Jacques Webster, or Travis Scott as he is known in the music industry, is a Houston born rapper, producer and trap extraordinaire with the ability to create banger after banger without even breaking sweat. It really hasn’t taken long for people to sit up and notice Travis’ ability and it has him on the path to greatness already, just four years after his breakout hit ‘Upper Echelon’ hit the charts and became somewhat of a meme for those horns. Since then he has brought us two mixtapes and two albums, as well as multi-platinum singles and a number one album in America. Let’s have a look at what has moulded LA Flame’s meteoric rise.
His stage name may surprise many people, but the Scott part of it comes from his hero Kid Cudi, who’s real name is Scott Mescudi and Travis decided to use it as his stage surname. He gathered his trade from a young age when he left “the hood” where his grandma lived to eventually move to his parent’s house in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. Dropping out of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Travis moved to Washington to focus fully on his music production, not having an intention at this point to be an artist himself, simply a producer. Things weren’t quite clicking and so he moved to Los Angeles, California. Upon arriving, rapper T.I. subsequently listened to one of his tracks and put him on the map, it was said that his production was something that stood out as masterful.
So he had backing and now a platform to perform not only as a producer, but an artist too. Travis was ready to release his first body of work, a mixtape titled “Owl Pharaoh” which he scheduled to release in 2012. After delaying it’s release, he then re-created the project entirely with the help of Kanye West and it gave the whole thing a new dimension. To make up for the delayed release, Scott was releasing singles to add anticipation, including his remix of Pusha T’s hit “Blocka” which Travis himself provided production for. “Quintana” then took off afterwards and XXL approached Travis to be a 2013 freshman. He accepted the invitation and gave one of the best cypher performances in the history of XXL. That soared Travis to new levels and suddenly there was pressure on his “Owl Pharaoh” release to hit the heights people now knew he could reach.
“Owl Pharaoh” was released as a free online download on May 21st 2013 and it gained a lot of buzz, with XXL giving it four stars in their review. The review went on to say that “Perhaps Owl Pharaoh’s sole drawback is that it still doesn’t quite seem to answer the question ‘Who exactly is Travi$ Scott?’ Luckily for him, this incredibly cohesive debut is so mesmerizing that everyone should want to find out.” High praise indeed from a very well respected publication. I personally really enjoyed “Owl Pharaoh” thanks to it’s brilliance on the production side of things, helping craft bangers into a cohesive and well-run project. With that being said I was still aware that he had more to offer, particularly in the lyrical sense as he came up a bit short in that regard.
His period of rest wasn’t about to start here, though, as work very quickly began on a follow-up project, and we were promised big things this time round. Travis confirmed on his Twitter account that his debut album would be called “Rodeo” but this wouldn’t be an album, instead it’d be a mixtape titled “Days Before Rodeo”. He released his lead single titled “Don’t Play” featuring Big Sean and British band The 1975 on May 5th 2014 and gave fans a taste of what was to come. It was a brilliant twist of technical production and strong bars, a real sign of progression from Houston’s rising starlet. “Days Before Rodeo” soon followed and came to us in August of the same year, boasting some of the hardest production around, not least on second single “Mamacita” featuring Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug, which is hands down one of the filthiest trap bangers I’ve heard in a long time. ‘Days Before’ was critically received on a very high level, with Jacob Roy from ‘Thefourohfive’ stating that “it wouldn’t be a stretch to say Travi$ Scott could be at the forefront for a new generation of hip-hop that have their eyes on the bigger picture.” The potential was starting to blossom and people were now seeing the vision that LA Flame had. As for what followed, nobody could have expected it.
Two mixtapes under his belt, it was time for Travis Scott to venture into the world of album releases and with the support of record labels “Grand Hustle” and “Epic”, it was time for us to all join the “Rodeo”. It was a project that Travis had ready for a while, but he was desperate to perfect it and make sure the crucial touches were added in the right places. The result was nothing short of magical. A diverse and unique take on a modern day concept album, with trap bangers and emotional life anecdotes to suit. Singles “3500”, featuring Future and 2 Chainz, and “Antidote” charted well and are still burning up speakers to this day with their spaced-out production and hardcore beat drops. The way the album is put together makes it a modern classic already, ranking in my own top 10 albums of this decade so far, above the likes of “Blond” by Frank Ocean to name just one. The album becomes a tale of the highs and lows of life, the riches and the rags, but above all it is 14 songs of absolute dynamite, with every single track coming at the perfect time. This was the step, Travis was now a global star and would surely now rest on his laurels after the success.
