There is no denying the impact that Houston’s screwed and chopped sound has had on hip-hop culture. During the late 1990s, multi-platinum selling rappers such as Mike Jones, Lil Flip, Paul Wall and Slim Thug flooded the rap game with their DJ Screw inspired country rap tunes. However, Houston’s new breed such as Marcus Manchild, Boston George and one of Kanye West’s protégés, Travi$ Scott, have abandoned the chopped-up formula that shed light on the city. To get a glimpse of this, look no further than Scott and his trap hop sound. Following the footsteps of his mentor, the 2013 XXL Freshman isn’t afraid to experiment with different sounds and flows. On Days Before Rodeo, Scott offers a fresh sound that continues what he started on the excellent Owl Pharaoh.
The album commences with the title track “Days Before The Rodeo.” The head nodding, piano-thumping track finds the Houston native delving into the gifts and curses of the industry. Travi$ delivers from start to finish about his focus on money, his impatience with chasing number one albums and women. The Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug-assisted ‘Mamacita” is the next track, where the trio link up for an ode to licentious yellow bones. The cut yells with bass-clanking/dark trap bounce as Travi$ steals the show, Quan keeps up, while Thugga does what he does. “Quintana Pt. 2” featuring T.I. follows the same flexing theme from part one, that is, until the beat changes and T.I. drops a stellar Trap Muzik-like verse. “Drugs You Should Try,” “Don’t Play” featuring Big Sean and The 1975, which is the album’s lead single, and “Skyfall” abuses the same formula of sex, drugs and money over Travi$’ electric sounding production.
The latter half of the album uses a more turn-up approach, but keeping the worn out theme of sex, money and drugs. However, “Backyard” offers a minuscule view into Scott’s life while growing up on Houston’s Southside and Missouri City. He raps about his mom’s regular hospital visits while holding down a 9-5 at AT&T, haters telling him that he’ll never make it as a rapper and his father’s brief absence. The album concludes with the hard electric knock sound of “Blacc.” A bonus track that sticks to the southern original bounce that makes one want to count up, stunt, and be proud to be from the region.
Overall, Days Before Rodeo is a solid offering that lives up to expectations. The album’s flaws come from an overabundance of features (the 12-track project has guests featured on five songs) and a lack of subject matter. Fans would love to hear Scott get personal, introspective and dive deeper into his obvious creativity like his mentor, Yeezy. However, Scott’s style and originality make up for small missteps.—Darryl Robertson