A year ago today Travis Scott released Rodeo. It was one of the best projects of 2015, competing against names like Kendrick Lamar, Tyler, ASAP Rocky and Vince Staples: Showing the quality of the album and just how far Travis has come since his debut Owl Pharoah mixtape in 2013, where he was still clearly a kid, learning his craft. Rodeo still bumps today; songs like 90210, 3500, Oh My Dis Side, Never Catch Me and of course Antidote still get regular playtime on my iTunes. So first things first, Happy 1st Birthday to Rodeo.
But 2 days ago we got Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight. After months and months of false release dates, lack of updates and delays, Travis premiered the album Friday afternoon on his very own .WAV RADIO show on Beats 1. Another W for Apple Music. The album had been anticipated for months and the greatness of Pick Up The Phone only excited fans more, and possibly gained Travis new fans due to the success and popularity of the song. Living up to heightened expectations is difficult, not everyone can do it. Not everyone is Kanye West, Frank Ocean or Kendrick Lamar. Some people fall under the pressure, play it safe and don’t live up to the expectations….Views. (Another story for another day.)
Travis showed the featureless track list 30 minutes before the show started, leaving listeners guessing and waiting. The intro song – The Ends – starts and sounds like classic Travis. Dark and melodic. Then Travis took a page from the Frank Ocean book, or vice versa, and stunned us all with a rare and magical Andre 3000 verse. ON THE INTRO. A sign of the great things to come for the rest of the album.
Way Back came up next, clearly featuring backing vocals from Kid Cudi. Travis’s co-host Chase B claimed this is his favourite from the album, although this could change every week. But it’s easy to see why this was his early favourite. Coordinate was up next, another classic Travis song, with an introduction from Blac Youngsta, probably the highlight of his career, unless you include him counting money on The Breakfast Club.
Through The Late Night was the song we were all waiting for, even though we didn’t know it yet. Kid Cudi x Travis Scott. Scott x Scott. Travis allowed his idol to take over the song and almost make it Kid Cudi feat Travis Scott; the ultimate sign of respect and and it gave us one Cudi’s best performances in recent memory (minus Father Stretch My Hands), making us forgive and forget about Speedin Bullet 2 Heaven for 5 minutes. Travis’s reference to Cudi’s breakout single Day N Nite only makes this song even better. One of the highlights of the album upon first listen.
Travis then got upcoming Canadian star Nav on Beibs In The Trap. The song name alone will attract attention and bring in listeners, expecting to hear Justin Bieber’s voice, but instead, you hear Nav. The biggest feature and spotlight of Nav’s career thus far, potentially making or breaking him in this brutal industry. But he delivered, as did every other feature on the album, but Nav’s performance might be the standout feature.
Even though the album is covered with features, they don’t take away the spotlight. They merely borrow it for their verse or chorus, and then Travis takes it right back. Each feature either adds to the song or brings another element to the song. Travis doesn’t have somebody featured for the sake of it. There was a VERY rare feature from Bryson Tiller on First Take, one of his best vocal performances to date. Even XXL Freshman 21 Savage had a feature on the song Outside, which I dare say, I enjoyed. Travis of course, does his thing on both of these songs, again; giving the spotlight to them, giving them their shine and then taking it right back, reminding us all, it’s HIS album.
Only 2 songs out of the 14 are featureless, including the song Travis claimed is his personal favourite; Sweet Sweet. A typically great Travis Scott song; a strong melody with an incredible beat change towards the end, adding another element to the song. Classic LA FLAME.
My personal favourite song was Goosebumps. 20 second snippets of this song had been on Twitter for months under the name ‘Can’t Relate.’ This song was worth the wait. Very rarely is one song worth such a long, drastic wait. Just ask Desiigner; the roll out and delay of Timmy Turner made the song itself underwhelming. But this is Travis Scott; I’m disappointed in myself that I thought he would let me down with this one. Then King Kendrick came in halfway through and solidified this song my highlight of the album.
The album needs more time. You can’t score an album after 2 days. You can’t compare it to Rodeo, which has had a year to settle in and has a completely different sound. To all those who said Travis was a one trick pony, he corrected them all. To those who said his sound can get boring; he brought you a new, perhaps even better sound.
Birds (for short) lived up to its high expectations. I expect to see it on many ‘BEST ALBUMS OF 2016’ lists – including my own list – right up there with TLOP, Lemonade, Anti, Blonde and Coloring Book. An exclusive club.
For now, we let the birds chirp.