I’ve got to admit that Trip Lee’s last album, Between Two Worlds, didn’t do anything for me. He came off as more Mos Def than Jay-Z, more squeaky than strong. But I hadn’t gotten any good rap music lately, and agreed to give The Good Life a spin. Thank goodness! A masterful album of collaborations, beats, and lyrics, it will speak to you on multiple levels while your head is bobbing along out of control.
The title track sets the bar high, mixing J.R. and Sho Baraka into the mix, and bringing a reminder that what the world sets as the expectation for a “good life” is nothing short of pointless, broken, and ultimately, one that can’t be fulfilled. Instead, God’s power and hope for us is exceedingly greater, as we’ll hear again in the bouncy “Robot,” which is catchy like “The Good Life,” but is ultimately a little annoying. [Every album needs one song like that, right?]
But then “I’m Good” united the king of Christian rap, Lecrae, with the crowned prince, Lee, and we have a roaring rap/rock of that proposes the power of the living water, throws down quick beats, and presents the unmitigated joy of these guys in the love of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. After the Dustin Kensrue bit at the beginning of “War,” I wondered who’d passed out the helium, but it quickly slides into a “life and death battle” that channels Trip Lee’s inner Tobymac (or something).
“Fallin” highlights J Paul, and the rest of the album is a collaborative outing for the most part. Andy Mineo highlights on “One Sixteen” and “Love On Display,” Jimmy Needham shows up on “Take Me There,” and V Rose, Jai, and Leah Smith end up mixed in, too.
“iLove” is thought-provoking about the power of things we should be in love with, and the things which distract us from love (”Heart Problem” goes there, too). Lee earns “crowned prince” status for his exegesis of Scripture and life, as he mixes a blend of street preaching and body-moving music that will entice any number of rap-loving listeners. Given my propensity to quote rappers in sermons, I’m thankful for Lee’s inclusion in my lyrical repertoire.
Surprise hit? “Take Me There”
Best rap? “I’m Good” or “Heart Problem”