Don Trip: ‘Help Is On the Way’ (Interview)

    The Memphis native known as Don Trip has been gaining popularity with every mixtape he’s released – 14 and counting. Signed to Cool & Dre’s Epidemic/First Family Imprint under Interscope, Don Trip has received co-signs from some of hip-hop’s most sought after producers including David Banner, DJ Khalil and DJ Toomp, among others. With a debut album coming out next year and a Gangsta Grillz mixtape being released on Halloween, Don Trip is making sure that he remains on everyone’s radar.

    What’s your story?

    I wouldn’t say my story is more terrible than nobody else’s story. If you’re coming from the hood then we all pretty much grew up the same way. Single parent, my mom had like three jobs, all I had was me and my brother, you know, we had to take care of my little sister. All we had was us. Family is the most important thing to me next to money. I don’t make music to please people, I make music that I feel. If you like it then you like, if you don’t then you don’t. But I’m not making it to cater to nobody. I feel like if I start to do that then I’m not being me no more.

    How do you define yourself as an artist?

    I’m gonna say the most honest artist ever. I don’t hold no punches, if I feel like saying it I’ma say it. Again, I don’t care how nobody look at it, I don’t care how they feel about it. When I make music I’m doing it for me. No matter what the subject matter is, it’s a record that I wanted to do. I’m making my music the way I want to make it so I don’t make excuses for nothing. If ever there’s a record that failed, it’ll be because of me, because it’s a record that I did. If I cooperated to do it it’s because I wanted to do it. If I don’t wanna do it I won’t do it.

    What artists have influenced you?

    A lot of artists actually, I would say my earliest influence is Kris Kross cause when I was a child to see that kids could do it made me wanna pursue it more. But Tupac, Jay-Z, NWA, Jadakiss, Outkast and Cee-Lo actually. Other than that, pretty much everything. I learn from everybody, even the rappers that failed taught me more than the rappers you seen, so I learn from everybody.

    Is there anybody that you would like to collab with that you haven’t?

    Andre 3000.

    In a market that’s so saturated with new artists and music, how did you separate yourself from the rest when you were coming up?

    I feel like honesty is what done it. I feel like me telling you what every other person is afraid to say to you. I feel like that’s what made people say “Hey, you know, he might be onto something.” I feel like freedom of speech is probably about the only thing we actually do got for free. So I feel like me taking that and going as far as I can go, I feel like that’s what make people feel like I’m different from everybody else that’s in this music industry. I don’t have a gimmick, I’m not saying crazy stuff and I’m not trying to preach to you. I tell it exactly how it is.

    I heard that you had several offers on the table, why did you decide to go with Cool & Dre?

    It just worked, I guess the chemistry worked out. All the offers that I had on the table… not too many people wanted to actually sit down, I’m an ‘in-person’ kind of person. I don’t really like the phone, I don’t really like the internet, I would rather whatever kind of meet and greet, or whatever we discuss I would rather it be in person. That’s partially because I’m a bit paranoid and partially because of where I come from doing it I would prefer to meet in person. Cool & Dre were one of the few people that was ok with actually sitting down and discussing, or sitting down and actually working.

    What’s the meaning behind the title of your upcoming debut album Help Is On the Way?

    Actually, it’s got a double meaning. The meaning for hip-hop and for hip-hop fans is if you feel like the game’s missing real, passionate music then help is on the way. And for my family we got an avenue out of the fast money, so to speak, for everybody in my family that’s still trying to get it together help is on the way.

    What can we expect from it that’s different from your mixtapes?

    I feel like the album will be a full picture, well-rounded, more like a movie. I look at my mixtapes like TV episodes, you gotta watch the season to get a full picture if you are listening to the mixtapes. But if you go and grab the album it’s the whole movie.

    You’ve already worked with some huge producers, but what producers are you going to have on the album?

    We got Boi-1da, T-Minus, David Banner, of course Cool & Dre. We got a new producer coming up under Cool & Dre named Young Ladd that got a record on Tha Carter IV. Other than them, it’s a couple more producers, I’m terrible with remembering the track listing because it’s like 51 records and we ain’t picked the final sheet for the album yet.

    So do you have a lead single yet?

    “Letter to My Son” actually, it’s been revised, we got Cee-Lo on that and it’s got a hook. That’s the way everybody wanted it.

    What’s your favorite song that you’ve done?

    My favorite song, wow… “Feelin Like Mike.”

    And why?

    I feel like that was one of the records – in that record Mike Tyson was an idol to me and to a lot of people that I knew. When he started going downhill, a lot of people just stepped away. Same way with when an elder person or a sports star going downhill. But I feel like everybody wanted to be like Mike. And of course everybody wanted to be like Michael Jordan but when I was growing up I didn’t wanna be Michael Jordan, I wanted to be Mike Tyson. I feel like we came from the same background, I feel like we shared the same fight. I actually feel like I could sit down and I could rock with Mike Tyson without him trippin out. I don’t think he crazy, I think he’s just misunderstood. I feel the same way in certain aspects, you know, I feel like – I feel like Mike.

    What do you want your legacy in the rap game to be?

    When it’s all over, I don’t know when it’s over but hopefully I get the longest run I can get, but when it is I want you to be able to listen to my music and feel like you know who I am. Cause all my music is honest. I ain’t taking no short cuts , if the long road is the hardest road then so be it. I’ll take it like it go. But I would like for people to see that, like I said, family is the most important thing to me so no matter what I’ma still be me.

    What do you want people to come away with when they listen to your music?

    I want you to feel like you’re not the only person goin through it, whatever it is. If you’re excited about something I want you to feel like it’s another person that share that same emotion. If you sad about something I want you to know that  somebody’s been through that. That’s why I like to speak on things that most people wouldn’t mention. Not to go back to “Letter to My Son”, but like for that record, it’s not a new story, it’s just untold. So I feel like my records do that, working sort of like a musical counselor, like instead of you going to a counselor, it’s through my music. Like if you had to feed your younger siblings and you wasn’t but 12 or 13, you know, I been through it. You may feel like you was the only one that went through it, you might feel alone in that battle, so I wanna let you know that you’re not the only one that went through it.