Travis Scott is a 23 year old rapper from Houston, TX, but it’s easy to mistake him for another ATL native that has been bubbling for the last two years. His sound has been placed in the same vein as Future, Young Thug, Migos, ILOVEMAKONNEN, and Rich Homie Quan. He’s signed to Grand Hustle as an artist, but is also signed to G.O.O.D Music as a producer and more known for his affiliation with Kanye West. For all we know or have read about Mr. Scott in articles and interviews, he is an enigma. We have seen him outburst at a level that can be compared to Mr. West, but he doesn’t have the catalog to get away with his arrogance.

His debut mixtape, Owl Pharaoh and its successor, Days Before Rodeo have been well received by fans. Personally, I’ve listened to both these mixtapes and haven’t heard a single verse better than his on “Sin City” from the G.O.O.D Music compilation, Cruel Summer, back in 2012. In the three years since that verse, the 2013 XXL Freshmen has been credited for his production work with Rihanna, Drake, and Jay-Z. All these accomplishments, including a successful tour earlier this year with Thugger Thugger and frequent collaborator and producer, Metro Boomin, and a large fanbase that has credibility questioned constantly of what they enjoy from the chameleon artist that takes shapes of several different rappers. Hopefully on his debut album, Rodeo, his bars have improved and Mr. Scott can impress listeners and skeptics like myself sonically and lyrically.

Rodeo

1. Pornography
Produced by Sonny Digital & Metro Boomin’
I saw on MTV.com that Scott wanted his former labelmate, Kid Cudi, to appear on his debut. The Man on the Moon is nowhere to be found on Rodeo, but it’s hard to argue that his influence is not present. Talk of a solar system immediately reminds me of Cudi’s Man On The Moon album. “Road To Redemption” Tip fills in the narrator role previously held by Common and continuously makes appearances throughout the album.

Thank you, Genius.com for trying, but I’m still stumped. I’ve listened to this album at least 8 times in the span of a week. I still do not understand why this song is called “Pornography.”

Pornography surrounding me
You get high with me, you come down with me
That’s all I need in my fantasy
All these flashing lights blinding me
Give you some of me, you want all of me
And get high with me, and come down with me
That’s all I need in my fantasy

I got the chorus and I still don’t understand. Anyway, it’s a good introduction. We receive a little piece of background of who Travis Scott is and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.

2. Oh My Dis Side
Featuring Quavo; Produced by Allen Ritter, Frank Dukes, & Mike Dean
The second song is an autobiographical tale of what he and his guest went through to make it to the other side of the music business from fan to artist. If they want to sing, they should have just sang and left the Auto-Tune alone. Overall, an okay song.

3. 3500
Featuring Future & 2 Chainz; Produced by Metro Boomin’, Mike Dean, Million $ Mano, Zaytoven, & Allen Ritter
2 Chainz! That’s all I got to say and all you need to hear:

My bathtub the size of swimming pools
Backstroke to my children room
Maybach in the living room
I spent racks on these tennis shoes
N!##@s know what I’m finna do
Time for me to put the mink up
Forgiattos on the Brinks truck
My favorite rapper drove a pink truck
I do shit that you dreamed of
I was born with a mean mug
I was born with some nappy hair
Drinkin’ breast milk out a lean cup
Tity Boi’s my alias
Real n!##@s my radius
Trill n!##@s on the song with me
If she bad as hell I’ll pay the babysitter
In a black Mercedes with her
Doin’ about 180 with her
I was born a hustler, paraphernalia in my baby pictures
Resident all eloquent, leather shit in my front yard
TV by my swimming pool, got that built like a sports bar
Chevelle with a new motor, got the bitch like a sports car
Yeah, my name is Tity Boi, I don’t fuck with hoes that wear sports bras
Crib bigger than your imagination
Call the trap house the gas station
Call momma’s house the Jag station
Emoji, sad faces
Look at these n!##@s
I need to buy pocketbooks for these n!##@s

This was the first single from the album, but didn’t become a big hit on radio. The beat fits with contemporary radio, why it didn’t reach higher than #82 on Billboard’s Hot 100 is strange to me seeing that Future, one of the biggest artists in Hip-Hop right now, is featured as well. We can all agree that there is no reason for the runtime to be more than 5 minutes as the song concludes at 7:43.

