Rappers throughout the years have tried to encapsulate in their lyrics what they think it means to live “the good life” but Trip has a new view
As he listened to the uncut lines of Kanye West and 2Pac, young William Lee Barefield III, better known as Trip Lee, dreamed of one day being a rapper.
When first pursuing his dream, the 27-year-old says he mimicked them: "I rapped about random stuff...how hot I was, how many girls I could pull."
In his 2012 album The Good Life, however, and his book of the same name, he sings a very different tune: "Beautiful life inside, Living, moving, breathing, so let hope arise."
"I think if you were to ask me when I was much younger what my definition of the good life was, I think it would have sounded a lot like what most people would say: a life with all the things you want and everything you think you need to make you happy, and these sorts of things," Trip says.
But an event at age 14 saw a dramatic change in both his lyrics and view of life. That was the year he gave his life to Jesus Christ.
"God knew what He was doing when He gave beautiful, beautiful life," he raps.
"I know when I was growing up, a lot of the [songs] I was listening to; it was a worldview that was not helpful.
"The world even sold me a false idea of what the good life was, and I wish that people had helped me to think better about how to interact with that worldview.
"I think the good life is living by faith in a good God. And when we follow God, then He's going to lead us to the good life."
Trip has realized throughout his career that a relationship with His Creator is far more precious than any amount of fame, wealth and success he could ever have hoped to achieve.
"There are times, of course, you'll look at some of my peers doing mainstream hip hop, and you see the kind of success they get, the kind of perks that come with being a bigger artist, and you think: Man, if my content was a little bit more 'swallow-able' for the mainstream then maybe I would have some of these things," he admits.
"[But] the reason I wanted to rap is I wanted to do beautiful art that glorifies God and I wanted to help people understand big truth. And that's been my goal. At the end of the day all that other stuff won't matter very much."
Now, living in Washington DC with his wife and finishing theological studies while working on his fourth album, Trip is living the best life he could possibly dream of.
"God has been more than gracious to me," he says. "I didn't expect to get to travel the world. I didn't expect to be on this kind of stage. I didn't expect any of this. So I'm very grateful, He's been very gracious to me." •