Trip Lee’s new hip-hop record, entitled Between Two Worlds, releases today in stores, on iTunes, etc. I greatly respect Trip and the work of Reach Records, so it was a pleasure to be able to ask him a few questions. If you’re not familiar with him and his work, I think you’ll enjoy getting to know him a bit.

Best. Album. Title. Ever! Tell us a little bit about what you mean by “Between Two Worlds” and what this album is about.

“Between Two Worlds” is my third album. My previous album, “20/20,” was made to help people see God properly by the Scriptures. So most of the songs were celebrating the character and nature of God and how we should see ourselves in light of Him. But with this album my desire was to help people see every day life properly. Specifically, life in a world where everything seems to go wrong. So the album is really a collection of reflections on life in a fallen world.

I wanted to lament about the difficult things, celebrate the good things, and look to Jesus as our only hope. I tried to make an album everyone could relate to, but that would challenge everyone to look to Jesus as Savior and as everlasting treasure.

When it came time to come up with a good title, the label and I brainstormed for months on what title would capture the heart of the album. I wanted people to know where I find myself to be each day. I live in this broken world, while at the same time I look forward to the redemption and recreation of all things. The Bible tells me my citizenship is in Heaven, yet I’m to glorify God as one of His called-out ones in this world. This blog happens to be my favorite blog and one of the few I visit daily. One day I got on and it just clicked, “Between Two Worlds! That would be a great title for my album.” So I emailed you, only to remember that you stole the title from John Stott anyway and I had no reason to feel shame.

No shame at all!

Let’s play a track from the record, along with the lyrics. Here’s “The Invasion (Hero”) featuring Jai:


Creation’s groaning, lost their hope and feel they always closed in
Lots to cope with, on the ropes, wish they was in the open
This broken world is so dim, our souls are searching, groping
For one with hope to hold us close, and set goodness in motion
I remember growing up in Dallas, I thought me and my close kin
Was more than straight, our folks was great, not broke that paper flowed in
Not boasting man, just saying in my brain I didn’t know then
That all went wrong, and it just can’t go right like a broke pen
My mind was blind and cloaked in, but then that foolishness departed
I saw this thing’s an ocean, and we just tryna swim real far but
But can’t nobody float when we ain’t got boats or no fins
We need a hero to go in, cause our solutions don’t win
Education can’t fix it, more dough just leads to more sin
Medicine is temporary, government seems so thin
With all these weighty problems, that ain’t shrinking they just growing
Who’s adequate to save us, how about He knew no sin?

Like a G5 yeah you rushed to rescue me
Took a cross in exchange for a throne to save me
You began the work and I know you’ll finish
And make all things right when you come back
Cause you’re my hero, you already saved the day
Cause you’re my hero, and I know you’re coming back for me

Verse 2:
Follow the steps bro, Adam sinned now we all dead so
We gotta sentence on our head like death row, everything is wrecked
All creation is a mess bro,
In the fullness of time, in steps the hero no red cloak, He’s Jesus
No flashing lights, glitz n glam, and no cameras
He came to serve needy folks, and point them to the answer
You see Him healing, feeding folks, and telling them the standard
Our most basic need is to be ransomed by Jesus
It has first place, yeah we separated in the worst ways
Even physically peep how the earth quakes
Separated socially, murder and the worst rapes
Even separated from ourselves, we in the worst state
It’s so major, that’s the reason that we need a Savior
Cause the root of needs is separation from Creator
Jesus came humbly to restore us to our maker
And later He’ll restore all that He made bruh, He’s Jesus

Verse 3:
God is not pleased man, it’s clear that His standards missed
The world is running rampant with, sin it’s an abandonment
Man is feeling stranded, feeling hopeless since his banishment
God is angry at the distortion and the mismanagement
Evil is at work, but don’t be thinking He can’t handle it
He promised He would do away with all of it, dismantle it
He’s put up with this damage in His world, but He’s promised us
That He’ll destroy all His enemies and then He’ll walk with us
New Heaven, new Earth that’s where all His sheep dwell
Cause Jesus succeeded in every part of life that we failed
Died the death we couldn’t die, paid our price with 3 nails
Began the work He promised, in the end we all will be well
Already beat our enemies and when His Kingdom’s realized
All those who oppose Him will see Jesus with some real eyes
Deliverance is offered us, the hero He is urging us
Salvation is exclusive to His people who have turned to trust

Tell us a little bit about this song and why you wrote it.

