The current roster of popular hip-hop/rap artists includes Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj. Even with worldwide success the controversy over rap music continues as many believe hip-hop/rap music glorifies violence, sex, money, profanity and creates stereotypes in the black community and with young and impressionable listeners.
But 24-year old hip-hop artist William Lee Barefield III, better known as "Trip Lee," believes this generation continues to be deceived and misled in the belief that happiness can be obtained at any cost and these pursuits leave many disillusioned with temporary satisfaction.
What separates Trip from his peers that promote a current worldview of materialism or self-centered pursuits in the hip-hop/rap community is his mature, faith-centered perspective on life. At 14 years-old, Trip changed his focus in music from fortune, fame and women to pursing lasting freedom by living out the Christian faith and applying God's Word to his life.
Trip first gained recognition after appearing on the Reach Records website at the age of 16 and soon after he released several albums that received industry recognition on the Billboard charts and a Stellar Award for Best Gospel Rap/Hip-Hop Album. Even with these career accolades, Trip remains humbled and focused on pursuing the blessings of life from a "good God."
In his debut book, The Good Life (Moody Publishers), based on his recent music CD of the same name, Trip offers a fresh perspective reminding that our life does not belong to us and we are called to experience everlasting freedom and joy through the will of our Creator.
"The good life doesn't mean we get everything we want. It's not about the wealth, climbing the corporate ladder or a life free from responsibility. It doesn't mean we live whatever way feels best for us," says Trip. "The good life is living how we were created to live, in sync with God and embracing all that He has to offer us in Christ."
In The Good Life, Trip also shares his thoughts on a diversity of topics including God's good will for all people, pursuing the good life, what should be expected from the good life, the role of the Church and the Word in the good life, and eternal treasures for those seeking the call of our faith. Trip also shares his perspective on relevant subjects that include:
- Breaking free from worldview lies that have created "robots" and distracted us from attaining the good life
- The influence of hip-hop music and it's lyrics on young people
- Revealing the positive messages in Christian hip-hop/rap music
- The role of the Church and God's Word in pursuing the good life
Trip believes that the hip-hop music is not the source of today's youth and their fascination with materialism. "American culture is dripping with staunch materialism. Rappers are just bolder and more in your face about it but the rest of our culture pushes the same message in a more subtle fashion," says Trip. "I use to listen to the world and the flesh and did what I was told- like I was their robot, but now I've been broken free to follow after my Creator and live in light of what's truly part of the good life."
William Lee Barefield III, better known as Trip Lee, is a Christian hip-hop artist under the Reach Records label. Trip Lee's music has topped Billboard charts, the iTunes chart, and he has received Dove nominations and a Stellar Award. His Christ-centered and God-exalting music has reached thousands with the good news of Jesus. Trip Lee now resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife and son. Trip's unending desire is to proclaim the grace and beauty of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen. Additional information is available at www.bragonmylord.com and twitter.com/triplee116.
Notable Quotes from The Good Life
Left to our sinful imaginations, human beings will not come up with the right way to live. We'll spend our energies chasing fantasies and masquerades, blinded to the true realities of life. Gods way is not only right, its better. Most of us live under the illusion that our lives belong to us, and us alone. But the truth is, you belong to your Creator. He made us, therefore we're His. This doesn't mean we're just objects, lacking any kind of freedom. But it does mean that rejecting God's leadership is robbing Him of something that is rightfully His. (The Good Teacher, pg. 31)
Hip-hop is always good for a heavy dose of hedonism. The images slowly seduce us and draw us in. I know this picture I was chasing after: religious All- about-me-ism. Do what God says and things will start going your way. This view basically uses God instead of believing God. It says to attach yourself to Him in hopes of receiving the things that the other lies promise: pleasure and success. He didn't promise everything would go your way, and He didn't promise that all those blessings would come all at once. (A New Definition, pg. 41)
