Although we were first properly introduced to Travis Scott in 2012 on GOOD Music’s compilation album ‘Cruel Summer’, on the song Sin City, he did not create a name for himself until 2013; where he appeared on the XXL Freshman cover with other upcoming exciting talent like ScHoolboy Q, Joey Bada$$ and Logic, and at age 21, released his debut, almost entirely self produced mixtape entitled Owl Pharoah. Considering the fact that there was not much buzz around the name Travis Scott, who had recently signed to T.I’s Grand Hustle label and signed to GOOD Music but only as a producer, the fact that the mixtape features the likes of T.I. himself, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill and A$AP Ferg bought instant attention to the project. When listening to Owl Pharoah, you can tell it is a debut, as it is clear that Travis Scott has found/created a darker, EDM kind of sound and style of Hip-Hop that suits him best and will now spend his career perfecting and mastering that sound. He came into the genre with a completely different sound to anybody else at the time, much like The Weeknd in R&B. The mixtape does have some stand out songs like Upper Echelon and Hell of a Night, but other than that, there is not much about it that demands replays.
Later in 2013, after creating a small name for himself, he then was given production credits on 3 Hip-Hop albums that reached #1 in the charts. Yeezus, The Gifted and Magna Carta Holy Grail. The songs he produced on each of these albums all feature the same darker melodic sound of Travis’s solo records, which shows from early that he did not intend to change his sound for the mainstream media or radio play, which is to be admired and also respected, as it shows the confidence that Travis Scott must have in his music that he feels he does not need to change it for anyone.
Producing on the Kanye West album Yeezus was a big move for Travis Scott, both professionally and personally. He was now seen as someone under Kanye West’s mentorship, and Travis has stated that Kanye West and Kid Cudi are both his musical idols. He once stated in an interview with MTV News that the first time he met Kid Cudi, Cudi played him new music in his car and Travis sat there crying, in disbelief that he had accomplished so much in such a short time that his idols were personally acknowledging and respecting him. Something that all people who are chasing their dreams can relate to and aspire to happen to them one day.
Then in mid 2014, Travis released his second mixtape, Days Before Rodeo. The mixtape link was tweeted by big artists that featured on it, such as Young Thug, Big Sean and T.I. But a tweet from Kanye West, promoting the mixtape although he had not been featured or produced on the mixtape showed that Travis Scott has received the Kanye West co-sign, which would positively influence anybody’s career. The mixtape was an instant success, with songs like Don’t Play, Mamacita and Skyfall getting consistent plays in clubs, while Travis was getting praise maintaining and increasing the dark, EDM sound he uses on his records. This mixtape features many more producers than on Owl Pharoah, such as Metro Boomin, Lex Luger and Vinylz and showed to have a positive effect on Travis’s music.
Although Travis Scott did not have any radio play at the time, he announced that he would be going on a 23 city nationwide tour with Young Thug, who was one of the biggest names in Hip-Hop at the time with hits like Stoner, Lifestyle and About The Money on constant replay in clubs and on the radio. The tour, known as The ‘Rodeo Tour’ was acclaimed for being energetic and crazy, almost like a rock show. Travis has stated many times that he sees his himself like a rock star and wants his shows to be as energetic as Rodeo’s, due to his Houston upbringing. Considering the fact that Travis had no album out, for him to be selling out shows across the country and selling out tour merchandise in every city, it was clear that Travis was having an impact on Hip-Hop culture and that people were gravitating to his sound and him as a person, performer and artist.
While on The ‘Rodeo Tour’, Travis began playing new songs at live shows and claiming that he was working on his debut album. Then, while on tour, in mid 2015, he released the single 3500, featuring 2 Chainz and Future – who was having by far the best year of his career. The song was solid, with probably the best Future guest verse of the year, but at 7 minutes long, playtime in clubs was limited and non-existent on the radio. But then, the second single, Antidote, was released and became by far the biggest hit to Travis’s career so far. Produced by Travis’s ‘prodigy’ WondaGurl, the song became, and remains a hit, having charted at number 16 on Billboard and certified platinum in USA. The single still contains the darker melodic sound heard on Travis’s earlier music, and even though Travis is not lyrically amazing, the quality of his music somehow pleasantly distracts you from that. The fact that he mentioned the first half of the song is freestyled in an interview with Clique only makes the single more amazing. This single was proof that Travis could maintain the sound he has gained so many fans from and still have commercial success, even though it does not effect him or his music at all. In the weeks leading up to the album, Travis appeared in a Beats By Dre commercial where he was recording an unheard song titled ‘Never Catch Me’, giving fans a hint of what his upcoming album would sound like. To this day it remains one of my favourite commercials of all time.
He then released Rodeo in September 2015, with a host of A-List features including; Kanye West, The Weeknd and Justin Bieber. The album came with huge expectation from fans, and it delivered. The album sold 70,000 first week and peaked at #3 on the charts, but this was not important to Travis nor his fans. Travis’s sound was as dark and melodic as ever, with songs like Piss On Your Grave and Oh My Dis Side highlighting that. With the album being 14 songs long and at least 11 of them able to get significant play time, I consider Rodeo to be a success and positive step in Travis’s career. He then went on tour with The Weeknd at the end of 2015, increasing his popularity and expanding his rapidly growing fan base.
Now, in 2016, Travis has already been making huge moves, maintaining popularity and relevance without the need for radio play or constant interviews. His production and unfeatured adlibs on Rihanna’s song Woo, one of the best songs on Anti, helped as he then went on the Anti tour with Rihanna, again, expanding his fanbase. He had an incredible remix to one of the hottest songs of the year (Uber Everywhere), he is clearly considered a valuable part of the GOOD Music family, appearing on the chorus of the first single from Cruel Winter, titles ‘Champions’, that just about features everyone. His single Pick Up The Phone featuring Young Thug and Quavo has gained serious attention and Travis has recently said to expect his new album BIRDS IN THE TRAP SING MCKNIGHT ‘any day now’, which is exciting news for any Travis Scott fans.
Travis Scott is here to stay. His ability to stay relevant and important in Hip-Hop without hardly any radio play shows the decline of the importance of radio and shows signs of a new era in music. By surrounding himself with people who are already considered legends in Hip-Hop (Kanye, Pusha T), Travis seems that he could become a household name and one day a legend in his own right.