You thought wrong if you thought he was done there. After copping a top three album and mass critical acclaim, Travis announced at the beginning of 2016 that a new album was on the way and we were then given it that September, with the confusing title “Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight”. This album may not have been as culturally and emotionally connecting as “Rodeo”, but it sure had sellability and we saw that when he got his first ever number one album from it. Features such as Andre 3000 and Kid Cudi meant Travis was living a dream by collaborating with some of his musical influences, while other guest verses from Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller and The Weeknd meant he was officially in the commercial limelight. He didn’t disappoint and gave us 14 more bangers, the highlights of which were “Pick Up The Phone” with Young Thug and Migos’ Quavo, which is now certified Platinum as a single, and “Beibs In The Trap” with NAV, a glazed trap song with out of this world vibes to it and psychedelic production. Complex ranked it as the 5th best album of 2016, while XXL rated it four stars again. I had it in 11th place in my albums of the year list, ranking only behind Kanye West, Chance The Rapper and Noname for the best hip-hop album.
So there is his discography, if you still aren’t convinced then let me run through some of his stand-out strengths that make him, in my opinion one of the best rappers in the industry at the moment:
Name an artist who has made as many catchy hooks as Travis Scott. Nobody? You would be correct to think that, because there is absolutely nobody who comes close to him. Whether it’s a guest hook or one of his own, Travis knows how to sell a track and make it memorable in the most important of areas, the chorus. Evidence of this would quite simply be his whole discography, go on his Spotify and listen for yourself. “Antidote”, “Goosebumps”, “Pick Up The Phone” and “Apple Pie” stand out for me as the best of his hooks.
He may well be the best feature artist in hip-hop at the moment, he is that good at leaving a lasting impression on a track that isn’t his. All you need to do is take the example of G.O.O.D. Music’s “Champions” track, which has a handful of rappers on it but who stands out? Travis Scott, of course. His hooks play a major part of this success when featuring, but he can also do a great job when spitting bars in his verse. Prime evidence of his rap talents are on the Justin Bieber track “No Sense” where Travis demonstrates raw flow and cadence while also sticking to his typically cold character.
The best thing with Travis Scott when listening to his music is that you have a great balance between the club bangers and his ability to make dark and moody attitude music. Songs like “Pick Up The Phone” or “Antidote” will get a club moving that’s for sure but then tracks like “Mamacita” and “Piss On Your Grave” will create a dark atmosphere around anything you see and do. As well as that he can make songs like “90210” or “First Take” where he shows his emotional side with women and growing up. He has a brilliant talent in more than one field and that’s what sets him apart from the rest.
You won’t see many more stylish people in the music industry than Travis Scott, both in a musical and fashion sense. He has collaborated with Alexander Wang, Supreme and Beats by Dre to create some of the slickest looks and make himself one of the hottest properties in the world. He is alongside the likes of Kanye West and A$AP Rocky as hip-hop’s fashion king now thanks to his pioneering looks and eccentric trends, as well as his well documented relationship with Supreme and Louis Vuitton.
Many consider the use of autotune as a cop out, a crutch to help aid someone who can’t reach the notes they wish to due to their voices limitations. That opinion has now become about as outdated as the people who still believe in it thanks to the work of Kanye West in his “808s & Heartbreak” album. Ever since then, people have been trying with varied degrees of success to emulate that sound. Travis Scott has done more than emulate it, he has revolutionised it and as a result has added new levels of heroism to his music, from intoxicated hooks to elongated tones in his raps. If you don’t believe me that he is revolutionised the sound, then listen to “sdp Interlude” and then check back in with me, okay?
Basically, Travis is a culture changer, he makes the way you listen to music different to the norm. He has a personality on his songs, he has a message and a vision that he is pushing and first and foremost he is a bloody good artist. Without a doubt in my mind, he is the king of trap music and it won’t be long before he becomes the king of hip-hop in general. Watch this space and of course, let LA Flame burn on forever.