During the mid-2000s, Houston’s chopped-and-screwed sound flooded the market with credit to the likes of Paul Wall and Slim Thug. Rap welterweights Drake, A$AP Rocky and Future have all taken cues from the South, to name a few. Enter H-tine native Travi$ Scott who has jumped into the hip-hop ring with a slightly different breed of trap-rap. On Friday (Sept. 4), the Owl Pharaoh rapper dropped his long-awaited debut album Rodeo. Equipped with an action figure version of himself on the cover and Auto-Tune, Scott hopes you can smell what he’s cooking.
Keeping the same momentum from his 2014 mixtape, Days Before Rodeo, Scott (also a G.O.O.D. Music/ Grand Hustle associate) commenced his rodeo ride with the same energetic fire he’s sustained throughout his career. The hybrid rapper-beatmaker also managed to phone a diverse list of producers for an alley oop including Pharrell Williams, Sonny Digital, Metro Boomin’ and G.O.O.D. boss, Kanye West, that sonically mesh with his scattered format of songs. It’s no surprise that Scott employs a switch-up in tempo midway through majority of his tracks (See: album opener “Pornography”).
Dig deeper, though, and his lyrical content about partying, pill-popping, lean-sipping and struggle are filled with substance. After a verbose introduction by T.I., La Flame’s spark instantly ignites. On the No. 2 track and Quavo-assisted “Oh My Dis Side,” Travi$ trades bars with the Migos rep over Mike Dean and Frank Dukes’ backdrop (honorable mention to Allen Ritter for the second half) about rising from the mud to garnering a record deal. The 16-track project is marked by a slew of high moments (drug pun intended). On “90210,” featuring fellow G.O.O.D Music crooner Kacy Hill, Scott sounds like Kanye Jr. while also exposing his talent for storytelling. Over addictive piano riffs, entrancing guitar strings and Drake-esque recordings of women speaking to him, he raps about a Hollywood porn star that’s hooked on drugs before spitting bars about his self-induced habit. Once a more uptempo melody fit for a cruise down Rodeo Drive sets in, he offers small peepholes into his personal life, a story that’s still somewhat unclear.
Travi$ continues his favorite brand of sonically dark trap with The Weeknd-assisted “Pray 4 Love.” Here, he @’s God in memory of his angels and demons. The wrestling Stan isn’t exactly a lyrical monster but he’s managed to lock in a flow that fits his turnt lifestyle or even help him cope with his depression. He slightly touches on social ills, too, by rapping, “I’m tired of seeing these black kids on the face of FOX/And f**k CNN they don’t want to see us win.”
The 23-year-old wild boy is still a freshman visionary when it comes to tagteaming with other artists. ScHoolboy Q’s gritty L.A. snarls find a home on “Ok Alright” while Scott’s surprise collaboration with Justin Bieber and Young Thug for “Maria, I’m Drunk” serves as a trap ballad that looks weird on paper but strangely pleases the ears. Based on the dialogue in his bangers chock full of intoxication and short temper, the album version matches the IRL profile of the dude in the media who lunges at fans who mistake him for A$AP Rocky. Still, the feeling-unpretty motherf*cker leaves listeners with some unanswered questions: What was his childhood like? What’s at the root of his hotheadedness? After the turn-up ends, what’s left? A more introspective look into Scott as the troubled man he seems to be would bode well with his gloomy selection of beats. Scott raps like he’s in a cage match with himself. Hopefully, he sets himself free.
Cop Travi$ Scott’s Rodeo on iTunes here.