The power of a quality team-up can’t be understated. From the Hart Foundation to Jordan and Pippen, putting together a cohesive unit can help an individual achieve greater success than on his or her own. Two amazing rappers who have not found the mainstream audience they probably deserve have taken note of this and combined their efforts. Starlito (who briefly was affiliated with Cash Money Records) and Don Trip (2012 XXL mag freshman who until recently was signed to Interscope) first united in 2011 for “Step Brothers” (inspired by the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly film). The tape proved the two to be a classic tag team, with Trip playing the bruiser and Lito injecting humor and personality. RedEye emailed with the guys to get an insight into the life of an independent act and to get some advice for young rappers of today.
RedEye: For those who haven’t been made aware yet, who are the Step Brothers?
Don Trip: The Step Brothers consist of both Don Trip (an independent artist from Memphis) and Starlito (also an independent artist, but by way of Nashville) who have a mutual love for music and have teamed up to provide a level of “pure” or “honest” music, if you will.
RedEye: From Three 6 Mafia to 8ball & MJG, Chicago has a history of supporting rap from Memphis, Nashville—hell, Tennessee in general. When I was a kid, people had those tapes and anything Rap-A-Lot around at all times. Is there a “Tennessee sound?” Does that even exist?
Starlito: More than just a sound, I just think there is an abundance of quality content coming from the area. From us to Yo Gotti to Juicy J to Young Dolph to Young Buck, it’s not that any of us sound alike, but at the same time we don’t sound like anybody from anywhere else.
DT: I don’t think Tennessee has a distinct sound; I can’t say if that’s needed or not. I enjoy the variety, personally.
RedEye: I think there’s a bit of disconnect between what the mainstream thinks being a rapper is about, the chains and the cars and all that stereotypical stuff, and what the reality is. Can you break down the life of an independent artist?
DT: An independent artist has to be everything for themselves. Even if not physically, all responsibilities lie on you. It’s a lot more work for an indie artist, but if managed properly, it’s far more rewarding.
Starlito: It’s all about perspective. Some rappers only rap about that stuff and win, so it’s not a disconnect any more than it is a perception. People perceive that stuff as success symbols and so you get new artists that try to emulate it. As an independent artist, I oversee and have a hand in, along with final say-so, on ALL of my day-to-day operations. Likewise, my company is the first to get paid in dealings with my brand/namesake. It’s a lot of work simply corresponding with all the people I’m involved with in business, but with the extra responsibilities I reap greater rewards along with a better understanding of what’s going on.
DT: The cars and jewelry are just trophies. A lotta people don’t understand the value of saving and investing and re-investing into your craft.
R: What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to give young rappers who read this piece?
Starlito: Go to school.
Don Trip: The only advice that I would give is that success takes sacrifice, as well as investment. The music business is by all means a “business.”
Starlito and Don Trip with Kevin Gates 8 p.m. Tuesday, Reggie’s Rock Club (2105 S. State St.)
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