Trip Lee is one of my favorite rappers. His most recent album, "The Good Life" is great in terms of music, lyrics, themes, and features. The artists featured on the disc are top notch and the theme of living what Trip Lee calls "the good life" is very much needed today. The good life to Trip Lee can be summed up in the line, "The good life is the life that's been laid down."
Since the release of his top selling album, the early twenties rapper has since released a book with the same title tackling some of the same issues. The book is simple, but the message is profound and beautifully shows why the gospel is, well, so beautiful. Trip Lee's basic argument in both the album and the book is that we are all chasing after the good life, but we are looking for it in the wrong places. Scripture refers to these objects and people as idols: money, pleasure, power, influence, a family, a spouse, upper mobility, pride, a resume, early retirement, etc. Trip argues that these things, all temporary of course, will not give us the good life. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can. He writes:
As you know, hip-hop is always good for a heavy dose of hedonism. The images slowly seduce us and draw us in. I know this is the picture I was chasing after: Coke bottle figures and seven-figure checks. But what happens when you get there? Even the most beautiful women are imperfect an let us down from time to time. and surly, shiny machines rolling on wheels can't be what we were made to live for. They break down, they get dented in accidents, and they eventually go to the same junkyard as Hyundais. Surely we can do better. This is not a good life. (39-40)
That is the message of the book and he doesn't veer from it. The writing is very simple and it is clear that Trip Lee is not a professional writer or an academic. He is a young Christian armed with the gospel and an audience that will listen to him. He comes from a unique perspective, especially in the world of books, of being a rapper who understands the culture, the language, and the universal desire to seek the good life in our selves and our own abilities.
But the simplicity of the book is not necessarily a weakness. However, if you are looking for a more thorough and deep discussion on idolatry, etc. perhaps this isn't the right book for you. But that is not its primary goal. Trip shows that simplicity can be, at times, more powerful than depth and sophistication. His chapter on the church is particularly helpful. There is nothing profound or necessarily new here, but Trips matter-of-fact way of showing how the church contributes to the good life is powerful. He writes:
Imagine for a second a young boy, living as an orphan, who was adopted by a loving family. They bring him home, fee him, and give him his own room. He loves his new parents, and he's learning how to spell his new last name! But when his new parents introduce him to his new brothers and sisters, he wants nothing to do with them. He's glad to be a part of the family, yet he rejects his brothers and sisters?
All believers have been adopted by God and are now His children. But we often forget that we were adopted into a family of adopted children. We can't take on our Father's name and ignore the rest of the family. (79)
There is a solid treatment of the Christian doctrine of adoption applied directly to the doctrine of the church in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand way. In the same chapter, he briefly deals with the popular assertion that one can be spiritual but not religious. To that, he briefly notes They figure they can love God without loving His people (81). Exactly! He later adds that talk that Christianity is communal is scarey because all that "spiritual, but not religious" talk is really just an excuse to hide. Again, exactly!
Beyond this chapter on the church, Trip deals with a variety of issues in this sort of manner. He notes the emptiness (vanity is the word Solomon would use) of materialism. Have you not noticed, he asks, that the riches people in the world spend their time trying to get richer? It all seems so vain. So empty.
Overall, for the right person, this is an excellent read. I would not recommend this to a seminary professor or one of his students. But for the pastor who ministers to new believers, those on the fence, and young students, Trips influence as a popular rapper and artist and his ability to write in such a simple, yet direct manner takes this gospel message far.