In our society’s long-held deification of fame and celebrity, it seems artists, entertainers, and superstars are now expected to be even more well-rounded than in previous eras, needing to possess “the total package” in order to succeed in the competitive industries of music and entertainment. In a digital age defined by tech innovation, social media connectivity, and content creativity, we’ve seen more examples of celebrities and influencers’ hidden talents than ever before. From sports to music to film and television, many stars have pivoted, changed lanes, and started anew, some even multiple times. We all know the famous stories of how Dwayne Johnson went from WWE wrestler to Hollywood leading man, or how multi-platinum rapper J. Cole gave up his college basketball dreams at St. John’s University to become a rap icon.
Even beyond the realm of athletes, music artists, and actors transitioning and transcending their career paths, the significance of embracing multiple skills and diverse creative interests has never been more apparent to today’s stars. More than ever, it seems the music industry craves a Renaissance spirit such as Donald “Childish Gambino” Glover or Dave “Lil Dicky” Burd who are capable of blending many artistic disciplines, unafraid of traditional gatekeepers and professional ceilings.
At this intersection in 2023 where Millennial and Gen Z pop culture influencers are naturally evolving into artistic tastemakers and entrepreneurial moguls online (Jake Paul, Tinx, Yung Gravy, Zack Bia, Jack Harlow to name a few), a new wave of artist-meets-content-creator has been created. And in the vast landscape of internet culture, few stories shine as brightly as that of Robbie Tripp, a basketball star-turned-writer-turned-influencer-turned-rapper whose music and content have polarized the music industry in recent years. With his unapologetic brand of body positivity and high-energy persona, it seems Tripp’s ripple effect is starting to be felt.
“I am the rap game Don Quixote,” Tripp says. “I have a destiny to fulfill. I believe I was born to create, but I spent the first chapter of my life locked in to pursuing my hoops dreams. When I dropped out of college and began working on my craft as a writer and creator, I could always feel that I was destined to create on a large scale.”
Raised in Utah before relocating with his family to Las Vegas, Nevada, Tripp spent his elementary school, middle school, and high school years training to achieve his dreams of becoming a professional basketball player. He was just 13 years old when in 2014 he was selected as one of 10 student-athletes from across the United States to attend Shaquille O’Neal’s “Hot Shots Camp” in Los Angeles, California. As a high school prospect, Tripp went on to lead his state classification in scoring and ended his senior season as the third leading scorer in the state of Utah. After graduating, Tripp was eventually recruited to play junior college basketball at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.
“Growing up with hoop dreams I was the kid shoveling snow off the driveway so I could shoot until it was dark, until my fingers bled, until I was yelling and cursing at myself for not being able to hit a certain shot,” Tripp recalls with a laugh. “It’s that type of obsessive passion and forward momentum that I’ve carried with me into everything I do in my art and in my life. I actually recently got “hoop dreams” tattooed on my arm to represent that same mentality of hunger and ambition toward my goals. I never want to lose that. I don’t think I could if I tried.”
When Tripp arrived as a thin, sharpshooting guard in the competitive California Community College Athletic Association–as covered on Netflix’s popular “Last Chance U” series featuring East Los Angeles College–he quickly established himself as a hot shooting threat. In his first collegiate basketball game, Tripp went a near-perfect 6-for-7 from three-point range for the Panthers, leading his team in scoring with 23 points over rival Merced College. However, Robbie’s hot start to the season ended with a foot injury midway through his freshman season, forcing him to sit out. His first time away from the court in years, he says he began to reevaluate his direction and goals.
The interests that had always complimented Robbie’s lofty aspirations on the basketball court were his love for music and writing. Tripp reveals that as a high school student he would make his own rap mixtapes on the school library’s iMac computers, utilizing the GarageBand application to create quick beat loops and record verses directly into the built-in microphone between classes. His juvenile mixtapes were titled in Sharpie with names like “Yellow Buses & Diesel Fuel” and “The Greedy Assassinz”. The young Tripp would then sell his burned CDs in hallways and lunch spots for $5 each, and even performed his own raps at his school for anti-drug assemblies and student body elections.
In college, while getting used to newfound freedom due to sitting out from basketball practice, Tripp founded the Salinas Writer’s Circle at the John Steinbeck Public Library, where he would host panels and conduct writing workshops for local authors and aspiring writers. On the weekends when he didn’t have classes, Tripp would take the Greyhound Bus to San Francisco in order to act in student films at the Academy of Art University. Armed with his long-held passion but a newfound focus for creativity and entrepreneurship, Tripp began his journey from basketball jones to prolific creator.
