“The Waiting Room” is Trip Lee’s sixth project. As mentioned in this article from Fuse, this is not a proper album per se, hence it being deemed a ‘mixtape.’ Such a term is one of ambiguity, as it can refer to an album with blending and scratching, where the songs flow together, while it can also refer to an album with non-cleared samples and stolen beats from bourgeois producers or beat makers. Trip offers something that differs from both definitions, and I think he does so successfully.
The mixtape kicks off with “Clouds,” an inspiring track with sprinkle hats, infectious synths, and confident rhymes. !llmind, Dirty Rice, and GAWVI bring top notch production on this one. As well, the lyrical dynamics are intriguing here, switching from somber rhymes in the verses such as “I had a dream, but it was deferred / I caught a beating, I’m eating the dirt” to more positive remarks in the pre-hook: “I’m feeling like I’m on fire / I love that feeling when you walking in your calling.” I thought this was a great beginning song and that it’s one of Trip’s best songs all around.
Next in cue is the single “Too Cold.” If you’re anything like me, you usually find the singles to be the mediocre tracks on the album, and I’m afraid to say that this was the case here. Though its blazing trap beat is fun, I found GAWVI’s background vocals to be a little harsh on the ears; particularly, when he shouts “too cold,” which reminds me of a Swedish(?) chocolate bar commercial I saw years ago where some dude is yelling from a mountain’s precipice. I also found the lyrics to be confusing, especially the materialistic wording of the pre-hook (though I highly doubt that such lyrics are intended to be taken literally). The chinchilla reference in verse two also caught me off guard, but apparently ‘Chinchilla’ also refers to a brand of jackets and not merely rodents (how didn’t I know this when I’m a Canadian?).
The third track “Lord Have Mercy” follows in the trap footsteps of the previous song, making for a perfect occasion to enjoy some Sprite and purple Gatorade whilst sporting one’s favorite bucket hat. To be honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy this track either, for the most part. The pre-hook and hook were too repetitive for my liking, though the beat switch for the interlude and third verse was impressive, bringing my favorite song to the forefront: “IDK.”
Trip gets introspective on “IDK,” a song about the general problem of suffering. The intro is powerful, including a partial reading of Psalm 13 over a moody guitar. The verses continue this painful honesty, with lyrics like “If I was the Lord, wouldn’t be no pain / but you must be bored, or I must be insane / ain’t tryna say I’m wiser Lord / just surprised that you ain’t nicer Lord.” The song ends by finishing the reading of Psalm 13, a noteworthy artistic move.
Such introspection becomes magnified in “Longer,” where Trip shares his story on the difficulties of living with chronic fatigue syndrome, a topic he has been quite vocal about in past songs and interviews. The production on this song, courtesy of COBRA, is pretty eclectic with its lo-fi acoustic guitar, pop-oriented piano and drums, and 1960s wah wah electric guitar.
“The Waiting Room” is a worthy addition to Trip Lee’s discography, and I would dare say that it surpasses his last album, Rise. While it has a lot of the trap and southern sounds of his past work, the producers he commissioned for this mixtape bring some surprises, made evident on songs like “Still Unashamed,” “Money Up,” and “Longer.” The neutral colors of the tasteful mural on the cover also bring something new to the table, and both of these are a plus in my books. The concept of human life as a waiting room is a worthwhile idea to consider, and the quality of this project accentuates that importance – especially if one enjoys their hip-hop a little more radio friendly.
RIYL: Lecrae, Tedashii, GAWVI