Image courtesy of Complex
By Maisy Sullivan
After months of waiting, Trippie Redd released the deluxe version of his most recent album, Pegasus. On February 19, 2021, Neon Shark vs. Pegasus was dropped for all the world to hear.
Trippie Redd has a very distinct voice, coupled with a very diverse style of music. He has used notes of rock in his music before, though he is primarily a rapper. Neon Shark, however, is the rock-inspired counterpart to Pegasus.
As aforementioned in my article on Pegasus, Trippie Redd is known for his emo-style rap roots. Emo rap is a fitting complement to alternative rock, as they historically have similar lyrics and tones.
Neon Shark is the first attempt at a fully produced rock album, with only allusions to Trippie Redd’s traditional style of music. His biggest accomplishment on the album is the production: Neon Shark is produced entirely by Travis Barker, the drummer of Blink-182. Barker is a punk icon with a very distinguishable style of music, making the album more credible in the rock scene.
“When it came down to all the different songs and how they felt and putting them together, it’s like a rollercoaster, there are different ups and downs and it’s just fire,” Trippie Redd explained in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Starting off strong, Neon Shark’s first track is “PILL BREAKER” with Machine Gun Kelly, aka MGK, and Blackbear. It is a love song, ironically relating the overwhelming emotions that come with being in love, to drugs. Blackbear is a popular figure in the alternative R&B scene, while Machine Gun Kelly has emerged with intense power in the pop-punk scene. “PILL BREAKER” is a star-studded track, worth a listen for the smooth vocals of Blackbear, MGK’s raw lyrical talent, and Trippie Redd’s signature raspy whine. MGK is also featured on “RED SKY,” which showcases an intensely performed heartbreak song.
The same Rolling Stone’s article explains the intent of Neon Shark. Trippie Redd didn’t just want to make a rap album and add guitar and drums to imitate rock. He wanted to create the album the same way a rockstar would, which he did with Travis Barker’s aid.
“It’s a real rock album. It’s not just guitar over trap beats, we went all the way in,” said Barker.
The authenticity of the genre is reflected in the choice of features. Travis Barker is one of the biggest punk stars and icons of the 90s. MGK, as previously explained, is a superstar in the mainstream rock scene. Chino Moreno, featured on the song “GERONIMO” is the lead vocalist of the 90s metal band, Deftones. Finally, “DEAD DESERT” features notable metal rappers, ZillaKami of the popular trap metal group City Morgue, and Scarlxrd.
Neon Shark is very experimental. Trippie Redd uses rock as the sort of umbrella genre, yet tries out different branches of the artistic category. He features screamo, pop-punk, trap, and traditional alternative styles to combine into the entirety of the work. Different emotions are also present throughout the songs, mirroring his versatility. The production of Travis Barker and his drumming gives a very Blink-182-esque feel to the album, as he has a very recognizable style in his band’s discography.
Some of the most noteworthy tracks are “WITHOUT YOU” and “MEGLADON,” where Trippie Redd’s whiny, nasally voice reflects classic punk and rock music. The intensity of the lyricism and composition is what constitutes Neon Shark as a success for a debut rock album.
Critics dislike Trippie Redd’s tendency to follow trends. Many artists that aren’t inherently “rockstars” have been testing the waters. XXXTentacion and Juice WRLD are among the most popular to succeed in doing so, yet criticism does not associate Trippie Redd as the proper artist for the genre. Despite the criticism, all of these rappers fit into emo rap. If any rapper were to succeed, it would be Trippie Redd.
His discography is messy, his aesthetic is chaotic, and his music tests all styles. Trippie Redd is controversial; however, he does not look to impress. He looks to be himself unapologetically. Neon Shark is a pure reflection of his happy-go-lucky personality. It fits into his emo-style rap genre, and it is easy to discern that he put work into its production.
Neon Shark vs. Pegasus is now available on all streaming platforms.