By Matthew Shircliffe–
He is not a lyrical stud by any measure, but Travi$ Scott made his name relevant coasting off of party anthems, club bangers and a rather abrasive lifestyle–not to mention lending his producer skills on both of Kanye West’s last two projects, Cruel Summer and Yeezus.
As a young producer-rapper (and yes, in that order), protégé of Kanye West and someone that has established a spot in the realm of current hip-hop artists, Scott returns off of his highly revered, outstanding mix tape, Days Before Rodeo, that was released last August.
Scott lit a match under his career, and he was able to live off the coattails of that vastly superior and well put-together tape for a while.
Fast forward to last December. Scott announced Rodeo, an album that he has been working on, and a sudden hype emerged as the anticipation for the follow-up to the mixtape was intensifying.
Finally after nearly eight months of him teasing the fans, Rodeo hit stores on Friday, and it’s a somewhat of a head-scratcher.
A sigh of disappointment was my immediate reaction while spinning the album through, due to his heavy promotion of the LP throughout the last eight months, preparing us for a memorable ride that turned out to be a delusion.
What was missing from this long-awaited project? Progression.
There was virtually little to no improvement or any sense of creative evolution in Scott since Days Before Rodeo.
It felt like Scott settled with a sound, and he was content with the sound he established. There was an incredible amount of improvement from his first mixtape, Owl Pharaoh to Days Before Rodeo, but somehow he managed to regress after last year’s tape.
Providing little quotables and bland lyrical content, Scott releases an all right project, especially in the strength of rap this year.
Now obviously Travi$ Scott the rapper is not what made me a Travi$ Scott fan, because let’s face it, the guy was never pushing lyrical miracles to begin with. However it was that hunger, that burning passion he displayed, that made me a fan.
The energy he offered was supernatural, and his popularized nickname La Flame actually meant something. Keep in mind this was barely a year ago too. It’s not like he took a hiatus, then cooled off and lost his sense of direction. This was a heavy drop off from Days Before Rodeo and it is barely 12 months old.
The album’s first two singles, 3500 with Future and 2 Chainz, who spit a surprisingly remarkable verse was a classic Travi$ Scott banger that definitely had us wanting more La Flame, and Antidote, a slower much more ear-pleasuring record had me hyped for what I had already marked as a potential album of the year candidate, but I was sorely wrong.
Despite having talented artists at his arsenal and being outshined by all of them such as Kanye West, The Weeknd, Juicy J, Future and Justin Bieber, none of these artists are able to push Rodeo to the heights it had the potential to reach. Not even the mastermind Kanye West could carry the album to the finish line.
For instance, Kanye puts his efforts on Piss On Your Grave in what sounds like a throw-away, rejected cut from a late-night Yeezus recording session, as he screams “Piss on your grave” so many times, to the point where it becomes unbearable to listen to and that is saying a lot for me considering Kanye is my favorite artist.
Unfortunately, this finds itself at the bottom pile of the features.
Something that does Rodeo favors is the production side of it, starring a golden list of producers, as it was handled by Pharrell, Kanye West, Zaytoven, Mike Dean, Metro Boomin, DJ Dahi and of course Travi$ himself, as the album is layered down with a much darker and grotesque feel.
On the intro, Pornography with T.I., the Atlanta rapper begins the album narrating much like Common did On Kid Cudi’s debut album, Man On the Moon,(a major influence on Scott’s career) and it shined a bright light of hope for the album, as Scott’s flow and futuristic sound in the first verse is intoxicating. He glides into Rodeo with a slower track, but oddly it works well for him on a personal favorite off the album.
On track two, Oh My Dis Side, that ray of hope for a great album keeps on shining, as Quavo from Migos, collaborates with Scott handing off a lengthy, solid cut.
Tracks such as 90210, give us a typical, catchy hook , and a feel-good beat provided with chilling vocals by newly signed G.O.O.D. Music artist Kacy Hill, and Pray 4 Love with The Weeknd, an almost immediate winner before the song was even played.
Nightcrawler with Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd and Chief Keef can pass as the guilty pleasure cut off Rodeo with appealing production and a hook by Swae Lee that earns some healthy replay.
Tracks such as Ok Alright, Wasted and Impossible serve as fillers and time-killers while none of them are that impressive, regardless of the wise choice to feature Juicy J and ScHoolboy Q on two of them.
On Apple Pie, perhaps the closest we’ll be afforded to a storytelling rap, Scott’s come-up and departure from his mom’s house to make a name for himself in rap, are the topics of what I thought was one of the better offerings off the project and also serves as the conclusion of the standard edition of the album, so at the very least it went out on a good note as T.I. is the last voice heard.
Even though, the album wasn’t innovative or game-changing, that doesn’t mean it can’t be appreciated. After a generous amount of listening, some of it kind of sticks in a weird way, but even then, nothing is taught through this album, as more superficial anthems are brought to surface, but sadly, even more sub-par lyrical content is as well.
It wasn’t a ground-breaking debut or a hard-hitting entry way, but I guess it’s alright for him. It’s not a terrible album; let’s not get that confused, but the expectations for this project were off the wall, because the mixtape was such a well-orchestrated piece of music. The album will be spinning for a couple more months, but nothing more than that.