Don Trip Interview
Before releasing the viral hit "Letter To My Son," Memphis, TN rapper Don Trip was the typical M-Town emcee with the same dream as Terrance Howard's character in the 2005 Memphis-based film Hustle & Flow.
1 million+ Youtube views later, Don Trip is either a name you've heard or a name to know.
Check out our interview with the Tennessee rap newcomer, where he explains how he went from uploading sessions to Youtube to working with Cool & Dre to signing a deal with Interscope.
Hip-Hop Wired: You've been grinding for awhile, but it seems as if people have been catching on to you more over the last few months. Why do you think people are checking for you now more than ever?
Don Trip: I look at it like it's the snowball effect, where it starts off small and gets bigger. When people check it out now, they tend to wanna go backwards and see my previous work. So I think that's what makes people fans of my music, once they go back and see, like you said, I've been doing it.
Hip-Hop Wired: Memphis has a long history in music. A lot of rappers came before you, from Three Six Mafia to Yo Gotti. What kind of influence has the city of Memphis and the rap scene there had on your music?
Don Trip: Of course Memphis is my music. I don't really know what goes on in other places. I know every hood is the same pretty much. But other than that, I don't know what goes on outside my hood. My music is Memphis and Memphis is my music.
As far as the music scene in Memphis, it pretty much taught me that I had to create my own lane. Like you said, you can't name but a handful of people that made it out of Memphis.
So, with that alone, it shows you that it's not as easy as it seems. Atlanta had its time, Houston had its time. So you know with cities poppin' off like that, every artist in Memphis felt like it was going to be our turn whenever somebody [from Memphis] breaks.
I always looked at it like, when it's my time, it's my time. I don't look at it like, when it's my time it's the city's time, or vice versa. It just happened to workout for me.
Hip-Hop Wired: You put a lot of emotion and passion in your music. Why do you choose to be so personal in a lot of your music, when a lot of other rappers are not going in that direction?
Don Trip: Actually, I've always been personal. Music is my form of ventilation. It's another form of a poem or therapy. So I always used it like that.
It just so happened that an emotional song, was the most popular song, so people started looking forward to more emotional music, which I feel like that's why people end up being fans. When you go back and see that I've always been passionate with the music.
Hip-Hop Wired: One song in particular, “Letter To My Son” is that most popular song. Can you explain why you choose to put that situation on record, and the feedback you've been getting from the record?
Don Trip: To be honest, the way I record, the beat pretty much dictates the way I go with it. It's hard to explain…it sounds crazy if you're not into music. But the way it works, when I heard that beat, it just so happened to put me in that zone.
That's what I was going through, so it just worked out, it just helped. And when I went and recorded it, at that time, everything I was recording I was putting on Youtube.
And when it came to that record, I feel like if I held it back, then who would I be? So I went ahead and released it. You know, I was getting a lot of attention on Youtube, but I wasn't getting as much attention as I am now.
That pretty much opened the gate. And me not holding it back, pretty much got me in the door.
Don Trip - "Letter To My Son" [Video]
Hip-Hop Wired: The video has over a million views on Youtube. Are you surprised by the number of views it received on Youtube?
Don Trip: I'm still surprised now. I'm surprised that it touched so many people. With it being a usual problem, you see so many people go through and going through what I'm going through, and it's never been spoke on.
So, me seeing that and seeing that I pretty much…I don't wanna be quoted as saying I'm the voice of the struggling men, but it kinda seems that way. It kinda seems like me speaking up, kinda lifted up a lot of men going through the same situation.
Hip-Hop Wired: So you're signed to Interscope through Cool & Dre's Epidemic Records. How did you hook up with them and get your deal?
Don Trip: I connected with Cool & Dre through First Family, that's Frank Lopez. Frank took a trip down [to Memphis] and met with my DJ, and my DJ introduced me to Frank. And Frank fell in love with the “Letter To My Son” record.
And from there he felt like he needed to spearhead something. So he went to Cool & Dre, and sat down and worked it out. Shortly after that, Interscope stepped in the picture, and we've been moving forward ever since.
Hip-Hop Wired: What's it like working with Cool & Dre?
Don Trip: It was actually more comfortable than I assumed it would be. I like to make music that has feeling to it, and they pretty much were the best bet, working with them when it came to working with producers, because that's what they make.
They make the beats that got life it in already. So it kinda just worked out.
Hip-Hop Wired: You just put out a mixtape with Starlito, who's another artist from Tennessee and he's with Cash Money. How do you hook up with him?
Don Trip: I met him on the road with Yo Gotti. Ever since we met, we pretty much had a bond. And we have a friendship outside of recording.
So with both of us being in love with music as much as we are, it just made sense. So we sat down and put the project together.
It took like three sessions, and after that it jumped all the way off. Right now it's still bubbling. We're getting ready to release a couple more videos for it too. But it made sense, so we ran with it.
Hip-Hop Wired: You're planning to release a couple more mixtapes this year, right?
Don Trip: The way I am, I believe in quality, then quantity…normally people just pick one, quality or quantity, I believe in both. So that's why I keep releasing no matter what.
I'm releasing a project called I ♥ Strippers. That's pretty much a female based project. Every record on there is for women only.
And on the same day that I drop that, I'm dropping Help Is On The Way, which is what you'd expect from Don Trip. So it's like a his and hers. I'm dropping those this month.
Don Trip & Starlito - "Life" [Video]
Hip-Hop Wired: After the mixtapes, what is the planning going forward? Are you working on an your Interscope album?
Don Trip: I'm always working on an album, even when I'm working on mixtapes. With the way it works, I just record music.
And when it's time for me to release a mixtape, I go in and I select what I feel like goes in the realm of the picture I'm trying to paint with that particular mixtape.
I've been recording for an album since last September. We've got over 50 songs right now. So when it's time to pick the album, we're pretty much done.
And I don't put album songs on mixtapes, so it's 50 songs that have never been heard. I don't like to drop songs twice. I like to keep it fresh.
Hip-Hop Wired: Looking forward in your career, what do you want people to take from you and say about your music?
Don Trip: That he was him. That no matter what I was me all the way through.
No matter what happens, no matter how much money I got put in it, I'm still me. No matter whose record I'm on, no matter how many records I got, whether the records sell or not, I'm still me.