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4. Wasted
Featuring Juicy J; Produced by Metro Boomin’, Frank Dukes, & Mike Dean
When I first started listening to Travis Scott, I described him as a reincarnation of SpaceGhostPurrp. Both are obsessed with the color black, have a dedicated fan base for no apparent reason rapping skill wise, and produce music in the style of 90’s Three 6 Mafia’s dark undertones. I’m surprised Juicy J doesn’t have a production credit on this, but I’m happy he doesn’t. With this song and his work on Rocky’s “Wavybone”, I was afraid he was using going to use Pimp C vocals like Swizz Beatz was using Jay-Z vocals years ago on “Bring Em Out” and “I’m A Hustla”. Chad Butler’s vocals from “Havin’ Thangs 06” find their way onto a song about having one too many drinks. I think they fit the beat which could tear the club up, but I don’t think they compliment the song topic. Like “3500,” you’re not missing anything if you skip Travis Scott’s part.

Is you wasted baby?
One shot, two shots and you still talking crazy
3 shots and you faded
Freaks coming out at night and they game X rated
4 shots now she wanna do the clique
Any more shots she ain’t gon’ remember shit
Smoking on extendos, no clips
Project hoes going up in the Ritz
She gon’ do it for a G anything for me bro
She just wanna fucking drink and chief all the weed up
Sexy bitch pop that pussy cause you in your prime
Pour that purple over ice call it turtle time
Shawty never been a hesitator
Got her going down on the elevator
Hear that pussy bomb, I’ma detonate her
Fuck her from the back, keep the neck for later
No magic trick but I levitate her
With the magic stick. nothing less than great
When I hit her with the dope D I’m gone
Don’t text me later, no extra favors

Bruh, “The pussy bomb, I’ma detonate her”? Oh Juicy J, will you ever stop? Will you ever fall off? Probably not.

5. 90210
Produced by DJ Dahi, Allen Ritter, Mike Dean, & Wondagurl
Named after the famous Beverly Hills zip code, this track is a tale of a young lady that has caught our star’s attention venturing from the valley into a life of porn. Kaci Hill provides the background vocals that compliment the production very nicely. For the second half of the song, the beat switches from 808’s and Heartbreaks to College Dropout and we shift the focus into the mind of a reflective La Flame detailing how his life has become different since his immersion into 90210 from the 713 area of Texas.

My granny called, she said “Travy, you work too hard
I’m worried you’ll forget about me”
I’m falling in and out of cuffs, don’t worry, I’ma get it, granny
What happened? Now my daddy happy, mama called me up
That money coming and she love me, I done made it now
I done found life’s meaning now
All them days her heart’d break, her heart not in pieces now
Friends turning into fraud n!##@s

That money coming and she love me, I done made it now
I done found life’s meaning now
All them days her heart’d break, her heart not in pieces now
Friends turning into fraud n!##@s
Practicing, have the passion, you niggas packaged different
All you n!##@s, you n!##@s want, that’s why you can’t have it
I’ma sell it, you n!##@s salad, we ’bout the cabbage
Youngest n!##@a outta Houston at the Grammys
Smiling at ’em laughing at me….

I think this is one of the moments where you understand the context of the title Rodeo. Things are becoming wild as he tries to stay on top of a wild animal known as fame. When he is focused and concentrating, he is able to stay on top and ride.

6. Pray 4 Love
Featuring The Weeknd; Produced by Illangelo, Ben Billions, The Weeknd, Mike Dean, & Allen Ritter
The world is cold. There is no humanity; we are only individuals coexisting in large areas until time runs out. This is a nice departure toward a more serious subject matter than what we have been subjected to from La Flame except there is one thing that keeps him from getting all the credit. The Weeknd. Kills. This. Song. In unusual fashion, Mr. XO decides to let the main artist go first this time and finishes the song with his guest feature.

