I have mixed feeling about Travis Scott. I remember hearing him on Cruel Summer tracks like Sin City, where he has both a verse and production credit, and thinking ‘This guy sounds cool. I’d love to hear more.’ Fast forward to 2015 because I slept on Owl Pharaoh and Days Before Rodeo and I hear some tracks off of Rodeo. I fell in love with that album – it’s still frequently in my rotation.
As I do with any new artist I like, I started to read whatever I could about Travis Scott to try and understand where his roots were planted and how they had grown ever since. His come up story was great; he put out the video for Lights (Love Sick) and had just landed when he saw he had texts from T.I.’s camp inviting him to the studio. He then signed as a producer for G.O.O.D. Music and claimed Kanye helped him release Owl Pharaoh. He claimed Kanye helped him make beats for the album which is entirely possible but also very unlikely as Kanye was doing the whole becoming a father thing back then along with prepping to release Yeezus. The world may never know for sure but Travis does have an alleged history of stealing other peoples’ work.
His go to ad libs aren’t even original: ‘Straight Up’ is something Future used first on a track called… well, Straight Up. The other one is from Gucci; La Flame is one letter off from La Flare. You do the math.
One part of being a fan in this day and age is being able to separate the artist from the persona. i.e a Kanye figure. As long as our generation is okay with lyrically sparse club bangers that make us feel a certain way I guess the Travis Scott’s and Young Thug’s will continue to be successful. Let’s get onto the music.
the ends – Prod by Evian Christ, OZ, Vinylz, Daxz, and WondaGurl
Travis says his original intention was to have Andre 3000 narrate the album similar to how T.I. did for Rodeo but when Andre presented him with a verse he didn’t question anything.
Andre outshines Travis but what else do you expect when you put one of rap’s GOATs on your intro track? To be fair only one person has managed to stay in the spotlight on their own track rather than forfeit it to a featured Andre – Kanye. On 30 Hours Kanye only has Andre singing on the outro. If there was ever a verse recorded to be added onto the track the world may never know. As always, the beat selection is great but the lyrics are pretty shallow. For a verse where you claim ‘this might be the verse that make ’em drop me’ you better drop some real bombs. Alas, no bombs were dropped.
Best part – Andre’s verse
way back – Prod by Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E., Chahayed, Mike Dean, Rogét Chahayed, Cashmere Cat, and Hit-Boy
The transition from the end of the last track into the beginning of this one is pretty smooth. Props there for sure. This opens up with a warm and familiar voice – Kid Cudi! Cudi doesn’t add much more than ambient moans (which is okay) so instead we get Travis doing most of the work. The lyricism follows the last song in that Travis touches upon some cool descriptive imagery and possibly deep subject matter but he never pursues it. I don’t think I’ll need to point this out on the rest of the album but it is important to note that it’s part of Travis Scott as an artist.
We get a few ‘firsts’ on this track; a signature Travis beat change and a Mike Dean guitar solo.
Best part – Travis’s flow on the track and the beat change towards the end. Beat changes are a brilliant way to introduce otherwise unfinished ideas that may not contribute anything to an album on their own. Tacked onto the end of a song they feel much more natural.
coordinate – Prod by CuBeatz & TM88
A nice motivational intro from Blac Youngsta leads into a pretty chill beat that seems to sample Bossed Up by Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa heavily. Hmm. No beat jacking as TM88 produced the other track and is listed a producer here but still, -5 for lack of originality. Still can’t help but bob my head to the beat.
Fantano rags on travis for his mumble rap hook but I can’t front – it actually sounds good! Travis’s flow sounds very similar to Drake’s on Cameras…
Best part – This video of Lebron jamming out to the song in his car.
through the late nite – Prod by CuBeatz and Cardo
Here it is boys and girls; the track featuring jedi master and young padawan. Can’t beat that classic Cudi moan.
Cudi takes the cake here by singing the intro, hook, AND the first verse! Things get acceptably weird on this track as Cudi raps the chemical names for DMT and LSD. The track continues with both of these melody cowboys singing the hook together and Travis interpolating Day ‘N’ Nite. He keeps it plenty weird when he raps ‘Stroke my cactus’. Like father like son I guess.
Best part – Cudi and Scott just having fun with it.
biebs in the trap – Prod by NAV
I posted about this video earlier so I’m glad we get to revisit the actual song. This song is an ode to cocaine. Not too much deeper than that.
NAV is an up and coming Toronto based rapper/producer. He’s a little under the radar right now in terms of who he’s affiliated with but all that matters is he’s doing well. This track bangs and accentuates the styles of both artists.
