Don Trip Don Trip

In 2009, up-and-coming rapper Don Trip was being cut out of his son’s life by his baby’s mother. It was a crushing reality for the Memphis artist, who wanted to be a part of his infant child’s life.

Furious, Trip went to the booth and recorded “Letter To My Son,” a spirited three-and-a-half minute, hookless cut expressing his love for his son and bashing his son’s mother for keeping Trip away from him.

“It’s the only way I vent,” Trip says today of his music-making process. “I don’t talk and I don’t have any journals. I don’t really believe in confiding in people, so I felt like that was a way to get it off my chest. It really didn’t get it off my chest, but it helped right then.”

Don Trip Becomes an Independent Success

“Letter To My Son” became an Internet hit, with more than 1.2 million YouTube views. Thanks in part to “Letter To My Son” and other lyrically potent selections (including the romantic “Honeymoon” and “Running Away,” a tune about teen pregnancy), Trip signed to Family First/Epidemic/Interscope Records last year.

Even though “Letter To My Son” was a few years old by then, Interscope honcho Jimmy Iovine suggested to Trip that the song still has life and just needed a hook.

“With Jimmy being a boss, I at least had to hear him out,” Trip says. “I said in order for me to cooperate with that, it’s got to be somebody that fits, somebody with soul like Cee Lo Green. When I said, ‘like Cee Lo Green,’ I guess that gave them the push to go ahead and push to get Cee Lo Green. So when they came back to me with Cee Lo on the hook, it was magical.”

Adding Cee Lo and a chorus made “Letter To My Son” a more complete song, breaking up the original three-and-a-half verse and giving it a more conventional structure. Beyond that, Trip was impressed when he met Cee Lo and was able to discuss the selection.

The Cee Lo Inspiration

“Cee Lo let me know that him doing the collaboration wasn’t because of the bread,” Trip says. “It was because it was a record that he felt. It was heartfelt to him, too.”

Trip admires Cee Lo’s willingness to take artistic chances, to do what he wants to do, not what people expect him to do. It’s a trait that Trip, who recently released the mixtape “Guerilla” and has a debut album “Help Is On the Way” around the corner, plans to employ in his own career

“I felt like I need to be the person that doesn’t get comfortable,” he says. “Right now, that’s what they do in the game. After so long, they get comfortable and just say anything. I want to be someone that every time they go in, they give it everything they can give it.”

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter and check out his author page on Amazon.com.

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