Roughly two-and-a-half years ago, there was a younger kid that went to my high school who happened to go by the name of Travis Scott. He was no more than a small, lanky, blonde sophomore who I sincerely believe only began to gain some traction around the school because of what read along his Taft Charter High School ID.
But that timing is as coincidental as it gets, potentially even fate, right? Especially considering it was the school year (2015-16) that fell in line with the point that ultimately throttled Scott directly into the mainstream and officially made a gargantuan name for himself.
I remember it all so vividly — even that 12 months before the artist’s breakout party coincided with my junior year and the release of “Days Before Rodeo,” which was a project so prominent in quality and mystique that it genuinely managed to take over part of who I was that year.
I’d make my way around the halls and try to put him on, though the majority of the other students couldn’t care less. Nowadays, that same majority is recording him performing “Goosebumps” or listening to “Drugs You Should Try It” somewhere.
Having said all of that, yeah, I do hold some unwarranted animosity toward his now-oversaturated fanbase and even his new material for a handful of reasons. It’s primarily that the quality of his music has dropped significantly since he released this putrid song.
And as much as I side with Tristan Thompson after allegedly (unlikely) decking Warriors renowned trash-talker Draymond Green in the face, joining the Kardashian clan is never the best for your persona, in my opinion — Lamar Odom being the only exception.
Straying from image and staying on the music, if I’m being honest, I listened to the album by force. My manager was playing it, and I just had to live with it.
All in all, the production from top to bottom is atmospheric and symphonic; and while some of his flows grow extremely repetitive, there’s no doubt that some of them are rather infectious.
5. “Who? What!” (featuring Quavo and Takeoff)
Premier Bar: “Dodgin’ federal, I rolled through the light / Rollin’ the dice, rock on my ice”
This one genuinely sounds like a “Rodeo” leftover track, which is one of the most sincere things I can say about anything on this project. And had it released at the time, it would’ve made for a hell of a single.
Scott raps about balancing his life between his lavish Hollywood lifestyle with his stomping grounds (“In the hills but still keep them ghetto ties / Was talkin’ Frenchy’s but she thinkin’ Ocean Prime”) and plugs his latest label mate, Sheck Wes (“All I know it was Mo Bamba on repeat”). His flow at the end of the first verse (“Poppin’ that Gucci / This b—- down and groovy”) is straight off “Quintana Pt. 2,” which was my favorite song off his second mixtape.
4. “Carousel” (featuring Frank Ocean)
Premier Bar: “Sake drown like round white diamonds, carats / Copy sound, might got two wings, parrot”
A Frank Ocean feature — oh, s—! You’ve got to be joking. Prior to the long work day I had in which my manager decided to let the album play for three hours straight, this was the only song I gave a listen to. And I’ve got to say, what a great hook and feature from the enigmatic star.
Hit-Boy’s hectic production throws you in the dead center of whatever theme park Travis Scott is attempting to craft with all this stuff on here, and it’s as polished as it is manic.
3. “Sicko Mode” (featuring Drake)
Premier Bar: “This s— way too formal, y’all know I don’t follow suit / Stacey Dash, most of these girls ain’t got a clue”
This, by miles upon miles, is Scott’s best rapping on the album. That one bar was enough to convince me that he can still spit some, and his punchy flow throughout is another fragment that’s very reminiscent of anything off “Days Before Rodeo.”
He consistently manages to bring up Jamba Juice throughout the track (“I just landed in, Chase B mix this pop like Jamba Juice,” “LaFerarri, to Jamba Juice”) and Drake successfully managed to take his “Nonstop” flow, which is hard as f—, and say some stupid s— (“I did half a Xan, thirteen hours ‘til I land / Had me out like a light”). Yeah, that was whack, Drake.
But the song still has some memorable moments throughout, with each and every beat switch counting for one of them.
2. “Yosemite” (featuring Gunna and Nav)
Premier Bar: “Two-tone Pateks, in the Clearport like I Uber these jets / VVS’s on me got my Gucci shirt wet”
“Yosemite” seems to be the undisputed banger off the album, and that’s all thanks to Gunna, Young Stoner Life signee and one of Young Thug’s many proteges.
The track is eerily similar to Gunna’s collaboration with the rapidly rising Atlanta rapper Lil Baby, “Sold Out Dates,” and that song is such a banger. They are literally the same song, except that Scott’s consists of Nav faintly whispering some BS at the tail-end of the beat. But who cares? Gunna shines!
1. “R.I.P Screw” (featuring Swae Lee)
Premier Bar: “This s— S.U.C smooth like mane / Rest in peace Screw like mane”
You’ve got some ridiculously cliché Swae Lee lines on here (“If you fall for the games then you’re the one playin’”), but his vocals float so easily atop of Scott’s and FKi 1st’s cloudy, freakish production that consistently warps vocals and swirls in infinite circles.
Sonically, there is no denying that “R.I.P. Screw” is the best song on the album from top to bottom. When it comes to these spacey, dragged auto-tune drowned cuts that we’ve grown so accustomed to hearing from the guy, the track is easily the most impressive and concise of the bunch. And considering that’s the bizarre genre he’s trying to embellish as his, Scott mastered it on this one … but only this one.