Travis Scott ‘Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight’ Review

“Dropped the ‘Rodeo’ I dodged the bull like ole” Scott raps on one of the early standout tracks on ‘Mcknight’, a fitting line as now he is getting adjusted to stardom after years of hard work, dedication and ‘bull’. ‘Rodeo’, Travis’ 2015 debut album, plays as an autobiographical journey from rags to riches heavily influenced by the pressures and plight of any enduring up and coming independent artist. Most artists debut albums play as a catharsis of their complete life journey up until that point, and then the sophomore release displays only the emotions and trials in the time between. ‘Rodeo’ was a young Scott trying to make it in the world, a picture of his fears, goals, failures and triumphs up until actually fulfilling his dreams. ‘Birds’ finds itself in a strange place, the angst and frustration that lead to Travis’ socially awkward but sonically and artistically phenomenal product has subsided due to his success.

Scott’s pop sensibilities however remain sharp as ever, the diversity in sonic pallets has constricted but he pinpoints on the natural catchiness previously displayed on his debut and zeros in on the dark ominous anti-song-sound that has become his staple. Melodies are made mostly by repetition of ambient sounds and distorted basslines with bent 808 kicks, all with Scott’s keen, and evolved, sense of song structure and choruses. ‘SDP interlude’ is a prime example, here he sheds all other song elements simply for a hypnotic hook which hovers over a minimal synth bassline and a looped vocal sample. Ironically Scott admits to not doing any hard drugs and rarely drinking or even smoking, he regardless is able to tap into the current ethos and nail the vibe and mind state of the masses, one of the only traits that carried over into ‘Mcknight’ from ‘Rodeo’.

‘Birds’ boast a strong line up of guest stars, still eclectic Scott gives us an Andre 3000 feature along side the likes of Hip Hop newcomers Bryson Tiller and 21 Savage a range most artists could not successfully pull off. ‘Goosebumps’ features a song structure that’s only strange once read on paper, choruses and verses blend together to create an intoxicating track that’s only amplified once heavy weight Kendrick Lamar appears. ‘Pick Up The Phone’ and ‘Way Back’ also feature Scott’s signature expanded sound with extra instrumentation added and minimalist solos subtlety take the listener to new heights during both songs outros. Rightfully so none of the tracks list the featured artists (except ‘Phone’ with Young Thug) as Travis explains that he looks at each guest verse as a sample rather than a feature, just another element he adds to his music like the live instrumentation hes known for on the production side. In comparison to ‘Rodeo’ ‘McKnight’ lacks wide content and a diverse sonic landscape but it makes up for these changes with a more focused sound and a more honed game plan: Get The Vibe Right, and as Scott says “they can’t kill the vibe it’s immortal”

 

Rating: 6.7/10

Travis Scott ‘Rodeo’ Album Review

Rodeo is a true journey not only musically but it is the sonic metaphor for Scott’s leap of faith and subsequent rise to stardom. Southern Hip-Hop king and label boss T.I. narrates the entire album and concludes the opening track ‘Pornography” with  the line “La Flame says let your ambition carry you” this can be seen as Travis Scott’s mission statement.

Rodeo plays as a dark rebellious nihilistic anti-establishment opus. It’s no surprise that Scott lists deceased Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious as an inspiration to his style and persona, many themes on the album touch on sex, drugs and Rock & Roll. Rodeo comes off very Punk for a major label  commercial Hip-Hop release. Even musical heavy weight Kanye West stops by to show his rebel side and voice his frustrations further on “Piss On Your Grave” La Flame showcases his broad musical palette as well sampling the late great Jimi Hendrix’s  most notoriously rebellious anti-establishment anti-war track “Machine Gun” from his last band and album Band OF Gypsys. Subtle musical touches flesh the album out and take it further than the releases of his peers. The additional stadium-Rock 80’s electric guitar on single “3500”, a song which boasts one of 2 Chainz hardest verses and another hard hitting introspective verse from Future, takes the otherwise standard song to new heights along with it’s unconventional long length.

La Flame rarely keeps the beats in one place, placing many departures and complete 180 beat switch ups mid-song.  His eclectic taste in soundscapes also spills over into features as he has Hip-Hop’s most eccentric trap star Young Thug and worldwide pop sensation Justin Bieber trading verses on the same track.  ‘Pray 4 Love’ and ‘Flying High’ are the only glimpses of light in this grim tale Scott has weaved together. Travis has mastered the art of walking the line between styles, at times rapping songs with complete non-stop hooks and at others switching immediately to your standard live-in-the-radio-studio- 16’s. The only notable surprise is the fact that Scott, an artist who for most people is known for his beat-making and production on Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” , didn’t do any of the beats on his debut. Perhaps Scott is waiting  til his next journey, as T.I. says to conclude the project “Will he make it? Was it worth it ? Did he win? Will he survive? ..The Rodeo”

 

Rating 8.1/10

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