
If Trippie seems overly optimistic, it's because the slurry, emo-heavy hip-hop he makes is one of the hottest sounds dominating the pop charts. Similar-minded artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti and Lil Pump have seen their star rise alongside him, but in Trippie's mind only he and XXX have mastered the craft: "I've perfected this style. I'm not necessarily even a part of all the new-wave shit. Me and X, I feel like we're in our own little category. We're the only artists I know who are phat that are on something else. We're timeless."
Signed to the label owned by the son of UMG Chairman Lucian Grainge, Trippie points to the success of "Love Scars" – his breakout track that's been streamed more than 17 million times on Spotify and more than 12 million times on YouTube – as the turning point in his young career. "I really felt it after that," he says of a burgeoning fame that's included being championed by Lil Wayne, Lil Uzi Vert and Chris Brown. "To just be in the situation I'm in now and taking myself from depression to happiness, it's all a blessing."
For the Canton, Ohio native, music was long an emotional outlet. Born to a single-mother and an incarcerated father, Trippie's older brother, who performed as Dirty Redd, turned him onto hip-hop before dying in a car accident in 2014. Trippie first recorded alternative rock music before turning his attention to hip-hop, but no matter the genre Redd, who cites everyone from Jay-Z and Beyoncé to Nirvana and Kiss as inspiration, says music was always his coping mechanism "I was depressed. I didn't have nobody," he says of the years following his brother's death. "I was on my own type shit. Music took me from a real dark place to a real bright one."
Not that everyone in his life believed he could make a career of music. "My mom would be saying shit like, "You can't always think about music. You gotta get a regular job." But I didn't want to get no regular job," Trippie says. "I worked at Little Caesar's for about two days, bro. I was out. That's the only job I've ever had." After graduating high school, he moved to Atlanta where he struck up a friendship with the rapper Lil Wop and networked with the city's hip-hop elite. White recorded three projects there – Awakening My Inner Beast, Beast Mode and Rock the World Trippie – before relocating to Los Angeles and signing with Grainge.
Despite logging countless hours in the studio, Trippie is the first to admit his come-up has happened quickly. "It's still crazy," he says. "It's wild. I knew it was going to happen. I just didn't know it was going to happen so soon. I done elevated. I've made hella fans. I got a big-ass family now. All around it only took like a year of dedication and motivation."
With red-tinged dreadlocks, a mouth full of gold teeth and several face tattoos, Trippie says people are often quick to judge him based solely on his looks, but ultimately he believes his music-industry accomplishments will be the ultimate decider. "You can't say shit about me until I die," he says. "If I die and I gotta couple Grammys on me, more than a couple hits on me, I got some plaques and I got billboards still up and I done touched a lot of people's souls and I'm viral, once that happen then you can judge all you want. I don't give a fuck. I'm dead. I'm gone. I did what I did."