Trip Lee

Trip Lee is Back to Christian Rap After Years of Pastoring [Interview]

The Christian rap world hadn’t really heard from Trip Lee in a long time…well, that’s over. The Reach Records O.G. has returned to music and he gave us two great tracks before heading into 2022.

The last time we spoke to Trip was in 2016. We had the chance to catch up with Trip Lee and find out why he’s back and what he’s been doing. There will be a part two that focuses on music next week.

Let’s just jump right in. The last time that we heard from you was The Waiting Room Mixtape in 2016. Then, you stepped away to be a full-time Pastor. What’s happened since then? 

The funny thing about The Waiting Room is with that one, I didn’t even need to step away. The only reason I called it that was it was meant to be like, “Here, let me get you something while you wait for the next record.” I was in a good place creatively. I wanted to put something out because I put something out ’06, ’08’, 2010, ’12, ’14, so I was like ’16 about the goal I need.

It ended up being a project that I was really proud of and I saw a lot of fruit from it. And I thought I was about to follow it up with another project. Of course, we make plans, they don’t always turn out that way.

Since then, I moved to Dallas. This is where I grew up. And so, that’s been cool to be back in my hometown and pastor here at the church where I met Jesus, and my mom’s still a member. My health is always up and down. My energy has kept me from being able to get the music to the finish line like I wanted to.

I’m in a new season now, where actually I’m not pastoring anymore. Just because of my health and consistency there. I’m back giving more attention to music. It’s an interesting place to be because music is something that I’ve never lost my desire to do.

Sometimes when I drop a random song or something, even Lecrae will be like, “Oh, how you keep popping up and still being good? The flow’s current.” I’m like, “What? You all forget, but I was like 6-years-old when I met you, so absolutely, I mean I still got it.”

But I’m excited to get to give more time to it because the creative drive hasn’t changed at all. And yeah, I’m excited about the music.

I know the truth, though. You say you’re stopping being a Pastor, but you mean vocationally. Because once you’re a Pastor, you never really stop being a Pastor.

Trip Lee

The same way with music, nothing changed. For me, nothing has changed in terms of my desire to love people, help people to grow, help people to know Jesus more. I love the church, I love the local church. It’s been important. I’ve dedicated so much of my life to it even before I was pastoring. That part of me hasn’t changed. I’m preaching at my church this Sunday, actually.

What was it like? Personally, as a Pastor, there’s just a daily grind of pastoring, working at a church, trying to meet people’s demands, being on call with life, and people relying on you for a lot of support, wisdom, prayer. There’s a lot of overextension of yourself. And so, for you specifically, you deal with fatigue. Can you talk a little bit about what that’s been like for you?

My health is the hardest part of every part of my life. You name a part of my life, work, my spiritual life, relationship with God, marriage, parenting, whatever, friendships. It’s the hardest part of every part of my life because it’s very hard to be consistent. It’s hard to plan well because my energy is so up and down and random. Doctors don’t understand my illness very well. Sometimes it’s some new thing that shows up in my blood. It is, it’s very unpredictable.

And so, that can certainly make it hard to pastor…When we’re pastoring, we want to be very reliable. We want to serve people. For me, pastoring is not just standing on the stage and saying true stuff. It is also being in people’s lives, welcoming people. It’s funerals, it’s weddings, it’s marriage counseling. It’s, “Let’s grab a coffee.”

So yeah, and it means a lot to me. Church means a lot to me. Pastoring does, and so it’s hard to not be able to be as consistent as I want to be.

I think in this season…it seems more faithful for me to give more of my time to music and continue to serve people creatively.

Do you find that the two worlds can meet in your artistry, when you’re around other artists, some of that Pastor side shows up? Do people rely on you in those ways? Or do you see those people as just friends, artists at Reach, or whoever you’re working with at the time?

It’s both. I don’t like when people like, “Oh, shut up. Sorry, Pastor.” You know what I’m saying? I don’t want people to like, “Oh, I’m on a record with a minister right now, not with my homey.” You know?

So yeah, so there’s that. But also, I think being a pastor looks most faithful when it is not like professionally pursued. I love people, I love the church, I love scripture, I love walking with people and I can serve other people in this way.

I try to live my life in a way where I am encouraging and walking alongside people. It’s helpful for me to help shepherd them, and teach and learn alongside and love people, even with just more peer relationships. When your homie has a particular strength, you lean into that.

I’ve got friends who have key insight into relational things. And it’s just my friend, it’s not my counselor. But I’m like, “He gives wise advice in this area.” So I’m like, “Hey, I know you think well on this thought. Any thoughts from you?”

