Texas born rapper Travis Scott has seen a meteoric rise to fame in the past couple of years, mainly thanks to his acquaintance with Kanye West and the release of debut studio album ‘Rodeo’ in 2015, the latter being the topic of this post today. His previous mixtapes were well-recieved but struggled to branch to a widespread audience due to only being accessible online and having next to no radio airtime but everything changed for him with this project, which is being described as a modern classic already and one of the most unique hip-hop albums of the last decade. With a couple of songs on here I feel you may know and a feature list as broad and exciting as you could wish for, ‘Rodeo’ caters for all hip-hop fans and even veers down a prog-rock avenue with the occasional wacky instrumental switch-up.
Pornography – 10/10
This is getting a 10 for one reason and one reason only, T.I. doing a spoken word monologue at the start is quite possibly the best and worst thing I have ever heard in my life all rolled into one. The beat is gritty and very underground while the vocal delivery is very throaty and dark, even in the chorus which has a bit more of a harmony to it and sounds great. It is hard to ignore the little segments of instrumental which don’t sound like your typical hip-hop song, particularly the Elton John styled piano with steady drums before a complete snap and switch into that cold hearted Travis Scott flow we know and love where he turns into a complete savage. This, for me, is a brilliant introduction and it has T.I. speaking, what more could you ask for?
Oh My Dis Side (feat. Quavo) – 10/10
Dark, moody and downright strange in it’s delivery because everything about it suggests it both shouldn’t work and shouldn’t sound this powerful; after all, it is hardly a challenging hook to deliver but the verses are fantastic, the interchanging chemistry between Travis and Migos member Quavo is hard to ignore as they set fire to this fairly subtle beat. I think that Quavo outperforms Travis on this but that is no slight to Travis that is just because of how good a job Quavo does. The best part of the song is the switch up and it makes your initial perspective of the song completely change. The song now becomes a two-parter, with ‘Oh My’ being the first half and ‘Dis Side’ being the second part. Bloody fantastic.
3500 (feat. Future & 2 Chainz) – 10/10
Any track with Future on it bangs, if you don’t know that by now then hip-hop isn’t for you I’m afraid. Put him together with Travis Scott and this happens, pure fire so someone better call 999 ASAP. The beat is space-age with those twinkling chimes and it is a theme that sticks throughout, helping it sound different to your usual trap hit because without them, it would be a great track but with them it adds concept to the story of the whole album. Travis’ verse is huge and probably the best one of the three, but Future runs it pretty close. The less said about 2 Chainz’s verse the better but that is just personal preference of mine, I am not his biggest fan and I am sure plenty of people will love his part on this track. The instrumental in the last minute or so becomes angelic and staggered it is just stunning, a fitting finale to a quite brilliant song.
Wasted (feat. Juicy J) – 9/10
This sounds nuts again and it will take you time to fall in love with it given the very extravagant beat and the groaning hook but when it is weighed up alongside the verses on the song it sounds incredible. The turn it takes about two minutes in suits brilliantly with the introduction of Juicy J and his verse which actually surprised me with how well it flowed and how he held the beat down with such effect. As is often the case with this album, the instrumental is the major talking point as it all comes crashing down at the end, implying it could be a bit of a comedown from any drugs he took while he was ‘Wasted’ which in itself creates a whole new dimension to the song and album as a whole.
90210 (feat. Kacy Hill) – 11/10
This song made it onto my Desert Island Discs with very good reason, it is just majestic, an absolute stroke of genius from a man with the world at his feet. The best way to pay homage to this song would be to tell you with absolute confidence that I listen to it multiple times a day and never tire of it, every last second is like a master painter’s next brush stroke on the canvas. It is a steady build-up on the song which seems like it may never arrive but actually the build-up itself is stunning, particularly the individual keys used in the instrumental to partner the vocal of Kacy Hill. About two minutes in you get the feel that something crazy is going to happen and you would be right, just nothing like you would expect. At precisely two minutes 27 seconds my life flashed before my eyes when I heard those piano keys start to kick in and i realised we were actually getting a Pink Floyd-esque sound behind a Travis Scott verse, it is like every Christmas rolled into one. As if it couldn’t get any better, the verse he puts over it is quite possibly the best verse he has ever done, rapping about making his parents proud and how much his life has changed in such a short space of time, all while maintaining impeccable flow and stunning delivery. Please, I beg of you, listen to this song, every last second is art.
Pray 4 Love (feat. The Weeknd) – 9/10
From a masterpiece to The Weeknd, this album is such a treat on the ears with the way it fades and cuts from track to track. The dark side of Travis Scott returns on this song with an immensely eerie sounding hook from The Weeknd setting the tone for an angry and emotional track over a heavy, dark trap beat. Travis’ first verse is perfect for the mood of the track as he raps about all the people he prays for and all the encounters he has had to deal with over his short career. His second verse also follows suit but as the pianos start his attitude picks up and he starts rapping about all the things he is going to do to make his mum happy and it is wonderfully heart-warming. One criticism is that in the bridge he sounds like a strange mixture of Kanye and Kid Cudi but luckily that phase only lasts a few seconds before we are swept off our feet by Abel himself. The Weeknd knocks it out the park with a haunting vocal about how amazing he is and to be honest I agree every word he says. What a rollercoaster anthem this is.
Nightcrawler (feat. Swae Lee & Chief Keef) – 9.5/10
The most understated lit track ever, the beat is so dirty and progressive and when Swae Lee, better known as one half of Rae Sremmurd, starts his hook it just sounds biblical. The holy aspect only gets better when Travis Scott jumps in himself and the beat rises into this alien styled synth and I am not sure which is better, Travis’ flow or the crazy beat behind it. Swae Lee steals the show without a doubt with his usual soft but bopping hook and he sounds better on here than he has on any Rae Sremmurd song, that’s saying something considering how many bangers they have done. Enough of this serious reviewing stuff, let’s talk about Chief Keef. This dude is a mess but for some reason it is impossible to dislike him, he raps about McDonalds and cake in this verse and it bumps hard, that’s what Keef does. This is such a brilliant song I love it but I would like a tiny bit more Travis Scott if I were to be picky.
