Travis Scott Finds His Lane in Hip-Hop on Debut Album ‘Rodeo’
In 2005, the Houston rap scene was at the peak of mainstream hip-hop. Acts like Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, UGK and Chamillionaire dominated the airwaves with their signature style of flows and chopped and screwed sound. Helping bring attention to the city, the boost in Houston rap at the time showcased the city's immense talent that was well-received by worldwide audiences. Since that breakthrough year, the Houston rap scene has continued to remain strong in the Southern regions, but the mainstream appeal it once had has shifted over to the trap-rap sounds of ATL. But now Houston native Travi$ Scott has taken it upon himself to bring back the spotlight, or in this case the Rodeo, to his beloved city of the H with his debut album.
Picking up right where he left off with his critically acclaimed mixtape Days Before Rodeo (2014), La Flame enlists a number of top-notch producers that help him achieve his vision. With production from the likes of Mike Dean, Metro Boomin, Sonny Digital, DJ Dahi, Wondagurl, Illangelo, Pharrell Williams, Frank Dukes, Allen Ritter and a few others, Rodeo offers a unified sound with heavy synths and a sonically dark twist to it, and while Travi$ is also known as a producer, the Owl Pharoah rapper chooses to help with production on just two out of the 14 tracks on Rodeo. And just like the long list of producers Travi$ incorporates on the album, his LP is full of guest features, including some surprising names. Future, 2 Chainz, Kanye West, Quavo from the Migos, Juicy J, The Weeknd, Chief Keef, Swae Lee from Rae Sremmurd and Young Thug (whew) all participate on the album, all of whom make sense to a degree. But it's the presence of pop sensation Justin Bieber (alongside Thugger, no less) and indie pop artist Toro y Moi that are the most surprising appearances on Rodeo.
With plenty of key moments throughout the album, Travi$ helps conceptualize a project that fits his style of rap and signature warbling auto-tune. Shining bright next to Quavo on "Oh My Dis Side," La Flame and the ATL rapper exchange bars with one another over the two-part beat produced by Allen Ritter, Mike Dean and Frank Dukes. Kicking rhymes about their new status in life, the record is one of the many highlights on Rodeo. Another buzz-worthy track on the album is "Maria, I'm Drunk," which features a flawless Young Thug handling the hook of the record while The Biebs drops a melodic and note-worthy 16 that'll have plenty of people talking. With Dukes and Ritter on the production side of the record, this surprising collab works wonders for La Flame. Other standout moments between Scott and his guest collaborators include the upbeat and funky "Flying High" featuring Toro y Moi and the futuristic and dark "Pray 4 Love" featuring The Weeknd.
As far as his lyrical delivery on the project, Travi$ depends heavily on the presence of his bleak yet melodic auto-tune and vocal effects, and while he's never been known as a rapper with superb bars and lyrics, he shows he has a flow that caters strictly to his style of hip-hop. Case in point his track "90210," in which Travi$ delivers some witty lines while speaking about a lost girl in the world of Hollywood. "Impossible" and "I Can Tell" are other great records that showcase Travi$' ability to create a banger with his signature style of rap/singing.
Overall, Rodeo has plenty of bangers and noteworthy collaborations that help bring out a futuristic trap sound that could bleed into the mainstream of hip-hop in no time. Solidifying himself as the next big rapper out of the H, Travi$ may not be the most lyrical MC in the world, but it's his creative vision and sonically driven sound that'll set him apart from the rest, while knowing his lane hip-hop better than anyone. —Roger Krastz