Perhaps the most influential jazz musician ever, Louis Armstrong was born to a mother who often turned to prostitution and was son to a father who abandoned him soon after he was born. Johnny Cash, the “Man in Black,” was born into a family of sharecroppers and by the age of 12 was spending his days hauling heavy loads of cotton. If one inspects the formative years of artists and musicians often a common thread he would find is that early on, music appeared as the last thing on the list as an ultimate destination.
Kevin Burgess, now better known by his stage name KB, is a rapper. His latest EP 100 debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Christian Album Chart, #4 on Billboard’s Rap Chart and respectfully at #22 on Billboard’s coveted Top 200 Album Chart. He’s won a Dove Award (Nominated twice), been a Recording Academy featured artist on Grammy.com and has received critical acclaim from his peers and media such as Billboard Magazine and The Blaze. He’s toured nationally with Tenth Avenue North and is scheduled to join Trip Lee for the upcoming “Rise Tour.” But like so many musicians that came before him, KB, the rapper, almost never happened.
At birth, the doctor didn’t think he’d ever be able to talk or even speak clearly. Fortunately, KB was able to overcome this ailment, but hip-hop was frowned upon in his household, forcing the youngster to seek a safer instrument for musical expression. “I grew up in a structured military family. In my house, you couldn’t listen to hip-hop,” KB explains. “I used to hide in a closet and listen to it on my Walkman.” KB hails from Tampa, FL by way of an Air Force base close to East St. Louis. Along the way, KB, thirsting for an outlet for his love of music with a desperate need for expression, picked up the trumpet. Fast forward to the present and KB has already released a mixtape, a widely successful debut album and is working on his second hip-hop studio album. And in what was once considered the disfavored music of his childhood, KB has discovered redemption.
It’s true that life can often feel like a balancing act, a constant juggling of family responsibility, personal and professional ambition, and the need for rest. For the artist, particularly one who is fueled by an unwavering passion for creative expression, this can be especially trying. Some have better management of it than others. Talk to Trip Lee for more than a few moments and you’ll get the sense that he’s carrying the weight of the world. But the husband, father, rapper, author, and pastor is uniquely capable, a vessel firmly planted and resolute. While the challenges that come with a busy lifestyle can sometimes abound—Trip recently relocated from Dallas to Atlanta to help plant a church—the grace with which he navigates his many roles is nothing if not inspiring. It’s never been about busyness for its own sake, but a commitment to a cause greater than all—the cause of spreading Hope.
Two years removed from his 5th album Rise, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Rap chart and #16 on the Billboard 200, Trip sounds more focused than ever. “It’s time,” he says.
His new mixtape The Waiting Room is an exercise in power and precision. Though its title speaks to things like patience and contentment—all which are good and true and examined here with a biblical lens—the urgency is also deeply felt. “This earth is a place where all of our longings just won’t come true,” Trip says. “We’re always waiting for things to be made right.”
Throughout the 10 songs that make up The Waiting Room, Trip wrestles with joy and pain, life and death, and the realities of our current social and political climate. Since Rise, violence, injustice, and heightened levels of civil unrest have captivated our national consciousness. The example of the church, Trip argues, is needed now more than ever before. “We have to step up and meet people where they are. That’s how you create change.”