The last time Dallas saw Trippie Redd, the raging teenager was bouncing across the American Airlines Center’s stage, opening for Travis Scott’s Astroworld Tour. The 19-year-old was in and out in less than 15 minutes and had his mic cut off in the process. He eventually dropped off the tour because of production issues — a fitting conclusion for a young artist who refuses to conform.
Now on his own terms, Redd returned to Dallas on Wednesday night at the House of Blues to a packed house. The tour’s namesake comes from his debut album, Life’s A Trip, which was a slight departure from the raw, visceral material on his breakout mixtape A Love Letter To You and tracks that made him an instant star like “Dark Knight Dummo” and “Fuck Love.” Now fully into his experimentation phase, a set from Redd runs the gamut of pure emo rap tunes like “Love Scars,” polished, radio-ready tunes like “Wish” and “Toxic Waste” all the way to alt-pop-inspired grunge. Sonically, Trippie Redd lives in his own space and values time on his own terms.
After taking the stage much later than anticipated, Redd wasted no time jumping into his most well-known tracks, which is a welcome side effect to the high-volume of music produced by artists who are extremely successful on platforms like Spotify and SoundCloud. Gone are the days when crowds waited for the hit to be played at the end of a drawn-out set. Since all artists need is a few songs to hit and go viral, they throw up as many as they can and see what sticks.
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Since Trippie Redd was launched into hip-hop stardom in mid-2017, he has four releases under his belt along with countless features, which makes it hard to offer up a disappointing set with so much to choose from. Still, it’s glaringly obvious by the amount of phones raised in the air and the semblance of mosh pits that “Love Scars,” “Dark Knight Dummo” and “Fuck Love” are far and away still his greatest hits, with “Topanga” gaining steam as his label works to make it a mainstream hit.
Trippie Redd is immensely talented and has a bright future if he wants it; it’s just that seeing him live doesn’t offer much. He’s more than capable of rapping, as he’s proved time and time again on his releases, but in a live setting he’s more concerned with raging. Even when he’s afforded the opportunity to lay into his own wailing screams, he seems to hold back. It seems like the biggest reward for attending his live shows is just witnessing an internet figure in person. Redd’s online behavior, mostly through Instagram Live, is regularly headline-inspiring whether he’s getting into feuds with contemporaries, showing off millions of dollars worth of jewelry or trying to convince his audience he’s a clone.
These young internet star rappers don’t live like us commoners. They have no interest in it and that’s half of why we find it so fascinating and why they continuously raise the stakes to stand out. From the face tattoos to the hair to the fashion choices, Trippie Redd is not like you and me, and that’s the only way he would have it. Although it’s commonly stated that he’s 19, Redd always skirts talk of his age in interviews and is hard-pressed to recant much of his past before music, mostly explaining it was dark and music brought him out of it. So there’s a little insight into why he’s diverged so far from his past life and carried on with an extreme persona.
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Trippie Redd seems to exist on the fringe of all things — stuck on the extremes. Love is a recurring theme in nearly all his work, or it's consumed by hate and violence. Lately he spouts positivity in interviews and on social media, displaying a passion and value for life, but he finds himself making headlines for violent acts and ruminating suicide regularly throughout tracks. That paradox is a common theme lingering in the air of the emo-rap/SoundCloud era that Redd came up in alongside other polarizing figures like XXXTentacion, Kodak Black, Lil Peep and countless others. In other words, it’s hard navigating yourself toward manhood and maturation without a guide and all these emotions in the way, but music helps, and he’s found allies in the process.
Since the passing of his friend XXXTentacion, Redd regularly explains that he’s done with negativity and focuses on positives. He sees the transformative path XXXTentacion was on before his death and refuses to let the opportunity for himself pass. Even if performing in a live setting isn’t his greatest strength, he still has so much to offer to his huge following who feel stuck in their own extremes.
One performance from a gang of opening acts that cannot go overlooked came from New Jersey’s Coi Leray, who is nothing but a burgeoning star. On a night when her male contemporaries relied on hype men and were unsuccessful in turning over a crowd solely interested in Trippie Redd, Leray commanded the room’s attention with a mix of old-school rap bravado and overt sex appeal.
The range Leray offered up in her short set was stunning, but most important, she rapped her ass off — something sadly missing from most rap sets these days when backing tracks do most of the heavy lifting. Even though her debut mixtape was released only last year, she possesses the stage presence of a veteran and knows how to work a crowd. Near the end of her set, Dorrough’s “Ice Cream Paint Job” rang out before getting mixed into the intro of Leray’s “Huddy,” which features a strikingly similar rhyming pattern. Keep an eye on Coi Leray — she knows what she’s doing.