After a year of waiting and anticipation, Travis Scott finally decided to drop his debut album Rodeo. After teasing his fan-base with mixtape Days Before the Rodeo on August of 2014, the hype behind Rodeo only grew even more as his name began to buzz more. Travis Scott, born Jacques Webster, is an artist from Houston who made a name for himself through producing by signing with Epic Records in 2012 before ultimately signing under Kanye West‘s production wing, “Very G.O.O.D. Beats.” He has produced for many well-known artists today such as Big Sean, Rihanna, Drake and more. Initially, Travis Scott was interesting solely for his beats and was only seen as a decent rapper. At first it seemed clear; he’d only develop as an artist as long as Kanye has him under his wing. As I began to watch him grow as an artist, I began to notice that some of his songs caught my attention, particularly the single “3500” featuring Future and 2 Chainz that he dropped in June. Excited to hear what type of alternative production and lyricism Travis had in store, Rodeo was a debut project that had many expectations to meet. While they were met, Travis Scott’s fourteen tracks do not come without it’s pitfalls.
I was disappointed when I found out that a lot of producers had their hands on this record. After hearing what Travis can do by himself as a producer, I was particularly interested to hear production solely from Scott and maybe a few others, but the list of producers was pretty heavy. The opening track “Pornography” starts off on a rather odd but interesting note with T.I. telling the story of how Jacques became the Travis Scott we all know and love today which apparently occurred 9 light years away outside of the Kepler solar system. Travis then begins to sing about his new found fame and lifestyle full of ménages and anti-monogamous deeds, Rodeo is found to be a very good opening track simply because of how dark and atmospheric it was. One thing Travis did very well in this album was maintain a very dark, clouded, and scary theme. The only problem with this album, however, was the amount of auto tune that was used.
Auto tune is not a bad thing in rap, but it should be used sparingly. If not you could end up with a track where the lyrics are hard to decipher, and fans are rushing to Rapgenius to figure out every single word you said. Many of these tracks were flooded with auto tune for the purpose of making it a better song, but instead it did the complete opposite. Songs like “Oh My Dis Side” and “I Can Tell”were not necessarily terrible tracks, but fell off due to auto-tuned verses that were just too much to bear. Artists have to be careful when using auto tune simply because it can distort an artist’s voice to the point where what could’ve have been a great song is ruined due to an excess of it.
Aside from that issue, the list of features are decent. The Weeknd ends up coming out on top for the best feature on the song “Pray 4 Love.” Although Travis’ verses were pretty good, the singing The Weeknd provided on this track gave it edge to put it over the top to make it a very well sung and put together song. Surprisingly, the one who ends up coming in at last place is Kanye West on the track “Piss on Your Grave.” This track is the essence of hitting rock bottom with the album. When I first saw that this track featured Kanye, I was excited because I figured he would provide a fire verse or hook on it, but reality hit me pretty hard when it came on. To be blunt, this song had the potential to be great but instead it crashed and burned. This song has no purpose being present on a mix tape, let alone an album. It seemed as if the purpose of this song was to be a filler rather than a song that actually could be a great radio hit if Kanye and Travis actually tried. While others are complacent with the fact that the song is not meant to be taken seriously, I can’t help but see it as a missed opportunity to make a hit single if the effort was provided.
Unlike “Piss on Your Grave,” “90210” is a great song due to Kacy Hill‘s beautiful singing, as well as the story that is told within the track. The switch up of the beat is definitely the highlight of the song where Travis begins to talk of his struggles with his family. This is a moment where Travis really shines This is one of the best tracks on the album, because it allows Travis to really show off his ability as a rapper, as well as his ability to flow well with the beat particularly when he says
“Whole crew I swear they counting on me/ Gold chains, gold rings I got an island on me/ Houses on me/ He got them ounces on him/Holy father come save these niggas I’m styling on ’em”
By the final track, “Apple Pie” this project felt like a rollercoaster of emotions. The positive side of Rodeo showed that Travis does indeed have potential. Despite the great beats on Rodeo, Travis would be better off producing his own beats for his own projects. After hearing all of the beats he’s made over the last couple of years from Jay Z’s “Crown” with Wondagurl to G.O.O.D. Music’s “Sin City”, I believe he has the talent and the skill to provide himself with his own beats in order to make great music. Overall, a decent debut project for someone who, with a little more guidance musically and sonically, can make a solid impact on the rap game.