Interview: Hip Hop Artist Trip Lee on 'The Good Life' Book

I think one of the main things that makes it different is...we're going to make good art. So it's important that we communicate good truth, but along with that it's important that the music made sounds good. I don't like when Christian artists think: Oh, there's a good message in there. It doesn't matter if the music sounds that great – it can just sound okay. But God is an incredible Creator, and He's given us the gift to create too, and He created a beautiful creation and we will reflect Him if we also would create beautiful things. And He's glorified in that.

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(Photo: Pure Publicity)

CP: In the book you address three different lies that we tell ourselves about what the good life is, and one of them you call "God-is-for-me-ism" – can you explain what that is?

Lee: "God-is-for-me-ism," or "It's-all-about-me-ism," that's this worldview that thinks that the entire world revolves around us – including God. We expect that God is basically here to give us everything that we need, that God is basically here to serve us and not the other way around, and so I think a lot of the reason we think that is because there's a lot of popular preachers and teachers these days that teach us these things: [Have] big dreams, tell God, and He'll show up and deliver it for you. And the truth is it's a lot more complicated than that...The truth is that the universe is centered around Him, and not us, and so I think that's one of the false worldviews about the good life.

I think the good life is not centered around us, but it's actually centered around God. God made us – He made us for Him. His desire for our life is that we would live our lives for Him. And so He's gracious and He's merciful, so He will pour out graces and mercies and blessings on us, but that's not the big picture. The big picture is Him.

CP: You hope to eventually become a pastor. Is that something that you hope to accomplish in the near future? Would you have to stop pursuing a rap career in order to do so?

Lee: Interesting you're asking that question, because I'm actually in a transitional phase in my life where I'm about to transition from music being my main thing to preparation for pastoral ministry being my main thing.

So I'm not going to be traveling and doing as much music as I have in the past, because I do feel like if I want to be a pastor then I can't keep going all the time. For me to be prepared for that I have to be in one place for a little while, for me to be able to be involved in my church in a way that I can grow. And so, I'm in a transitional phase right now where I'm about to kind of step away from music and transition into pastoral ministry.

CP: How soon do you think you'll make that transition?

Lee: The transition is about to start now...I'm going to be on staff at my church in a position that will allow me to continue to be trained for pastoral ministry.

CP: Do you have any regrets for not pursuing a more main stream hip hop and rap career?

Lee: No, I don't have any regrets. There are times, of course, you'll look at some of my peers in hip hop doing mainstream hip hop, and you see the kind of success they get, the kind of perks that come with being a bigger artist, and you think: Man, if my content was a little bit more swallowable for the mainstream then maybe I would have some of these things.

It's natural to think that, but I didn't start doing this for those things in the first place. The reason I wanted to rap is I wanted to do beautiful art that glorifies God and I wanted to help people understand big truth. And that's been my goal. At the end of the day all that other stuff won't matter very much. When I die, when I stand before God, that stuff won't matter very much, but what will matter is impacting lives for Him, so that's definitely what I've been trying to do.

And God gave me this gift. I want to use it for Him, that's why He gave it to me, and I can't imagine taking this gift from God and using it for things that He opposes. I still have no regrets – grateful that I did things the way I did. God has been more than gracious to me. I didn't expect to get to travel the world. I didn't expect to be on this kind of stage. I didn't expect any of this. So I'm very grateful, He's been very gracious to me.

CP: What advice do you have for young people who are considering pursuing a career in hip hop?

Lee: The main advice that I give people is something that I've kind of already alluded to here. The first one is to do good music, to work at being good. If that means writing a verse every day, if that means letting other people hear your music, whatever it's going to take for you to be good at the art form. You want to be good.

The second part is to really think deeply about what it means to be faithful to God in the way that you do it. That doesn't mean you have to rap quite like me, it doesn't mean you have to rap like anybody else. Think about what it looks like for you to rap in a way that will bring God glory. Be faithful to Him in the stuff that you say, the way you pursue your career.

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