Underrated is an understatement
They tryin’ to test greatness, a nigga tryna get paid
These niggas fiends watchin’ all of my moves
Cause the music like crack, got me cookin’ all day
I’m right here, you know where I stay
And if you don’t, then ask your girl, she probably know the way
She like my show lights, she want to be wife
She know that if she got me that she gon’ be good for life
So I pull out ‘fore the climax
Faster than a hi-hat, sorry baby, I don’t play
And if I did, you know my kids would be ballin’
And my daughter gon’ never meet a n!gg@ like me
My n!gg@s pull up in that Rolls-Royce
Like they sell that coke boy, shout out to the Coke Boys
They never pray for us, nobody pray for us
Nobody pray, no, no, no, no, no

The guest feature was a good choice on Travis’ part, but you don’t try to out dark the king of dark notions.

7. Nightcrawler
Featuring Swae Lee & Chief Keef; Produced by Metro Boomin’, Southside, TM88, Mike Dean, & Allen Ritter
Why can’t he get all the members of the group on songs? Previously, we were only treated to Quavo of Migos, now we only get one half of Rae Sremmurd, it’s not like when you couldn’t get Pimp C or Andre 3000 on your song or is it? Let me find out the other members of Ear Drummers spelled backwards and Long Hair Don’t Care passed on these features. Anyway, we get more Auto-Tune! It kind of works here because they’re not being serious at all, it’s a song about enjoying the nightlife. I never understand what Chief Keef is saying so the Auto-Tune is not deterring me from enjoying his verse. Sosa’s flow is the highlight of the song along with the chorus.

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8. Piss On Your Grave
Featuring Kanye West, Produced by Kanye West, Charlie Heat, Noah Goldstein, Mike Dean, Darren Charles King, & Travis Scott
With a runtime under three minutes, the Kanye/Travis “collaboration” feels more like an interlude. The production is reminiscent of Yeezus. It shares the same rock music characteristics of “Black Skinhead”, unfortunately, there is nothing going on besides rhyming “urinal” and “funeral.” Kanye’s contribution continues his streak of underwhelming guest features this year a la A$AP Rocky’s “Jukebox Joints” and Vic Mensa’s “U Mad”. #KanyeShrug

9. Antidote
Produced by Wondagurl & Bryan “Eestbound” Mierlo
This song wasn’t supposed to be on the album. Released as a loosie on his Soundcloud before Rodeo, but thanks to it’s popularity, the Wondagurl produced song found a home on the final tracklisting. Honestly, this is the first solo song from Travis Scott I can enjoy repeatedly. It reminds of Kid Cudi, B.o.B, or Drake’s early style of singing for two verses and then rapping the final verse of the song.

Stackin’ up day to day
Young n!##a you know you gotta go get it, go get it, my n!##a
They hatin’, they stinkin’, they waitin’
Don’t be mistaken, we dyin’, they stayin’
Lord I’m on fire they think that I’m Satan
Callin’ me crazy on different occasions
Kickin’ the cameraman off of my stages
Cause I don’t like how he snappin’ my angles
I’m overboard and I’m over-impatient
Over my n!##as and these kids my ages
Dealin’ with Mo’ shit that’s more complicated
Like these two b!tc#es that might be related
H-Town, you got one and you Bun B like a number one
It’s late night, got a late show
If you wanna roll, I got a place where…

An entire verse from the Houston rapper I actually enjoyed? Wow. It also helped that he explained one of his most known outburst that took place on Hot 97’s Summer Jam Festival stage back in June with a response that could’ve came from Kanye.

10. Impossible
Produced by Allen Ritter & Mike Dean
Skip if you want or just let the song play and ignore it. This song is really forgetful. It just gave me time to think about where we are in the storytelling of the album, no thanks to T.I., whose descriptions are way too abstract to help. My own assessment of the situation is starting with “3500,” he’s able to afford items with large price tags. “90210” has him in a different environment he’s only seen on TV. On “Wasted”, “Antidote”, and “Night Call”, he’s enjoying the flashy items that Frank tried to warn Tony about in Scarface. The warning gets through to him on “Pray 4 Love” and I bet that “Piss On Your Grave” is the rebellion against the suits that want to change him into something he’s not. That’s for people that have been enjoying the production more than everything else; now back to the review.

