Gather Round’ for the Rodeo

By Joseph Khaleel Ali

Typically to become a successful artist in the music industry, it takes years and years of grinding to just even solidify a fan base, let a long become a well-known name. Others just seem to be blessed with good fortune. The later is the case for 23 year old Houston native Travi$ Scott.

Deadspin took an unnecessarily scathing tone in explaining Scott’s bizarre rise, and similarities to other MCs (claiming he “bites” a lot of his style and flow), but it really is a strange, extravagant tale.  Scott was your ordinary college sophomore, attending the University of Texas, getting money from his mom for books and food.

Instead of spending his money wisely as his mom advised, Scott deuced out to New York City to support himself while he tried to breakthrough with his music career.

From Houston to New York to L.A. attempting to scrap together any industry connects he knew, while at the same time couch surfing at each stop to even sleeping in his friend’s car.

It’s typically not a good idea to defraud your parents, but for Scott it worked out tremendously, and fast. Through his many stops, Scott was able to catch the attention of 2020 (hopeful) presidential candidate Kanye West and T.I, who’d eventually slot him into the Grand Hustle Records imprint.

He’d also end up getting a production deal with ‘Ye, to work on GOOD Music’s first album Cruel Summer, and shortly after hop in on the highly acclaimed Yeezus sessions, where he’s credited all over the album as both a writer and producer.  Keep in mind Scott was a virtual unknown while all this was going on.

Travi-Scott

While Scott himself even gives very vague answers about his vague arrival, it’s hard to deny the pure raw talent that landed him a deal with two major artists who already solidified their name in the game.  Fast-forward a couple of years and the rapper known, as LA FLAME is ready to drop his debut album Rodeo.

His debut album is a testament to his far-reaching industry grip, as the guests’ features and production credits consist of nothing but artists charting on Billboard.  

Kanye West, Future, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, Swae Lee (of Rae Sremmurd), Chief Keef, The Weeknd, and even more who are particular hand picked to fit the sound of the album. Believe it or not the Biebs even drops a verse. ( I hate that I’m even saying this but I found myself bobbing my head as he rapped. It was honestly pretty smooth)

Roughly around a year from releasing his second EP Days Before Rodeo, you can quickly notice that Scott is attempting somewhat of a new sound with Rodeo. With Days Before Rodeo, Scott takes a very dark approach, where you hear his drawled out crooning auto- tune rapping over sporadic 808 bass knocking beats. While constantly yelling his characteristic ad-libs LA FLAME and STRAIGHT UP!

With Rodeo there is a clear defined theme where Scott takes you down the road of, trying to master an out of control life, filled with sleepless nights and endless rage. This is truly Scott’s lifestyle. Hell, just take a look at the album art.

It’s literally a life sized action figure replica of Travi$ himself.  If anything to get a gage of Scotts’ wildness, just take a look at one of his performances.

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His set at Lollapalooza this past month lasted all but five minutes, when he demanded the festival audience to rush the security and dismantle the barricade. This got him pulled off the stage and arrested immediately.

What’s interesting about the album is that even though he takes us through the late night turn up, it’s all done over bass wobbles and plangent pianos and synth-churns. It’s very melodic.  

Artists for years now have used auto-tune to distort their hooks, but few use the technology as well as Scott. Don’t be fooled though, as Scott synthesizes through tracks, he’ll switch up halfway and hit you with a stunningly ferocious rapped verse catching listeners off guard.  

This technique is employed perfectly on tracks “90210”, “Pornography” and especially “Antidote” which was a popular single released before the album.

What concerns me not only about the album, but Scott, as an artist is the lack of lyricism that is presented on some tracks. There are only a few lines throughout the whole album that truly jumped out at me, and those were just lines that included dope wordplay.

Overall, Scott’s lyrics really have no substance whatsoever. Yeah it’s cool to rap about living the lifestyle of partying till sunrise, and the ‘countless number of women you courted’ the night before, but when it’s done track after track, the material gets stale at a point.

The super star guest list is seen as a gift, but it’s more of curse when you constantly get out rapped on your own tracks.

We’ve seen proof that you don’t necessarily have to be a great rapper to make a great rap album, and Scott proves this again with his debut album.  Rodeo is simply a wild ride, non-stop look into the dark mind of an artist seemingly on the brink of breaking.

It was just a little upsetting seeing Scott not reach his full potential as an artist, with such a spectacular platform at hand. Either way it goes though, I’m still going to enjoy the Rodeo.

Rating: 7.6/10

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