Review: Trippie Redd’s “Pegasus: Neon Shark vs Pegasus Presented By Travis Barker”

Trippie Redd has turned rock star with his newest release in collaboration with Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker.

by Frankie Carlson, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

In his latest release, Ohio-born rapper Trippie Redd reaches for new heights with his attempt at a rock album. Produced by Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, “Neon Shark vs Pegasus” blends influences of pop-rock, pop-punk, emo and grunge to make for some of Trippie’s most experimental tracks to date. While the album succeeds on several fronts with its masterful production and colorful instrumentation, the overall product leaves a lot to be desired.

With one of the more dynamic and ranged voices in the current trap and emo rap catalog, the first rumor that Trippie had taken a turn into the rock genre was reason for excitement. Despite a promising start to his career with his early projects, Trippie’s latest releases haven’t done much but disappoint.

His genre-bending swing-and-a-miss album from 2019 titled “!,” as well as the bloated “A Love Letter To You 4,” were underwhelming in every way. 2020 brought Trippie’s most disappointing collection to date with “Pegasus,” which gave us over an hour of Trippe lyrically sleepwalking through the most midlevel material of his career.

“Neon Shark vs Pegasus” is something of an album within an album, as the project is intended to be the deluxe edition of “Pegasus.” The 40 minutes of new rock-pop tracks are at the front, with all of the songs off “Pegasus” following.

While the album is riddled with problems, inconsistencies and unmet potential, it is without a doubt the most exciting direction Trippie has taken his craft in some time. Say what you will, it’s not boring.

The production and instrumentation steal the show on “Neon Shark.” Travis Barker is no stranger to the studio, and he demonstrates his mastery in recording and mixing throughout this project. The soaring guitar sounds on tracks like “SAVE YOURSELF” are pure earcandy, while the impeccable drum performances on songs like “FROZEN OCEAN” bring on goosebumps.

Trippie’s vocals from track to track are hit or miss, with a heavy lean toward miss. In some instances, his diverse vocal timbre serves as a solid fit for the hard rock backing, as can be seen in the tasty pop-punk jam “WITHOUT YOU” or the more groovy pop track “DREAMER.” In many other cases, however, Trippie’s performances feel forced and out of place.

Trippie’s shot at more intense metal-reminiscent screaming on “IT’S COMING” is fun at times, but doesn’t do much to hold our attention. His attempt at an industrial screamo trap delivery with “DEAD DESERT” is an absolute earsore.

Lyrically, this album is nothing special. What few lyrics you are able to pick out are either generic or completely overdone. The unlistenable “SWIMMING” will have you skipping halfway through as Trippie subjects listeners to the obnoxious hook, “just keep swimming awwaayy” to no end. The track “FEMALE SHARK” is another example of this gratuitous repetition as Trippie’s consistent shouting of “Freaky girl!” turns from obnoxious to comical by the end of the track.

So many of the songs on “Neon Shark” are examples of quality equipment, instruments and mixing, with the only downsides being the vocals and the overall songwriting.

Though it has its flaws, overall, “Neon Shark” is not a complete failure. There are fun moments and two to three quality tracks to be taken away from Trippie and Barker’s collab. Looking to the future, this project seems to promise more forward-thinking material from Trippie in projects to come.

What had the potential for greatness falls more in the category of forgettable. It may pass the head-bob test, but “Neon Shark” leaves little lasting impact.

Grade: C