In Rodeo, Travi$ Scott delivers detailed, personal storytelling in the syrupy tones of homegrown Texas screw music. Scott's sound is influenced by artists such as Kanye West and Kid Cudi, but the lingering question left by his last two projects has been, “What is Travi$ Scott’s sound?” Following his acclaimed mixtapes Owl Pharaoh and Days Before Rodeo, the former UT student solidifies his personal sound in his debut LP, released Sept. 4.
Known for a lack of fluff in his bars, Scott hits hard with raw lines, while constantly sliding from one musical genre to the next. The album opens with some classic Houston trap in “Oh My Dis Side,” featuring Quavo. Starting out with the chorus “oh my,” the track traverses through Scott’s humble beginnings, “Mama kick me out the house now, oh my, I might end up on the couch now, oh my.” Fading out through tinkling reverbs, the song then takes a 180 toward a polished, electronic sound. Scott switches choruses to “dis side” as he reminisces about life both before and through the trappings of fame. Scott continues his shoutout to the South with club banger “3500,” featuring Future and 2 Chainz.
“Wasted” is one of the most lyrical tracks on the album. Here, Scott delivers some highly personal bars, spitting about the daily grind and the codeine and how he can barely handle it all. Scott raps, “Looking in the mirror like one day Jacques you gon’ be the man/One skinny tatted nigga, blunt flicker/Young La Flame hot spitter, who can’t hold his liquor, yeah,” over psychedelic riffs and sparse bass drops.
Other highlights include R&B fusion track “Pray 4 Love” and radio hit “Antidote.” “Pray 4 Love” exhibits Scott’s frustration at everything from corporate sellouts to marginalized populations. “Antidote” can be heard at most Southern turn-ups.
At times, the album feels bogged down by features that often clash with the message of the track. Juicy J’s creepy-uncle-in-the-club vibe and constant lines about strippers are unnecessary on an introspective song such as “Wasted.” The Kanye-produced track “Piss On Your Grave,” moreover, lacks thought that makes it feel secondhand. The repetition of the chorus “piss on your grave” is so monotonous that it loses the message of sticking it to the man and comes out sounding forced.
While the stylistic influences of Kanye, Cudi and T.I. are prominent, especially on tracks such as “Pray 4 Love,” it’s important to note that these are influences impossible to escape. For many rappers of this generation, Kanye West and Kid Cudi are giants in the way Biggie and Nas were in the ’90s. The Houston sound is bread and butter to the young rapper, but he is also part of the increasing de-regionalization of rap music in the diversity of his sound.
In the age of the Internet, artists from all across the country are instantly accessible from pretty much anywhere. The localized borders of hip-hop are becoming more and more loosely defined, resulting in artists such as Travi$ Scott — a psychedelic Houstonian who adds shots of Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak to his experimental trap.