Written by Omar Rodriguez
Rodeo is the long-awaited debut album from producer/rapper Travi$ Scott. He has previously released two free projects, Owl Pharaoh and Days Before Rodeo, with the former being seen as very experimental and the driving influence behind Kanye West’s Yeezus. The latter of the two projects was seen as more cohesive and was critically acclaimed as one of the best projects of 2014, with songs such as Backyard, Drugs You Should Try and The Prayer standing out to show Scott’s strengths.
On this debut album, we are immediately given a view into his drug-driven sex world with the intro track Pornography. On the second half of this track he wakes up from this drug induced coma, and the real rapping finally begins. It should be noted that Travi$ Scott isn’t known for being the greatest lyricist ever, but rather for his unique production and the sound he brings, most well described as Atlanta trap turned into ballads. The album then continues into the second track Oh My Dis Side where the ad-libs of Migos member Quavo help emphasize Scott’s points. The second half of this track stands out as one of the few times Scott teases us with some personal lyrics. Throughout the project, as one struggles to find out what turned Scott into the animal that drives this Rodeo, listeners just get some generic rhymes about partying hard and taking drugs. This is evidenced with songs like Wasted, with a terrible feature from Juicy J.
The middle of the album begins with a track with the peak of the ballad trap on the track 90210 which has to be considered when one thinks of the best songs of 2015. The track starts of slow with background vocals from Kacy Hill, and then super-producer Mike Dean provides a beat switch that is reminiscent of something that would see on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The guitar riff here is beautiful, and this is the peak of Scott’s personal lyricism on the album as evidence by the opening of the third verse:
“My granny called, she said ‘Travie, you work too hard I’m worried you’ll forget about me’ I’m falling in and out of cars, don’t worry, I’ma get it, granny. What happened? Now my daddy, mama called me up. That money coming and she love me, I done made it now, I done found life’s meaning now”
While not the complex rap structures involving internal rhyme schemes hard core rap fans beg for, it is still a great moment for Travi$. We then get The Weeknd on the track Pray 4 Love, and the two surprisingly work well, even though I feel that Scott and PARTYNEXTDOOR would’ve made a better pair for this song. After we then get a great workout song with Nightcrawler that will cause someone to go too hard in the gym thanks to the vibes brought by partiers Chief Keef and Sway Lee. The album then hits a low with the very experimental P*ss on Your Grave, which contains a horrible Kanye feature and has throwaway written all over it. At this point of the album listeners may not know how to feel because half the tracks have stood out, but the other half have really failed to deliver.
Then Scott delivers a second half of an album that cements this album as a success, starting with the banger Antidote. Here we see Scott singing and delivering a song ready to be played in the club, but one that doesn’t “sell out”. Also on this second half we see a standout track Maria I’m Drunk, with an unexpected feature from Justin Beiber. It is my personal favorite from the album with a minimalist beat and a great tone set by Young Thug, who I am not too fond of. The track Flying High follows, with production from Toro y Moi and Pharrell and it definitely delivers the great vibes that will lift anyone up, even in their worst mood. The album closes with the track Apple Pie, where Travi$ realizes he has to come to his own, and leaves the listeners wondering what to expect to come next from him ( I hope it’s titled Days After Rodeo, to make a great trilogy). This second half is consistent all around in greatness, not so much in sound, and while others have criticized it for losing focus, I will praise Scott because the latter half is where most trap albums lose their appeal because of the similarity between the beats and sound that listeners get tired of. This half has no bad tracks and if released by itself as an EP it would have received a 10/10.
The first half of the album lacks, but the second half picks up all the slack and then some. Only critique outside of that is Travis needs to be more personal with his lyrics and let us know who he really is if he wants to have a long-lasting career.
90210, Maria I’m Drunk, Flying High, Oh My Dis Side
Least Favorite Tracks:
Wasted, P*ss on Your Grave