Piss On Your Grave (feat. Kanye West) – 10/10
Every bone in your body will try and force you to hate this song, because logic dictates that it should be appalling, but I have a challenge for you. Try and dislike it, try and criticise what he does with the prog-rock instrumental before turning it dark and demonic with his and Kanye’s verse.Travis Scott is one of Kanye’s latest projects and there’s a thought that Travis is carrying the legacy on, with verses like Travis’ where he completely squashes Kanye, expect huge things. The one way to describe this track is rule breaking, it is rebellious and full of attitude and I absolutely love it, probably because it has two of my favourite artists together going crazy over a prog-rock beat.
Antidote – 11/10
The song that gave this man fame. The most infectious track he will ever do and that’s not just because of it’s drug link. The hook is memorable and impossible not to sing along to, the drop on the beat is pure filth and his bars are almost as catchy as the ad-libs he puts on the end of each line. Travis went “straight up” to the top with this trap banger and it just gets better and better the further on the song goes, just when you question where the track will go next, Travis has the answers and switches up the style to something even cooler. His hard rap verse towards the end of the track is incredible and shows his ability to spit as well as the ability to create hooks better than anyone in the industry at the moment. Wow, just wow, what a track that is and it is reviews like this that make me realise truly how special and how hype that song is.
Impossible – 9/10
Very psychedelic and it paints the picture of a heavily under the influence Travis Scott trying to talk to this girl and tell her how much she means to him. It puts Travis in a rare position of weakness in comparison to how he usually sounds when he is the guy girls come to rather than him chasing them, I like that switch and the hook is very catchy with a unique sounding vocal performance, thanks mainly to the wobble of the autotune. The track is almost satanic as he sinks to his lowest ebb and feels the effects of his lavish lifestyle all crashing down on him at once. It is a very clever song and rather than being a complete banger like an Antidote is, it follows a narrative within the album’s story and fits perfectly within it. Great work.
Maria I’m Drunk (feat. Young Thug & Justin Bieber) – 9/10
The combination of these three artists is just too intriguing to ignore and when it came to this point of the album on first listen I was ridiculously excited about what these three would deliver. What I was given didn’t disappoint, as the song suggests it follows on from the previous song and could suggest that the girl Travis was swooning over in ‘Impossible’ was in fact Maria from this one. The beat is very spacey again as is to be expected from a song from Thug and Travis about a girl and drinking. Some people may not be the biggest fans of the fact it takes so long to kick into action but I like that as it suggests a planning process for inviting the girls to get drunk and picking up the confidence to do it. Bieber’s verse is absolutely electric and makes the song really and he sounds like a singer way beyond his young years. Young Thug is very understated by his usual standards but his regular hook inclusion of “call your friends let’s get drunk” is very cool. The best part of his verse is the HUGE screech of “SKRRRT” about half way through and it almost confirms Thugger’s presence on the track. Another huge track.
Flying High (feat. Toro y Moi) – 9/10
More of a feel good track than the previous two as perhaps he has got drunk and now he feels on top of the world, that is the best part of this album ordering, it becomes a beautiful narrative and gives us a great insight into Travis’ lifestyle while also not forgetting to give us banging songs on the way through it. In all honesty, he does sound a little bit like Kanye on this song but that is only momentarily on the hook, once he jumps into his verse he takes his own persona again and it makes the song all the more better. Toro y Moi does a brilliant job at creating this angelic feel around the track both in the beat and the way the vocal compliments it. The piano keys in the chorus help paint the halo over their heads before Travis throws it on the ground and stamps on it in his hard verses. Tune.
I Can Tell – 9.5/10
The drums on this track are amazing they create such a brilliant pace setting tone to the track and add something new to the trap sounds. The thing that stands out to me is that you can tell pretty early on that this song is going to go insane at some point, mainly due to the drums and the incredible pace Travis shows in his flow in the first verse. The hook can get pretty boring but it is very much like floating on a cloud, you get lost in it and as is the case on the previous song, Travis snaps into action and gets you back in the room in the verses. Literally as soon as he says “take it up another notch” he sure as hell does and the song becomes a 90210 style jam with the instrumental, with the snares and the wobble guitars becoming prominent. Fantastic track, could have probably been a single it was that good.
Apple Pie – 10/10
Contender for the best beat on the whole album, I absolutely love the occasional phantom cow bell he chucks in there along with what sounds like a heavily remixed Zelda theme song. The chorus is beautiful and the pianos make it even better, just bloody stunning I can’t get over it. This is a seriously good way to end an album and as is always the case with Travis Scott, the layers on the track mean you will never ever get bored listening to this, after the second chorus there is an overlapping of about 20 sounds before going into a crazy verse which does a brilliant job of bringing Travis’ part to a close. Then we get the finale and if you guessed it you can be my new best friend, there is ANOTHER spoken word verse by T.I, oh lord have mercy on our soul.
Overall – 9.5/10
An absolute delight to listen to and I feel it will never age, it is the pace setter for modern trap artists and it is what I often describe as an accidental concept album, he literally stumbled upon the concept and put it all together, what a guy. Seven or eight tracks on here could be singles and that pays homage to how well Travis does in making sure that he finds the balance between concept and narrative, as well as the the ability to make great songs that can be listened to and enjoyed outside of the album. Simply a remarkable job done very effectively by one of hip-hops new superstars.