Review | Trippie Redd - ! (Exclamation Mark)
On Trippie Redd’s official sophomore album titled ! (Exclamation Mark), he continues to experiment with his sound as he discusses overused themes of self-love, envy and heartbreak. With elements of Rock, Trap and Electronic music sprinkled throughout, it’s still unclear whether the 20-year-old's musical direction is for better or for worse.
Since the Ohio rapper grew to prominence in early 2017, Trippie has released the A Love Letter To You trilogy and debut album LIFE’S A TRIP, among an impressive list of feature work with artists including Diplo, Lil Yachty, Wiz Khalifa and the late XXXTentacion. While his discography has been a range of hit or misses, it’s no denying that Trippie Redd is one of the most unique voices in the Emo Rap trend.
The album starts with the Diplo-produced title track, where Trippie deals with a damaging relationship, a common theme in his music. We’ve seen the two work on Diplo’s California EP and Trippie’s LIFE’S A TRIP, and their chemistry continues to ooze throughout the authentic EDM track, proving just how successful a Diplo and Trippie Redd EP could be. On first listen of “Snake Skin”, it came across as a poor suicide prevention track but really it’s more discussing the envy Trippie believes people feel towards him. While the chorus still holds a certain level of corny, the second verse is playful and works quite nicely with the dreamy guitar and piano instrumental. Unfortunately, the chorus of “Be Yourself” is similarly corny, and though it’s certainly an on-brand song for Trippie and features some entertaining verses, it’s definitely a safer and almost boring song. One of the only times this type of chorus message really triumphs is in the Murda Beatz produced “Keep Your Head Up”.
Likewise, his commendable heavy lifting works great on tracks like “Under Enemy Arms” and the unfortunately short “Lil Wayne”, but features like Coi Leray and Diplo bring out the best of him. Playboi Carti’s feature is nothing special on “They Afraid of You”, Lil Duke and Lil Baby deliver on “Mac 10”, though the song still doesn’t amount to much and The Game’s voice on “Immortal” is refreshing, but definitely a missed opportunity to have Trippie deliver a grittier, less melodic verse. Maybe it was the excitement of hearing Coi Leray for the first time but “Everything Boz” was an enjoyable and braggadocious cut and puts her on the list of names to check out.
The influence of rock can be found in “RIOT” and “Throw It Away”, although none of it is really effective. Trippie can successfully include a rock element in his work, evident through his earlier discography and his more recent feature on Machine Gun Kelly’s “Candy”, but at this stage in his career, it would be more interesting to see Trippie either refine his own style brought about through his unique voice or venture further into the electronic scene as he has before with Diplo and Alison Wonderland. To go even further, it would be exciting to see Trippie Redd widen the themes in his music, or at least explore different aspects of them. A large reason why his songs ‘miss’ is that they’ve been executed better on his more successful tracks.
Trippie Redd has announced a deluxe version of ! (Exclamation Mark) to be coming in the near future, but it would have been nicer to experience the album in one release, and it probably would have allowed for the songs to have been fleshed out more. His punchy verses and vocally experimental choruses provide promising high moments, although for most of the album he seems to resort to a boring and lacklustre mood that doesn’t let him stand out like he truly can.
Best song: Snake Skin, Lil Wayne
Worst song: Signing Off