Sometimes, the best art derives from incredibly talented people joining forces and creating beautiful music.
King Trippy, a previously featured artist and part of the Dream Team, my first guest bloggers, paired up with Neo Cyckedalik, to create their new album, Trippadelik.
Trippadelik was released on October 29th, 2023, serving as King Trippy's sophomore album following his debut album, Sunshine City, and Neo Cyckedalik's debut album. The ten-song album is thirty–two minutes long and features new fan favorites like GUN IN MY GUITAR CASE and NIGHTMARE.
Neo and Trippy first met at a show where they were both on the bill and they bonded over being two of only three black guitarist there.
Trippy said, "We even made a funny little nod to how simple [and similar] our names were, Trippy and Cyckedalik, which was poetic in how it affected the name of the album."
The duo were both previously solo artist focusing on rap music but chose to change genres for their collaboration. Although the transition from solo artists to duo was overall a smooth process, it came more naturally to Trippy than it did Neo.
Before being a solo artist, Trippy was part of a band and even considered his solo career very collaborative because of the artists and audio engineers who helped him hone in on his signature sound.
Trippy said, "As a human in general, I've always been more of a team player. I will never crutch myself and say I can't and haven't thrived alone, but I love to collab."
For Neo, the collaboration was "a breath of fresh air." Neo's previous collaborative experiences were similar to school projects where not everyone pulled their weight.
Neo said, "This project was a true collaboration where we both equally put our all into it. With us both being stellar multitalented and multidisciplinary artists, we got to explore way more of the potential of this project."
King Trippy and Neo Cyckedalik are both talented in multiple areas of musical creation and performance. Trippy is a lyricist and instrumentalist. Neo is an instrumentalist, audio and sessions engineer, and composer. Their combined talents made overlapping their different creative processes and bouncing ideas off each other a smooth and pleasant experience.
Trippy said, "I learned a lot about Neo through this process and how we are closer as people than we could have imagined. From beginning to end, we worked like a well-oiled machine, completely dividing our creative duties to make sure that we equally shined as two individuals coming together as one."
Despite having some internal concerns about sharing a creative space that could result in an unsatisfactory experience like in his past, Neo echoed Trippy's statement.
"It wasn't as hard as it would've been in other settings because Trippy is dope at what he does. For us, it was mainly a crossbreeding of all our individual influences. We had no conflict bouncing ideas at all because we were on the same page about a lot of things. Plus, our creative differences make up for and even each other out. Almost like how a screw fits."
Despite having built their musical catalog as rap artists, the album better fits into the rock and punk genres, focusing on gothic, emo, and spiritual themes.
For Trippy, this was a return to his musical roots.
Trippy said, "I wanted to return to these genres because as I grow in notoriety, people were unaware of my roots, and I wanted to give my supporters who don't know me personally a look into the many layers of King Trippy."
For Neo, however, the change was much more drastic, signaling an "abandoning" of the musical genre he grew up with and was most familiar with. Neo comes from a long line of musicians. Their grandfather was a DJ who "helped pioneer hip hop," watching it transform into a culture and art. Their father was a ghostwriter who signed to MCA Records during the golden age of hip-hop. Switching genres was prompted by a life-altering and almost fatal accident alongside their coming out as bisexual.
Neo said, "I took [the accident] as a spark of change for me as an entity and an artist."
Although Trippadelik mainly focuses on the collaboration of King Trippy and Neo Cyckedalik, the duo decided to collaborate further by including numerous featured artists that Trippy dubbed "The Avengers" and "the best talents Jersey has to offer." Featured artists include Ethan Knox, Jay Valeyo, Kash DaVinci, COSMICSAAM, and LTN Jinx in songs THANKS 2 YOU, NIGHTMARE, and SWEET INHALE.
For Neo, the album creation process started during a hard time in his life due to numerous factors like fighting addiction, the anniversary of his grandfather's death, and the disillusionment of his band. Although they felt alone and initially territorial of their art, their collaborative concerns washed away once Trippy introduced everyone.
Neo said, "We warmed up quickly and became like a family."
Trippy had already worked with everyone and was familiar with their talents. Still, he was astonished at how incredibly everyone was able to collaborate and create something unique.
Trippy said, "They completely superseded my expectations, and I am grateful to each and every one of them for all their contributions."
With little to no budget for the production and promotion of the album, Trippy and Neo attribute the album's initial success to the excellent teamwork between themselves and all of the collaborators.
Trippy and Neo's artistry is abundantly evident when they describe the inspirations behind the album.
For Trippy, the album is about fulfilling a dream he previously thought impossible.
Trippy said, "We didn't have a lot of everyday representation of black men in alt-rock, and it killed the dream for many that we stepped in to remind those to go against the grain, break the barrier, and be who you are."
For Neo, the album is about creating beautiful art that represents life.
Neo said, "It's about this movie set we call life and the concept of self-realization."
For Trippy and Neo, the creation of this album signified the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
Trippy and Neo love the album so much that they have difficulty cherry-picking a favorite song.
Trippy said, "I identified with this project in waves, meaning a lot of times, different moods would dictate what my favorite song was at the moment."
Still, ALCHEMY is particularly special to Neo because it details their life struggles.
Neo said "I spoke about a lot of the struggle I've gone through in the last year of finding myself – from me coming out to my family and friends to me changing my name and the overall direction I took my art."
However, both agree that LONELY ROAD was the most difficult to work on, leading to its being cut from the album. Neo created the instrumental long before the album was even an idea, but his improved abilities, different creative environments, and changing headspace caused the difficulties that couldn't be resolved in time for the album release.
LONELY ROAD was not the only song cut from the album; there was a song entitled DEVIL'S TREE, which Trippy also listed as one of the most challenging songs to work on. Trippy and Neo claim that cutting songs was a relatively long process because Trippy said they were "pumping out tracks at such an alarming rate." Neo loved every song and didn't want to cut any but was aware of the average listener's attention span.
However, fans don't need to worry because Trippy hinted at a bonus album that will include new tracks that didn't previously make it onto the album and reimagined versions of the current tracklist.
The promotional campaign is one of the most exciting things about this album. With the help of Jay Valeyo and Krash DaVinci, Trippy and Neo created short episodic promotional videos published on Instagram. The episodes were loosely scripted with a plot of the album in a suitcase that is continuously getting stolen despite hilariously absent-minded attempts to keep it safe.
Regarding the promotional campaign, Trippy said, "We dared to be different."
The duo wanted to showcase their personalities so listeners could better understand the masterminds behind the Trippadelik. They wanted their musical messages to be heard and understood.
Creating the promotional videos was Neo's favorite memory of working on Trippadelik.
Neo said "We had so much fun doing it because it was improvised in the moment. That and we all came together completely for those."
Similarly, Trippy enjoyed all the moments of collaboration.
Trippy said, "I've gained more than a project out of everything that transpired. I now have a bigger family of dope individuals and artists that help me grow every day as a person. We all stay in contact [giving us] more people to help us make the most of our life experiences."
Trippadelik seems to be just an ounce of the creative brilliance from not just King Trippy and Neo Cyckedalik but the overall group that worked on the album.
Like Trippy said "We have only just begun to show you what us individuals are capable of. We are on the precipice of being the greatest group of artists in existence."
Listen to Trippadelik on all musical streaming platforms.