At this point, there aren’t many people who follow Hip-Hop music that hasn’t at least heard of Travis Scott. The industry has been trying ever so hard to make this guy happen since 2013. He’s been dividing the Hip-Hop community as some call him a bitter, whereas teens seem to flock to his music like flies. He’s the ideal artist for a generation who care less and less about authenticity in Hip-Hop music – Desiigner is a ‘Future‘ ripoff, yet ‘Panda‘ went to number one in the US, and Drake seemed to get even more popular after even found guilty for using ghostwriters.
Travis Scott fits in alongside these artists easily – his 2015 album Rodeo had him doing impressions of Future, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, and nearly half of the rest of the modern rap community. Nonetheless, Rodeo won him a lot of new fans because, despite his biting, he came through with impeccable production that took Trap and made it grand and progressive. Travis had a huge part to play in making Yeezus what it was, so it came as no surprise that – regarding style – Travis is someone who crafts his beats very well.
Rodeo also had a lot of sleeper hits, such as ‘Antidote‘ as well as unusual song structures with consistent beat switch-ups. His guests consistently outshone him but not to a level that was embarrassing. Rodeo gave off the impression that if Travis worked on what he was saying and if he found a way to deliver it in a style that’s as distinct as his production, he could make a masterpiece.
Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight is not the Trap opera masterpiece that many writers had hoped, more than ever Travis Scott sounds derivative. Travis stitches together so many different vocal styles hoping that one of them will stick yet they all end up sound half-arsed giving off the impression that there are artists out there that can do it better. Whenever there’s a quality guest spot from an artist who has a distinctive style, which there are many on this album, he is completely bodied to the point where you forget it’s his song in the first place at points.
Young Thug completely dominates ‘Pick Up The Phone‘ with his energy and flamboyance. Kendrick gives a showcase in how to utilise your many voices as a rapper on ‘Goosebumps‘. 21 Savage sounds even better on this sort of production than he did on his latest project on ‘Outside‘. Andre 3000 shows us that he’s still got plenty to give in the modern Hip-Hop landscape on the album’s opener. Even Cudi himself – probably one of the Hip-Hop’s most influential figures of this decade – shows up on ‘Through The Late Night‘ to show Travis how to create a drug-fuelled atmosphere in his vocals.
None of the songs listed above are particularly bad, and are in fact all the highest points on the record, but this has nothing to do with Travis as a performer himself. The production itself is fantastic and evokes a sense of grandeur, even if Travis didn’t have much to do with crafting them when you look at the credits. He does have an ear for beats, and occasionally he’ll hum/sing a melody, and it’ll stick such as on ‘Lose.’ Travis Scott remains great at creating an atmosphere as long as you don’t listen to what he’s saying, and as long as you don’t expect any charisma from the person whose name is actually on the title of the album.
This record feels like there was an awful lot of effort put into the beats, yet not a lot of thought put into how to present it when compared to Rodeo. Travis sounds like he’s saying any old shit on these songs with little-to-no thought put into it. He thought that saying ‘stroke my cactus‘ on the song Through the late night was a good idea, and for some reason, he’s belting out how he needs to Heimlich manoeuvre because he has goosebumps on the track Goosebumps. There are other lines that is just generic such as ‘Hope you had a mattress when you sleeping on me‘ or ‘Play no games like the NBA.’ The songs where he’s mostly by himself are some of the more grating moments on the album as there’s so little to the songs such as on ‘SDP Interlude‘ which is all atmosphere, and no actual songwriting.
It’s strange that even though there’s a lack of authenticity in his vocal delivery, what Travis does need a ghostwriter because there’s a real feeling that this album could have been fantastic and whenever there’s good writing on here like on the hit Pick Up The Phone it shows. There’s still hope for Travis to create something great, but this album will be enough for the people who found Rodeo boring never to return to him as an artist again; and for the people who loved Rodeo, there’ll probably take a handful of these tracks and wait for his next project.