In an age where advanced knowledge of the music scene’s constantly evolving landscape is vital to artistic survival, Travis Scott is poised to lead hip-hop to a new era. A GOOD Music in-house producer, the 23-year-old’s music channels influences such as Kanye West and Kid Cudi into ultra-modern perspectives on life in the Internet era. He began to craft rumblings of greatness on the quintessential Days Before Rodeo mixtape in 2014, but a year later, he now has the opportunity to snatch greatness by its throat with his debut full-length, Rodeo.
Magnifying the sentiments of his generation through narrations of drug-fueled love, partying, and piercing loneliness, Scott’s work speaks to a wide audience whose interest in more melodic rap was due to 808s and Heartbreak and Man on the Moon. The album even uses T.I. as a narrator in a style obviously nodding to the latter, but otherwise, Scott’s influences are only apparent in smaller pieces of a much bigger picture as he redefines conceptions of what constitutes as hip-hop. An emotion-and-autotune soaked hook and verse from The Weeknd paired with lines such as “Intoxicated, animated, got me feelin’ kinda lit” from La Flame results in a track whose intoxicated haze lies somewhere between a packed club and an empty bed. It’s a brilliant combination of sentiments that are bent at Scott’s will in various ways throughout Rodeo, a notion partially due to his ability to curate the most forward-thinking minds in music.
A quick glance at the album’s credits finds an army of artists whose skills align with Scott’s vision; Metro Boomin lends his banger-creating abilities on some of the record’s best tracks, Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd fame offers one of the most infectious verses in recent memory, and other young-faces ranging from Chief Keef to Sonny Digital are present as well. While Scott surprisingly is only credited once for production (on the moody ‘Apple Pie’), his influence on each track is apparent as every collaborator is pushed to previously untapped musical limits, in turn achieving music of a sonic stature beyond anything hip-hop has witnessed to date.
As a whole, there’s not much direct cohesion between individual tracks on Rodeo, but in turn the record functions as an exhibition of all aspects of his extensive vision. The seething anger of ‘Piss On Your Grave’ is just as potent as the party-starting ‘Night Call,’ not to mention the molasses pace of ‘Wasted’ and the woozy, romantic drawl of ‘Maria I’m Drunk.’ It’s a risky set-up that pays off for an artist whose high-flying intentions have been fully realized.