On “Never Catch Me”, the last song on the deluxe version of Travis Scott’s debut album Rodeo, he raps “They say I can make it to the league mama.” and before I finished listening to the album, I was inclined to agree with him.
In contrast, to what some writers at Deadspin think, I always felt that Travis Scott had the talent to become an All-Star rapper. For proof, go to a Travis Scott show, which have almost become a baptism of sweat for new La Flame fans.
After watching him live for the first time at SXSW this year, I couldn’t help but feel that I was watching a star in the making. I left his unbelievable hype show thinking, “If Travis Scott works half as hard off stage as he does on stage, not only is he making the league, he’s gonna win some chips”
Every couple of years, you have these prodigiously talented high school basketball players with the talent to skip college and jump right into the NBA. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Tracy Mcgrady, just to name a few. Likewise, there are certain rap artists who have the confidence and skills necessary to jump from relative obscurity straight to mainstream stars with their debut albums.
Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar are rappers who from the very jump made it known that they would be a problem for years to come in the rap game. Unfortunately for Travis Scott, his debut album feel more like the work of a young Sebastian Telfair than a young Tracy Mcgrady.
Every young player models their game after their favorite star, Kobe had Jordan, and it easy to see the Kanye influence on Scott’s Rodeo album. The difference in reverence is that Scott looks at Kanye as someone to emulate, whereas Kobe looked at Jordan as someone to surpass. Even if it meant that he would have to rub other players the wrong way.
However, at this point in his career it is impossible for Scott to properly emulate Kanye. He doesn’t have the discography, jersey sales or MVP votes. So when almost every song on Rodeo has a feature, Travis doesn’t sound like a star, he sounds like a good rookie on a great team.
On Travis’s much more enjoyable Days Before Rodeo mixtape, the lack of features, allowed Travis Scott to shine, like a great player on a bad team, putting up numbers and feeling himself. His confidence lead to an album filled with songs that felt like the work of a player ready to make a superstar leap.
On “Antidote”, the second single from Rodeo, Travis sings, “I just hit a three-peat”, but we haven’t seen the rings, we haven’t seen the box scores, we haven’t heard the screaming pundits. Rodeo feel like the work of rookie trying to convince himself he is a MVP candidate. With Travis’s talent, I don’t doubt that one day he can be an MVP, but at this moment Travis is just a good player who refuses to use his talents in the best ways, like a big man who refuses to play down low.
If you were to list Scott’s number one skill, pre-draft, it would be his high motor. On the first half of “Oh My Dis Side” Travis’s energy practically bleeds through your speakers, it is a good example of how to build a play around Travis. Give Travis a banging beat and tell him to turn up, but halfway through the song the beat switches up, the second half sounding like to a R&B track, with a crooning Quavo from Migos.
I am not trying to say that Travis has no game away from the basket, standout 90210 is a slow burning track, but when Travis is committed to a specific mood on his songs the album works better. The schizophrenic switching of moods leaves Rodeo feeling inconsistent.
The lack of song consistency doesn’t allow Rodeo to pick up momentum, making songs more skippable than they should be. Travis Scott is the player who is quick enough to beat a guy of a dribble, but ends up crossing over too many times and allows the defender to force him into a bad shot. Travis wants to be a star right now, when all people expect from him is to show an evolution on the promise that got so many scouts and fans excited in the first place.
Rodeo is Travis Scott’s attempt at curating his Hall of Fame highlight reel, but in the end all he is left with is an AND1 mixtape.
You can stream Rodeo here: