Houston local Jacques Webster recently dropped his debut album, Rodeo, under his more commonly known stage name, Travi$ Scott. Previously generating hype with his first and second mixtape, Owl Pharaoh and Days Before Rodeo, hip-hop heads everywhere were hungry for more Travi$. With help from Kanye West, Owl Pharaoh made powerful waves in the underground scene with the mixtape having features from big names such as Meek Mill, Toro y Moi, 2chainz and more.
In 2013, he was awarded a spot on the XXL Freshman Class, something given to the most fresh and talented up and coming hip-hop artists; as well as a BET nomination for Best Mixtape for Owl Pharaoh, however, he was beaten by Big Sean’s Detroit. In 2014, Scott performed a single called “Don’t Play,” a song from his second mixtape that features Big Sean and The 1975 at one of his concerts and to say the least, the crowd lost their minds. Speculation began to grow as to what he was planning to drop after Owl Pharaoh and he did not let down. Days Before Rodeo’s title seemed ominous, as it was the precurosr to this year’s full-length debut. Regardless, Scott proved his eye for production and features with such singles like Mamacita featuring Young Thug & Rich Homie Quan, The Prayer, and Sloppy Toppy featuring Migos & Peewee Longway. Even if you think you haven’t heard Travi$ Scott, you more than likely have. He had two features on Drake’s billboard-smashing “mixtape” If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, was all over GOOD Music’s album Cruel Summer and Yeezus – and even was a co-writer on Rihanna’s newest single “B**** Better Have My Money.”
The opening of Rodeo starts off like something from Kid Cudi’s Man On the Moon, a monologue given by T.I., allowing you a proper introduction to the album and into Scott’s own mind. Already from the beginning, you can sense a confidence in young Travi$ Scott’s voice. While many may claim Scott’s flow to be very reminiscent of Kanye West’s, it still has this raw power that only Scott is capable of bringing out with his original voice. Plus, I’m sure if Ye took me under his wing, I’d take a great amount of influence from him too. The diversity of Travi$ Scott is very easily shown within the songs themselves and how he allows himself to spit a verse with a voice that is on the prowl, hungry for whoever is willing to step to the plate of a feature and then provide a melodic, auto-tuned hook that everyone can vibe to. Diversity is also shown plenty from the features that he decided to put on this album. Justin Bieber, Young Thug, Kanye West, Quavo (of Migos), 2 Chainz, Juicy J, The Weeknd and Toro y Moi all make an appearance onto Rodeo providing an intriguing blend of artists who hop onto the album’s complex mixture of beats.
When I think of Travi$ Scott, one of the first things that comes to mind is “aesthetic.” At the mere age of 23, Scott has managed to have a genius and original grasp on both style and what it means to be yourself. Adorning gold grills, braids and a vintage metal shirt of the band Exodus, the Owl Pharaoh himself is able to have a style that is up to par with even hip-hop’s best dressed, such as A$AP Rocky, Kanye West and Vic Mensa. This style bleeds into his music and truly shines with his wild production and switch-ups that will keep you listening. Songs like “3500,” “Night Call” featuring Swae Lee & Chief Keef, and “Antidote” will most likely be party-anthems in the months to come while there are also songs like “90210”, and “Pray 4 Love” featuring The Weeknd, where La Flame spits the truth in the key of Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak – this album will make you experience a handful of different vibes, all thoroughly enjoyable and just different enough to where you will not be tired. “Night Call” acts as a great halfway point for the album’s run-time. Next, “P*** on Your Grave” features Kanye West busts through the door like something out of a Wild West film. With a guitar shredding (most likely attributed to Paul McCartney) over blues-oriented drums as an opener, Ye steps in seemingly out of nowhere to give a powerful opening verse. Prior to hearing this album I heard several mixed reviews about this song and upon first impression I was floored. While the hook itself is repetetive, “p*** on your grave, p*** on your grave,” this is one of the best beats I’ve heard from Kanye (who has rarely ever let down on production) in a while. I heard someone describe this song as “rock star music” and I would certainly agree. The energy of this album seems to crescendo on this track and hardly lets up after.
After several listens, it becomes clear what the main faults in this album are. Though they are small, they still manage to take away from what could have been an absolute gem of an album. Lyrically, La Flame was never anything incredible and it still manages to show, with seemingly no improvement from his previous tapes. Thankfully, his extremely clever songwriting quickly makes up for the tracks his sub-par lyricism left. Though some of the songs haven’t fully clicked with me yet, I’m expecting them to gain more love for fans sometime soon. I originally hated ‘Antidote’, one of the earliest singles off this album and within the past couple weeks, it finally clicked. It is becoming my number one most-bumped track on the album. Some songs are a minute or two more than what is necessary, yet the majority of the tracks here barely feel as long their run-times really are with the energy both he and his features have. Downsides aside, Travi$ Scott manages to hit so many different aspects of modern hip-hop, blending them all into an album most casual hip-hop fans would love and truly managed to live up to the hype brought on with Days Before Rodeo. He is easily one of the best faces in hip-hop right now and I know he will be absolutely blowing up in the years to come, hopefully showing more growth with his lyrics and getting a hand from Kanye and more of hip-hop’s finest.
Standout Tracks: ‘3500” feat. T.I and 2 Chainz, “Pray 4 Love” feat. The Weeknd, “P*** on Your Grave” feat. Kanye West, “Maria I’m Drunk” feat. Young Thug and Justin Bieber, “Antidote,” “I Can Tell,” “90210”
Rating: 7.7 / 10
Zach Ritz is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at ZR812833@wcupa.edu.