Best part – The wacky line from Travis ‘Tryna’ text my accountant//Ain’t no service in the mountains.’ Is he hiking? or camping? Insider trading?? WHY ARE YOU IN THE MOUNTAINS?! (I know it’s probably about living in the hills)
sdp interlude – Prod by Ricci Riera
For a guy that says he rarely drinks or does drugs here we are with a song in which the only lyrics are ‘Smoke some, drink some, pop one.’ The beat is cool tho as it samples Washed Out’s You and I and interpolates Madonna’s Lucky Star. I think this track would do better as an interlude if it were a few songs deeper into the album.
sweet sweet – Prod by Mike Dean, WondaGurl, CuBeatz, and Murda
A song about Travis having girl problems and the girl in question has a drug problem? Really minimalistic beat here that sounds very Mike Dean influenced given the synths and the guitar outro. Following the interlude track this one feels sleepy.
outside – Prod by Travis Scott, Nisi, OZ, and Murda
Travis collabs with 21 Savage on this one about being one of the boys and causing trouble. The beat reminds me of Pick Up the Phone with the island-esque steel drums. 21’s verse is actually pretty good and fun. He even plugs himself with the ’10 bad bitches’ line. Nice to feel the album pace pick up a little bit.
goosebumps – Prod by Yung Exclusive, CuBeatz, and Cardo
Probably my favorite track off this album and we still have 5 more to go! The beat is dark and eerie – really feels like a classic Travis song. Once the drums come in the whole thing really bangs. Sliding 808’s in the background add to the ambience along with Travis’s ethereal chanting. But we can’t show any disrespek to the feature on here..
K-Dot comes in HOT. We get classic conscious Kendrick with the wordplay and multiple personalities/voices. Hearing him over trap beats is a rare treat as he’s taken a jazzier route lately.
best part – Kendrick’s verse easily. This live version he did is also definitely worth watching.
first take – Prod by Mel&Mus, Illa Jones, TEAUXNY, and Sy Ari da Kid
Gotta be honest I thought this was Chris Brown when I first heard it… This song serves as a great segue into Pick Up the Phone.
We get a cute ballad from Travis – seemingly the most emotion on a track this album besides the bromance track with Cudi. Pretty mature to say ‘Just let our love run it’s course’. Bryson Tiller’s voice adds a layer of buttery smoothness to this track as well.
Pick Up the Phone – Prod by Frank Dukes and Vinylz
Oddly enough this is the only song off the album with the title capitalized. Just an observation. Maybe something to do with Thugger.
This song bumps and was one of the leading singles for BITTSM. Steel drums on a trap beat seem to work here while Thugger, Travis, and Quavo trade verses about a girl who well, isn’t picking up the phone. The outro screams over-produced Mike Dean but it works in a weird way.
Some background on this track;
– it was featured on both Young Thug’s JEFFREY and Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight
– the name of the album apparently came from Quavo’s line ‘birds in the trap sing Brian McKnight’
– Travis put this up on his SC but was forced by his labels to take it down. Labels are evil.
lose – Prod by Mike Dean, Frank Dukes, Allen Ritter, and Vinylz
A pretty chill beat over which Cassie joins Travis as they sing about a luxurious lifestyle and insecurity about losing it all. The hook is about how Travis is steady with his crew but his girl’s not about it. There were some rumors about bad girl RiRi being on the track but being replaced after their romance fizzled out.
guidance – Prod by DF
..speaking of bad girl RiRi we get Travis’s attempt at a dancehall beat. It seems like once Drake did it everyone else had to? Or maybe this is him working through a possible Rihanna break up? Either way it’s not my favorite track but the melodies are good and it’s slightly catchy.
wonderful – Prod by T-Minus, Travis Scott, Boi-1da, and Mike Dean
Throwing this on the end of the album was the equivalent of writing the same paragraph twice on a school essay because you have to meet the minimum word count.
This was really new and interesting when it first came out but since it’s been nearly a year I don’t see the relevance of adding it as the bookend on this project. The weekend’s part was originally just Travis on an old soundcloud version but it looks like he wanted to add just one more feature. Not a very strong ending for me.
I like Travis Scott, the artist. Rodeo was great but I think that Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight trails behind it. Yes there are A-list features all up and down the album but I failed to see any risks taken or and paths paved further. Travis played this project relatively safe and it seemed to come off as a continuation of the same sound found on Rodeo, which is fine, but at a lesser quality. Hell, you could tell me that some of these tracks were B-sides to singles from Rodeo and I would believe you.
I can’t say that this wasn’t a fun project that tied together a lot of great and seemingly relevant artists because it was and it did. Although I haven’t seen him live myself I’ve heard that he is quite the performer. I just want Travis to make something past Rodeo. Maybe something darker, grittier? Maybe something with deeper lyrics? Guess we will wait to hear what’s next from La Flame.