Travis Scott has proved himself to be somewhat of anomaly within the industry. Having never quite received the critical acceptance one would expect of an artist of his stature, he continues to sell out shows across the world to hordes of loyal disciples. While his authenticity and integrity has been questioned by many, these will be the same people you find screaming along to ‘Antidote’ in the club.
There is no denying Travis is a product of his surroundings, but instead of imitating he has created a melting pot of distortion and collaboration in which a singular vision shines through. Like his mentor Kanye once said “To ‘mis’, ‘over’ or ‘ab’ use someone is negative. To use is necessary and if you cant be used..then you’re useless.” ‘Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight’ finds Travis as the host of the journey into his house of horrors.
A theatre full of drug filled indulgence and after hour ventures, it feels like Travis is one step away from self destruction and yet we all want to see where the next step will take him. ‘Rodeo’ found Travis trying to create an extravagant playground but eventually finding himself lost in it, ‘BITTSM’ is a much more stripped down and cohesive record. While previous records have been drawn out and over stuffed, Travis opts for a leaner approach this time which leads to a record which becomes more enticingly bleak. As the album cover would suggest this a tale of gothic horror, yet it’s in this chaos that Travis feels at home. On the city prowling ‘coordinate’ he groans the hook.
“Coordinate the tan with the beans in my Rockstar skinnies I’mma need some more, need some more, if I really wanna feel it.”
There are no limits in the world of Travis Scott, with excess in every fashion at the centre of it all. On ‘biebs in the trap’ he takes us on a sleepless expedition “Nightmares, high life, sleepy, night night, Flashes, spotlight, pull up, nice guy, Help it, please Beast, beast it, Bite me, ride me, strike me, indict me.” Travis raps at his best when he shows us snippets of his world, a glimpse behind the curtain into an adolescent drug filled journey of self exploration. On album opener ‘the ends’ Travis opts for a more traditional verse which quickly becomes tiresome and static. Yet on the other end of the spectrum on album highlight ‘goosebumps’ we have find Travis once again traversing the underworlds, “Oh no, I can’t fuck with y’all,n Yea, when I’m with my squad I cannot do no wrong, Yeah, saucing in the city, don’t get misinformed, yea They gon’ pull up on you “brr, brr, brr.”
One of Travis’s most unique talents has been has been his eye for both beat and guests selection. With the help of Mike Dean he has created a palette in which himself and everyone else shines. Travis plays to the strengths of his guests, with the pinnacle being the long awaited Kid Cudi collaboration ‘through the late night’. Cudi does what he does best, harmonising an infectious hook as Travis goes toe to toe with his mentor. On ‘outside’ 21 Savage delivers a typically upfront and brutal verse which will have many cowering. Andre 300 arguably delivers the best verse of the album, creating a new trap flow and painting a dark image of ‘the ends’.
With dark undertones and murmurs throughout Travis is alert enough to break things up. On ‘sweet sweet’ he opts for a more glossy sound as he deals with the temptation of romance and drugs collide, “Cause you’re sweet like cocoa, But all you wanna do is the coco, Hangin’ out with you is a no go.” On ‘lose’ he switches things up with triumphant horns as he takes a victory lap. While Travis has been accused of biting throughout his career, it is quite the opposite. Travis isn’t copying he’s using the sound and voices of others to find his own. Previous efforts may have had plenty of guests who often drowned out Travis, but this time his voice is at the forefront.
Its a real achievement that with a record filled with such chaos and adventure, and with so many voices present, that a unified vision is the outcome. Through all the fame, money and consumption that comes with being a rapper its clear that one thing truly does matter to Travis Scott. His friends and family. While his journey may takes him down some dark and seedy paths, he wants his team right beside him the whole way.
Watch the new 20 minute documentary ‘La Flame’ below, featuring all those friends and family including appearances from Kanye West, Diddy, Seth Rogen, Kevin Garnett, Migos’ Quavo, and Mike Dean.