It means more to me when people I’m close to respect me in those ways, than the people who don’t really know me that well.

I don’t want to present myself as anything I’m not. And I don’t want to only be encouraging the people who don’t know me well. You know what I’m saying?

Do you have any inklings of writing a book again?

Yeah, man. I love to write. I have a book that is extremely overdue. My publisher’s been very gracious. It’s about identity that I’m hoping to wrap up pretty soon. So we’ll see.

But I love writing. With music and books and preaching and stuff I do, the way a lot of this happened for me is I’ve been very impacted by those things. “If I can serve people the way I’ve been served by those things, I’d like the opportunity to do it.”

I’ve tried to learn from others and figure out how to do it well. And so, I love writing. I’m a reader of all kinds of stuff. I love words. I love communicating the truth. That feels like the people who love my music, that feels like the people who are my peers. And so, if I can do it well, I’m going to try. so yeah, I have a book project in the works, and hopefully, I can finish that up soon.

Speaking of Identity, was there anything in you that whenever you said you’re quitting Hip Hop and you’re just going to be a Pastor for a minute that said, “Man, my identity is so tied to what I was in Hip Hop, it’s really hard for me to wrap my head around this journey of life, this part of my life?”

Sure. I remember one time when I was on the staff of the church…I had to say, “No,” to a lot more stuff. There was a tour that I couldn’t do, everybody else was doing. I just remember that I was looking on my socials and was like, “Dang, this looks like a blast.”

But man, we all have our own struggles with our identity. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are. And so, we’ll be like, “Oh, I am this person who does these things, at these times, in this way.” Even if we know, “I’m not what I do.” It can still be a struggle. And so, for sure, and even with not being able to pastor in the seats, the same thing.

One thing that happens for me, the Lord has worked in me with having a chronic illness is, it’s just I want to hold this up with an open hand because everything feels like mercy from God. There’s nothing that’s like, “Oh, for sure. Absolutely.”

In James, when James says, “Oh, you saying, like tomorrow, I’m going to go to the city and do A, B, C.” He’s like, “You fool. Your life is a vapor. You don’t know if you’re going to be around tomorrow. Instead, you should say, If the Lord wills, I will go and do this or that.”

Trip Lee

And so, sometimes Christians will say, “Lord willing.” It’s a nice thing to tag on once I figured out what it means. Like, “Amen,” you just say it. But for me, that means something. “Lord willing,” is very real to me.

That’s not to say that my reality is that different from other people’s. We don’t know what’s going to happen. But because my weakness is in my face all the time, it’s clear to me, “Lord willing,” means for me is whenever I get an opportunity, what the Lord will allow me to do, I have just had to be very openhanded.

There’s been a lot of dreams that just haven’t been able to do because of my limitations, especially in the past several years.

“Here’s what I desire. Here’s what I’ll go after, and Lord, whatever You’ll do is what you’re going to do. If You allow me to do this, and I can be happy and holy and enjoy my life and be a good dad and husband, and love people, like whatever You’ll give me Lord, I’ll take, and I just want to try and be as faithful as I can.”

That’s the perspective that I want to have and that I have more of and that I want more of because I don’t want to make it seem like I’m always just like, “Yes, Lord. This is great. Trust You. Who cares if this is hard.” That’s not how it is.

I’ve got weeks where I’m better at seeing things how they are, and weeks where I struggle more with just being discouraged if everything doesn’t go right. It’s something in the way of what God wants me to do as opposed to the way that God is getting me there.

That’s good. Thank you for that perspective! Worship starts from sacrifice and surrender. So for you to arrive at that, at the end there, where you just like, “I’m just openhanded, or I’m trying in the best way I know how” that’s a good perspective to have and for people to see. Because like I said, I feel like a lot of times, people can get caught up in their identity being what they do, rather than just being in Christ.

That’s right, and the most important thing about who we are is not something that can be taken away. We are made in the image of God. That’s where our worth and value are, and literally, nothing can change that or take that away.

It’s really the most important thing about you, you’re made in the image of God, you have worth and value in that. There’s literally nothing that can change that. If we know Jesus, and we’re purchased by the King and his family, no one can snatch us.

Part 2 with Trip Lee will discuss the music that is out along with the music he has coming. He provides insight into his musical process over this last year as well.

Luc DiMarzio

Written by Luc DiMarzio

Luc has been a fan of CHH for 30 years, and has been writing about it for just over 4 years. He has a huge passion for amplifying the underground of CHH.

When he's not bumpin hip-hop, you can catch him leading worship at his local church, rooting on the Chicago Cubs with his wife, or swimming with his kids.

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