Past, Present and Future, A Look at Travis Scott’s Debut Album “Rodeo”

Trent Ryden
Staff Writer

The young, wild, and debatably reckless musical artist Travis Scott released his third studio album “Astroworld” only a few weeks ago, and yet it has rocketed to the number one spot on the billboard 200.

For the second time in his career, Scott has a number one album. This time around, however,  Scott surpassed the prominent Veteran Rapper Nicki Minaj who recently released a project of her own “Queen” on the Billboard 200.

Scott, at only 26 years of age can boast the fact that  he has seen similar success before, with the release of his second Studio album “Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight”,  his first number one album. But Scott’s career and artistic journey has not always been one to be measured by the numbers.

As with most other artists, Scott can be better understood by observing the sound he was made famous for, the sound that defined who he was as an artist and ultimately a true career defining moment: the release of his debut album “Rodeo”.

On Sept.4th, 2015 Rapper/Singer-songwriter/Producer Travis Scott released his highly anticipated debut album “Rodeo”. For those of you who don’t know, “Rodeo” succeeded  

Scott’s second mixtape “Days Before Rodeo”.

The title of “Days Before Rodeo” acts as a metaphor in Scott’s life; the Rodeo being a metaphor for the fame and the stardom and the chaos that comes with it. Having released a few solo projects previous to Rodeo, up until this point, Scott’s work has mostly been considered something of a dark, spacey-sounding, melodic trap-rap headlined by hooks singing about hedonistic themes like drugs, sex, and money.

On Scott ‘s two major projects prior to Rodeo’s release, Owl Pharaoh and Days Before Rodeo, Scott was praised for his unique and innovative sounds aided by his ability to put on an absurdly lit live show. Rodeo, however, distanced itself from these two projects. Scott was on a “mission to be heard” (and still is); and if he hadn’t done so already, and put his name on the map. Rodeo did just that.

With chart-topping bangers like “3500” (feat. Future & 2 Chainz) and ubiquitous earworms such as “Antidote”, Rodeo was indeed a commercial success. The production on this album is amazing. Composed of hazy lead synths and deep rumbling 808 bass tracks, Rodeo is a drugged-out, angst fueled night of relentless raging, save a few reflective moments of reprieve such as “Apple Pie” or “Oh My Dis Side”, where we see Scott looking back on his past and how it ties in with his present and ultimately, his future.

The songs on Rodeo hit hard from start to finish. Though much of Scott’s sound is traditionally derived from present day trap music, Rodeo exemplified that he is interested in more than just simple, predictable trap beats. We see Scott utilizing several uncommon, in the mainstream that is, songwriting techniques.

Many of the songs on Rodeo almost evolve as they go on, they blossom and open up like a flower in Spring. One of the most notable examples is on “90210”, where the song starts off wistful and serene, gently led by the angelic vocals of Kacy Hill and the warm low-synth bass excites the ears. Then, half-way through, the song undergoes a bright and clean transition guided by a piercing piano, full-reverberating bassline and a live drum-set. It is refreshing to the ear.

Another absolute jam would be “Ok Alright” (feat. ScHoolboy Q) where only in a matter of bars the unapologetic and belligerent tone of the song turns introspective and gloomy. This a theme commonly found in Scott’s music: the tendency to be both mindlessly and recklessly forthright, and yet simultaneously vulnerable and honest.  

From the bass heavy, metal-inspired epic to the muddy blues guitar on “Piss On Your Grave”, Rodeo displays a wide array of sounds throughout, subsequently making Rodeo a multi-genre piece that expands beyond the confines of the traditional trap-rap album.

But, interestingly enough, it is not just the collage of musical influences that makes Rodeo to be what it is. It is Scott’s commanding presence as an emcee, alongside his long list of featured celebrity artists, that carry the album and give it substance.

Of all the things to be said about this album, what strikes the listener most is the energy and enthusiasm which he channels into his work. It is in his dark, aggressive, and synergistic sound that he conveys sonically this aforementioned enthusiasm so well.

All over this album, Scott comes up with these catchy hooks and these delightful and meandering earworms that not only draw in, but captivate the listener.

As Scott’s sound continues to develop and evolve over time, as can be heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” and “Astroworld”, an observative listener can see transformations happening, but can also some of the very same recurring attributes that people know him for.

In this day and age, as Scott’s artistic influence continues to spread like wildfire, one must not forget where he came from sonically, to understand where he is going artistically, and where he is going in the years to come. There is no better place to start than “Rodeo”.



Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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