11. Maria I’m Drunk
Featuring Justin Beiber & Young Thug; Produced by Frank Dukes, Allen Ritter, Bidaye, & Mike Dean
I guess this is the last hood rat thing Justin Beiber does with his rapper friends before getting back to his good boy persona, if so, it’s a good way to go out. I would give the honor of best performance on this song to Young Thug but, I might be bias because his verse is unpredictably timely with a cultural reference.

Big blood like Freddy in dreams

R.I.P WES CRAVEN!

Very weird list of collaborators, but the song works. People will be singing, “Call your friends and let’s get drunk” this cuffing season.

12. Flying High
Featuring Toro y Moi; Produced by Pharrell Williams & Allen Ritter
What is this? The entire album has had a dark and brooding cloud surrounding it, this is a bright light shining in my face. I don’t understand why or who thought this was a good idea for this song to be on the album. Were they afraid to ask Pharell for something dark? Pharell makes incredible music that could have not only fit the album better, but been the centerpiece. We just had a song about calling a girl while drunk and a song about being wasted. A song about being high is unnecessary. SKIP!

13. I Can Tell
Produced Allen Ritter, FKi, & Mike Dean
After that the last song’s misstep, we get back on track sonically. Except for the line: “504 hot boys, minus the bad rap like Silk The Shocker”. Y’all ain’t missing nothing. SKIP!

14. Apple Pie
Produced by Travis Scott,Mike Dean, Terrace Martin, & 1500 or Nothin’
Final song on the album gets a little serious with its subject matter, but has the correct level of uptempo to stand out from the rest of the album and still fit the concept. Even with all the temptations, pitfalls, and obstacles, clarity emerges to steer our young cowboy back to his main focus.

Travis is out for a piece of success. It’s kind of weird for him to compare himself to Bun B for making it out of Houston since the living legend of UGK is from Port Arthur. I let it slide the first time on “Antidote”, but here it’s weird to hear since there is a long list of Houston rappers he could’ve named. With that error aside, this is one of my favorite songs, Auto-Tune and all. His honesty in not being happy settling for a share of someone else’s success is a small indicator of why people connect with him and his music. T.I. and Kanye West taught him well.

Look bitch, this the rodeo, but I ain’t going out for your bulls#it.

*Slow clap and point at Travis Scott while nodding my head, “yes”* It took 14 tracks for me to finally hear a standout line from the main voice on the album and it was almost worth it.

BOTTOM LINE

Remember when I said that Mr. Scott was a reincarnation of SpaceGhostPurrp? After listening to Rodeo, I now think of him as a less lyrical version of A$AP Rocky or a less entertaining version of Rae Sremmurd. His debut album is background music. I can enjoy it without giving it my full attention. Rodeo will be the soundtrack for 20 year olds’ nights of debauchery for the next few months.

Travis Scott is a great producer and should leave rapping alone. This is what I said about in the past when I first heard Owl Pharoah. I played “Drive” with James Fauntleroy repeatedly, only for the production and Fauntleroy’s vocals. The tracklisting has Scott’s name in the production credit for only 3 songs, but I believe he has tailor made a sound for himself besides the mistake of “Flying High” that made the album enjoyable. I think he should executive produce other young artists’ albums (Notice how I said young, he should stay away from Kanye’s next album if he had a hand in “All Day”.) instead of doing guest feature.

Travis Scott can make good songs, but he is not that memorable. I remember lines from Juicy J, 2 Chainz, Young Thug, and Chief Keef on this project. Chief Keef! The Weeknd even killed him on his own song. I think the project’s concept is structured well in telling the saga of a young man coming from nothing making something out of himself and admitting that there are moments where he could fall, but remains on top to continue to ride the wave. Unfortunately, there are some people that can ride bulls, some that can ride wild horses, and then you have the ones that protect those riders from getting injured. In the tiers of Hip-Hop, Travis falls into the last tier.

STRAIGHT UP!

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