Travis Scott is a polarizing figure. Straight up.
Some people swear by his sound and think he’s cut from the same creative cloth as Kanye West, others think he screams inexplicably over cluttered beats. Hate him or love him, there’s no denying his meteoric rise to the top of the hip-hop food chain where he has summoned a who’s who of heavy hitters for his debut studio album Rodeo.
From Yeezy to the Biebs to The Weeknd, Scott’s album is filled to the brim with established artists who have come together to help the 23-year-old Houston native shine on his first commercial project. But even with all those guest appearances, Rodeo still maintains a distinct identity as something of a southern rap symphony that allows us to roam the strange realm where Scott acts as conductor.
It’s almost like Yeezus if Kanye were brought up in Atlanta and raised on Gucci Mane and Brick Squad while having his own garage punk band.
With Rodeo, it’s clear Scott is a big picture kind of artist that takes stock into creating a full body of work that yearns to be listened all the way through with lengthy tracks that change beats and melodies throughout.
It seems a bit excessive for a track like “3500” featuring Future and 2 Chainz to be nearly eight minutes, but that longer track style works a lot better on “Oh My Dis Side” with the creative beat switch about halfway through that goes from gritty Atlanta trap to a mellowed out R&B jam. It’s thoroughly inventive and immediately instills in listeners that there’s more than one dimension to Scott’s sound.
The really great moments on this album come when Scott is giving the ball to one of his guests for the layup. This is very apparent on a song like “Pray 4 Love” where The Weeknd’s vocals provide an authoritative contrast to Scott’s autobiographical prose where he drops anarchistic bars like “I mean I’m aggravated, agitated, I admit intoxicated, animated, got me feelin’ kinda lit / contemplatin’, fornicatin’, might as well fuck some shit up.”
On “Maria I’m Drunk,” Scott enlists fellow southern rapper Young Thug and a young hot spitta known as Justin Bieber. Seriously though, Bieber somehow steals the show from both Scott and Thugga with a straight up rap verse that barely sees him tapping into his talents as a singer.
Rodeo is not without its flaws, however. On perhaps the most disappointing track on the album, Scott pulls in his mentor Kanye for a feature on “Piss On Your Grave” which not only feels forced but also quite out of place among songs like “Antidote” and “Impossible” which follow. It’s also a rare instance on the album that Scott actually eclipses his guest simply because of how mediocre Kanye sounds.
Lyrically, “La Flame” is simply not on the level. As brilliant as the production on this album is, listening to Scott with no guests acapella would be pretty painful. He’s an artist that relies on vision as opposed to singularity in his music, he feeds off other artists and they in turn contort his sound into something far more intriguing than any southern rap act out today.
It’s far from perfect but Rodeo is a fun ride throughout the majority of its duration. Lyricism is not Scott’s forte but it’s fine because of how the album is set up with his guests acting as his cast in a feature length film he’s directing.
He might not take home the “Best Director” award but he’s certainly worthy of a nomination.
Get at me on Twitter @PatCwiklinski.