The years following would see Tripp release a flurry of writings and creative contributions. In 2015, he penned his first book Create Rebellion, a “creative manifesto” aimed to inspire young artists and creative minds. Upon moving to San Francisco in 2016 with his wife, Tripp became a contributing writer to Entrepreneur and HuffPost, and began sharing his work at book readings across the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2017, Tripp enjoyed a full circle moment when he was selected to be the first speaker at the inaugural TEDx Salinas event. Tripp’s talk titled “How Millennial Narcissists Are Changing the World” celebrated and analyzed the disruption and innovation that the Millennial generation brought into the workforce. He also shared his career journey and encouraged others to chase their dreams, a theme that had become a notable part of his brand.
“The message I’ve always wanted to send is pretty simple,” Tripp says. “I want to chase my dreams, express my creativity, and live my best life, and I’m just as passionate about other people doing what makes them light up. Life is too short to live on someone else’s time, I want to see an awakening of dreamers and creators and doers out in the world.”
Tripp extended this mindset, and his advice, to his social media content as well. In the summer of 2017, one of Robbie’s Instagram posts celebrating his wife in a swimsuit went massively viral and became a trending topic online. He suddenly found himself in the center of an international debate on body positivity, having attracted the attention of nearly every major media outlet and gathering reactions from millions of online users, talk show hosts, and celebrities.
Tripp’s online profile soared following his viral post, breathing new life into his professional career as a full-time content creator and internet personality. However, it wouldn’t be until a couple years later that Tripp would make headlines again, this time for leaving an unforgettable mark on the music industry.
In May 2019, Tripp released his debut single “Chubby Sexy”, a body positive ode to curvy and plus size women across the world, inspired by his wife Sarah Tripp, a prominent style blogger and curve model in the fashion world. The upbeat, summertime track released simultaneously with an official music video, featuring Tripp and his wife, along with three plus size swimsuit and lingerie models showcasing their natural figures. The project immediately took hold in the Tripps’ fan bases and spread in popularity quickly online. “Chubby Sexy” was both applauded and lambasted online, as it challenged perceptions of women’s bodies and defied typical music industry tropes by celebrating body positivity and size inclusivity. By year’s end, Robbie Tripp and “Chubby Sexy” was featured in GQ Magazine as a “Moment of the Year” in its annual Men of the Year issue.
“I’m always going to shine a light on what I believe in and what resonates with me as an artist and as a human,” Tripp says. “I always thought it was so tiring the way that women are typically portrayed in the media and I love being able to showcase models of all sizes who embody what it means to be a strong, powerful, beautiful woman through music and entertainment.”
Following his breakthrough success, Tripp spent the next years building his fan base as an artist, releasing a string of successful singles such as European-favorite “Luka Doncic” and “Flamingo Freestyle” featuring longtime internet rap star RiFF RAFF. Both music videos contained tributes to Tripp’s past life as a baller, incorporating his ball handling moves and long range jump shooting into the visuals.
Tripp’s music career would experience another massive level up in 2022 with his track “Big Girl Banger”, after the upbeat tune caught wildfire on TikTok. The tune garnered hundreds of millions of views on the popular video platform, creating a significant media buzz and catapulting Tripp into the conversation of rising artists establishing their presence online.
Currently, Tripp is enjoying continued success due to his most recent viral project: “Basic Bro”. The darkly catchy single and its high-energy music video has already surpassed 1 million views on Tripp’s YouTube channel, “our fastest visual to hit a milli yet” the artist revealed on his Instagram, thanking his fans for the support. The official “Basic Bro” music video almost immediately went viral online after clips of Tripp moonwalking and playing basketball in red leather pants and a red Prada puffer vest went viral on major rap blogs such as WorldStarHipHop, No Jumper, RapTV, and Say Cheese TV. “I love incorporating my love for basketball into my art,” Tripp says when asked about the viral visuals. “People are always going to have their own opinions on music but I don’t think anyone can doubt that I really used to get busy on the basketball court.”
Now, as Tripp’s status as a viral rapper and internet personality continues to soar, he has logged collaborations with major hip hop artists such as fellow Las Vegas emcee Dizzy Wright, and more recently chart toppers like Blocboy JB and viral freestyle rapper Lil Seeto. Tripp’s dedication and ambition to consistently deliver music and content with his expanding fan base has been a hallmark of his independent platform, the same work ethic he applied to his hoop dreams years ago.
“I’ve always been obsessive about my dreams,” Robbie says. “It’s how I’ve always been. And now I am filled with a Wonka-esque energy to create on a massive scale. It’s what I was born to do.”