The church should be a community where the Word is passed and echoed from person to person continually. God has actually given other Christians gifts for the sake of building you up. A good church knows that only God's Word can sustain life and awaken faith, therefore the Word stays central. Isolation seems like the safest place to be, when in reality there is nowhere more dangerous. Satan often uses isolation to lure us away from Christ. He wants to get us away from the pack so he can attack us when we are defenseless. (Good People, pg. 84-85)
Their hearts long for more and more wealth because they aren't truly satisfied. Money has a way of seducing us and leading us away from God. Having a bunch of stuff makes us think all of our needs are met. But money can't take care of all our needs. Only God can meet each and every need. Sometimes the most gracious thing the Lord can do is strip us of our riches, that our attention would be turned back to Him. Wealth itself is not a problem. The problem is that sinful people like you and I fall in love with wealth. (Good Stuff, pg. 105-106)
The treasures that we store on this earth will eventually fall apart or pass away. We would instead use our wealth for good works; God will reward us in glory with everlasting treasure. (Good Stuff, pg. 110)
Faith is often misunderstood. Many people think faith means believing God will give us whatever we need or desire. Faith isn't believing God will give you everything you want. Faith is believing God will do as He promised. (Good Expectations, pg. 141)
Suffering is part of our calling. Suffering is part of the good life. Some of us may suffer from disease and injury. Others of us may lose our jobs and suffer poverty. Others of us will suffer from broken families and relationships. All of us will, in some way, be persecuted for our faith in Christ. The good life isn't easy, but it's worth it. God uses that suffering for our good and His glory. (Good Expectations, pg. 147)
"I rapped about random stuff...how hot I was, how many girls I could pull," Trip says. But upon giving his life to Christ, at age 14, his focus changed from fortune, fame, and women to serving and ministering the Gospel.
As kids, most people aspire to be famous, but few actually achieve fame. Some come close, but most begrudgingly let go of their childhood fantasy once reality arrives. Trip Lee was just like most kids, until the reality of eternity compelled him to gracefully loosen his grip on worldly fame.
William Lee Barefield III, better known as Trip Lee, was born and raised in Dallas, TX. As a child, Trip had dreams of being a professional athlete or famous rapper, so he began to hone his lyrical skills at the age of 12. "I rapped about random stuff-how hot I was or how many girls I could pull," Trip says. But upon giving his life to Christ, at age 14, his focus changed from fortune, fame and women to serving and ministering the Gospel.
Trip slowly recognized that all of his life should be centered on Christ. "One day, I just decided I'm only doing Christian Hip Hop. Rappers like Ambassador and Da Truth helped provide a model for how I would begin to do that," he says. He also had an immense desire to learn and teach the scripture, so he became a leader in his youth group and preached his first sermon at age 17.
In 2004, Trip met Lecrae at a concert; months later, after talking and building with each other, Lecrae began to disciple him. While still in high school, Trip was given the opportunity to pen a few devotionals for the Reach Records website that dealt with theological matters. Trip would then sign with Reach Records, and his debut album, If They Only Knew, hit stores nationwide a few days after his high school graduation. His first full-length album introduced hip-hop fans to his distinct southern sound, unique delivery and gospel-saturated lyrics. That same year, Trip was also featured on the Dove Award-nominated, timeless classic "Jesus Muzik" with label mate Lecrae.
His sophomore album, 20/20, was released in 2008 and garnered much success: breaking into the Billboard Top 200, reaching #11 on the Billboard Christian albums chart and landing at #4 on the Gospel chart. With his third studio album, Between Two Worlds, Trip offers a collection of reflections on life in a fallen world. Those reflections resonated with listeners as B2W debuted at #1 on the Christian and Gospel Billboard charts, #5 on the Hip Hop/Rap iTunes chart and #9 on the Top Albums iTunes chart. The album also received two Dove nominations and a Stellar Award for Best Gospel Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year.
Since his first album release, Trip has traveled the world performing for thousands of listeners. The Christ-centered hip-hop message he brings has also built a platform for him among churches and other Christian organizations, which has led to numerous opportunities to preach and teach at conferences and other events.
Trip now resides in Washington, DC with his wife and is finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies degree by distance with Boyce College. He is currently touring, working on his fourth album, blogging (bragonmylord.com) and aiming to author a few New York Times bestsellers. Trip's unending desire is to proclaim the grace and beauty of Jesus Christ to anyone that will listen. Ultimately, he hopes this journey will someday lead to pastoring a church.