Well, this song is actually a response to another song entitled, “Invade.” Invade is a song that laments about the brokenness of our world and cries out for someone to save the day. It relates with the cry in all of our hearts for things to be better, and asks the question, “Who will save us?” And that particular song ends without any solution to the problem. I’ve found that people are always looking for someone or something new who can save the day, but they are always let down, because fallen solutions can not fix fallen problems. They just make a bigger mess. “The Invasion” points to the truth that the Hero already came, He already saved the day, and He is returning to make all things new.

I wrote this song because most people don’t associate the brokenness in our world with our separation from God. I wanted people to know that our world is fallen, wicked, and chaotic and all of this chaos comes from our separation from God. But that God sent His Son, the Hero, to reconcile us to Himself. And along with that reconciliation we get to benefit from His glorious work on the cross. We not only get to be reconciled to God in this life, but we look forward to an eternity with God. I wanted people to know that God is going to finally destroy His enemies and make all things new. My prayer is that it really connects with people and points to Jesus as the Hero.

One of the most interesting things to me about this resurgence of Reformation-influenced hip hop is the amount of teaching and celebrating you can do in one song, especially compared to other forms of music. Can you give us a bit of insight into your process for songwriting?

Yeah, hip hop is such a unique art form. I was talking to a brother in Nashville the other day about the fact that words like propitiation and eschatological don’t sound so great in “praise and worship” songs. Not that our goal is to use big words, but the nature of hip hop gives us a bit more freedom and an amazing platform. A hip hop song has a lot more words, therefore we can be more didactic and can be more thorough in our celebration. So, we are allowed to play a special role in the Christian music world.

Personally, my songwriting process differs from song to song. Some songs are more reflective so they come out quickly and easily. Others may require further study, etc., so it is a longer process. For example, we did a project called “13 Letters” a couple years ago where each of us surveyed a book or two from the Pauline Epistles. I did Philippians and Titus. Those songs took a bit of extra study because I wanted to be careful to hit most of the major themes, and to do as good as job as possible with such a massive task. But no matter what song I am writing, I always take great care to make sure I am in line with Scripture. With my last two albums, I have a friend whom I trust theologically who reads over all of my lyrics before I finalized the songs. I jokingly call them “heresy checks” and he looks to see if there is any misleading wording, or any theological mistakes that I looked over. I am constantly aware of the fact that as a minister of the Gospel, I speak on behalf of God. And though music is not preaching, any time I say “God said,” He better have said it.

I know you’re studying at Philadelphia Biblical University and worshiping at Epiphany Fellowship with Pastor Eric Mason. What’s the future look like for you?

Well, I’ve been in Philly for around 4 years and I’m staying put for a while. I live in Northeast Philly with my beautiful wife of one year. In the future, my prayer and desire is to help pastor a church. So I see my schooling as preparation for that. I’ll graduate within a year or so and I plan on doing seminary after that. I also try to take advantage of sitting under Pastor E at Epiphany. He trains all of the ministry leaders at Epiph regularly. And in addition to that, me and him get together often so I can learn from him and our other pastors. Music is what I’m giving myself to for this season, but ultimately I think the pastorate is my calling. I’m trying to be patient, but my heart yearns to help shepherd God’s people. I’m praying God gives me the opportunity and the grace to serve well. I also want to write a lot, and I just began my first book on why doctrine matters and how to study it properly. I hope it reaches the kinds of people who don’t visit the Gospel Coalition site every day. I’ll continue to make music as long as God continues to transform lives, and as long as it is the best use of my time. My desire is to be faithful wherever the Lord places me.

All the best to Trip and Reach Records on this new album. The videos below provide more of Trip’s perspective on the meaning of and vision behind “Between Two Worlds.”