Don’t you open up that window… Or all of the birds will fly free; which is exactly what Travis Scott wants on his sophomore album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. Travis finally debuted the album on his Beats 1 show, .wav, during the morning of September 2nd. While there were a few dates promised that came and went, BITTSM couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s the perfect album to cap off summer ’16.
Travis’ last album Rodeo gathered mixed reviews from the True Too staff and other hip hop fans. There was a lot of talk on how the features outshone Travis on his own album. How would he follow it up? After many of his features and tracks like “Pick Up The Phone” and “Hooch” were absolutely flames, there seemed to be a good feeling looming over BITTSM. The opening track, “the ends,” has an Andre 3000 feature. So yeah, that’s pretty fucking epic. Travis tweeted out a list of contributors to the album and it is nothing short of legendary:
For ur help
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) September 2, 2016
KENDRICK AND 3 STACKS? DID THAT SAY MADONNA? Travis shows masterful curating skills on BITTSM (possibly something he learned from his mentor Kanye West), and places all of his contributing artists in the perfect place, on the perfect tracks. “first take” features Bryson Tiller on an intimate track where the duo takes love head on. “through the late night” sits as an ode to Travis’ favorite artist Kid Cudi who is rightly featured; creating the perfect type of summertime nostalgia for those of us who first heard “Day and Night” way back when. Canadian rapper NAV accompanies Travis on “beibs in the trap” which it turns out is a match made in heaven.
With a list of contributors like above, it could lead some to think this might be another case of Travis failing to rise to the occasion (a complaint some writers had towards Rodeo). Then you hear “sweet sweet.” The subtle whistling sucks the listener in before we’re blown away by a charming hook and instrumental, only to be tied together by a distorted guitar solo at the end. Every time Travis goes solo he comes out like a fucking rock star. He even managed to not get “Controlled” by Kendrick Lamar on “goosebumps,” which is an absolute banger. That’s the other thing that separates BITTSM from Rodeo. Many people complained there weren’t a lot of replayable tracks aside from “Antidote.” Not even the biggest Travis Scott critic can deny the fact Travis has made a masterpiece with this one. Well, Fantano can actually. It doesn’t feel like Trav threw in any filler tracks and remains consistent throughout BITTSM. He did his best to make sure that every song holds its place on the album while keeping it diverse and pushing his range. Take for instance on “guidance” where Travis samples K. Forest and creates what you could call his “One Dance,” placing himself in a setting we haven’t heard before.
While the album is good, maybe even great, there’s something that feels like it’s missing. With Rodeo Travis took a more out of the box approach that wasn’t typical to hip-hop. On Birds it seems Travis tried to stay in line with a more specific formula. While it is a very cohesive project, more so than the former, it still feels like Travis hasn’t hit his full potential just yet. Birds is so far Travis’ masterpiece; But it won’t be the masterpiece. This is a stepping stone Travis needed to hit. He got his first number one album by making it specifically for arenas. Travis is a wild performer and for Birds he finely tuned each track so it would be a banger to perform. For him to really reach his pinnacle he needs to combine the banging atmospheric range with the intimacy he used on Owl Pharaoh. The growth Travis has made however, is undeniable.
Travis takes risks and stays bold throughout Birds. Every time new Travis has come out this year it has felt like something completely different and fresh from the young artist. Whether it was from his vocals or the music itself, Travis is determined to not become sonically mundane. The flow of the album is a crucial and a technical desire for artists’ to hit, and Travis went yard with a grand slam on this one. The pacing is brilliant, and the “sdp interlude” helps reset the entire experience into an effortless ebb and flow making Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight one of the most complete projects this year. Just as Travis has propelled himself into raps’ spotlight, he won’t be confined by it. Travis Scott is too busy flying free.