First Take: Travis Scott- Rodeo

Categorizing Travis Scott as an entity larger than a rapper who’s “hot right now” shouldn’t be a stretch. As a producer for GOOD Music, a ghostwriter (many claim he’s written bars for Yeezy), a musician (who plays the piano), and a trend setter in both sound and fashion at a mere 23 years old, he’s on the fast track for super stardom.

Scott, a Houston native, has been tinkering with his debut Rodeo for a minute. The album hit digital retailers on September 4th and the internet started bubbling. A google search reveals sentiments like unfinished, or rushed. One large online music publication even labeled the record “undercooked”.

There’s a certain shade the record casts, courtesy of producer/mastermind Mike Dean, whose stamp is all over Kanye’s work tracing back to Ye’s debut (and true classic) The College Dropout. But Rodeo is the polar opposite of underdeveloped. While there are moments that feel rehashed (seriously, the auto-tune shit is very, very played out), and the varied structures and tempos within a few songs is borderline confusing, the record is still expansive and fresh.

Mike Dean clearly had a hand in the scope and grandeur of Rodeo, but it’s Scott’s adventurous presence that carries the project; creating a woozy, H-Town extravaganza full of smoke and mirrors. Scott’s hubris is his strength. He’s cocky because he can be. He’s on the front lines shoulder to shoulder with Future and 2 Chainz on “3500”, not only carrying the song but stepping above his accomplished peers. Examining “90201” is a study in modern day hip hop. It’s not a song, it’s an atmosphere. The midway tempo shift gives Scott a chance to stretch his legs on the beat, reminding us the kid can spit. Guided by the genius of both Kanye and Kid Cudi, this is clearly Travis Scott at his best.

He’s is a chameleon of sorts, and it fits.  Scott’s mood music differs from the dime store pour up that dominates popular urban radio. He’s clipped and molded the endearing bits of his idols into his own spacey dream.  The effort and dedication is evident. We’ll see what sort of staying power Travis Scott possesses in a crowded lane full of Balmain jeans and double cups.

Standouts: Antidote, Maria I’m Drunk (shout out to Bieber and Young Thug who absolutely destroy the track), 90210, and Apple Pie.

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