Case Study One: Travis Scott
*5 minute read*
Appealing To The Masses
As artists go through phases during their careers, the musical pieces released by them may affect their legacy in the long run. An album that an entertainer created when they first started may be completely different from an album they make six years down the line. They learn to grow, evolve, and some even change their image completely. We like consistency, but we do not want to hear the same message being preached on four different releases. At least I don’t. I got it the first time—you like women, money, and cars. Try a new theme maybe?
For every artist or every memorable artist rather, they have that moment in time where it all comes together. They create a special body of work and leave an imprint on their respective genres. They are in pocket (standard abbreviation for in the zone) the whole project, the songs come together correctly, the instrumentation accompanies the track appropriately, and the theme of the album is consistent throughout the run time of the project.
This will be referred to as “Prime Time”— a state where the musician has created a body of work that fits the criteria I have mentioned above. They have reached their prime form, generating the best thing I have heard from them… so far (hoping that they still surprise me in the future). It may also be an album that I felt impacted the music world more when compared to the other projects they have released.
For the sake of these articles being too long, this will be split up into pieces. Several artists will be mentioned throughout this series, each having their own time to shine. Now that we have established our criteria, let us move on to the first artist I have selected.
Prime Travis Scott – Rodeo
The energy that Travis created this album with needs to be found, locked in a briefcase, and sprinkled all over the rest of his projects. The rest of his discography is exceptional, but the entirety of Rodeo is like nothing I have heard ever before. With Rodeo, Travis left an unbelievable impression on me.
Travis creates music that has a futuristic 3005 (a fantastic song by Childish Gambino by the way) appeal to it, with the unorthodox instrumentation and odd placement of the drums. It is bizarre and spacey, and his auto-tune is used differently when compared to his peers in the music scene. It all comes together extremely well and is highlighted on his debut album Rodeo. A 14-track project with a 75 minute run time, Travis delivers a conceptual album showing the world that he has arrived and he is here to stay.
Rodeo is one of the only albums I have heard where the beat switch-ups in between songs create further appeal and offer a refreshing sound. It is not easy to do, but Travis creates a specific atmosphere for each single on the record, a signature aspect of his artistry.
Highlights On The Tracklist
Oh My Dis Side starts the album off with an infectious hook. It hits you deep in the chest, shakes your core and as the song intensifies, it forces you to continuously bop your head. But when the beat switches up to Dis Side… (dis sideee, dis sideee) it elevates the song higher. Quavo from the Migos offers another element to the song that makes everything come together. An ideal song to listen to when you are cruising home in your car. If you do not have a car, the subway gives you the same feeling (eh, sometimes).
90210 lures you in like a lullaby, but this time it is to wake you up, not put you to sleep. Lacy Hill, a singer who features on the song, floats over the instrumentation with ease, adding to the lullaby before the boom-bap beat takes over. At first, I felt the beat switch-up was unnecessary, as I thought Travis should have kept the vibe going. But after multiple listens, I understand where he was coming from. In the second part of 90210, he gets his raps off, articulating situations with his family and friends, and includes braggadocios bars about his come up in the game. Brilliant track and again, it sounded like Travis accomplished this with ease.
Leaving the song, Maria I’m Drunk for last was necessary because it is one of the greatest songs I have heard. Period. The first part of the track is incredibly spacey and the vocal performance from Travis is phenomenal. I wish it had a stand-alone version, as I am sure many of you do also, but the second part made up for this. The hook from Young Thug is simple, yet catchy (which is exactly what a hook is supposed to be). But having Justin Bieber on the track was surprisingly the biggest W (standard abbreviation for a win) of the song. Bieber’s feature offers a different element to the track. Singing his section of the song proved to be essential, as it provided a contagious aura. It is straight to the point, supports the theme of the song, and flows nicely back into the chorus. All we can ask for with a feature, right? Although Young Thug’s verse is hilarious and I laugh every time I hear it (go look at the lyrics and you will know why), it delivers the necessary balance to close out the song and end with the chorus.
The bangers Travis was able to deliver on this record is sensational. A lot of risks were taken and I do not know how he did it, but Travis provided something special. Maybe it had to do with him trying to prove himself, and looking to show the world what he is capable of, but I want this Travis again. I need this Travis again. Rodeo is his prime form. He has shown flashes of it with his work post-Rodeo, but something is missing. Travis was close with his project, Birds in the Trap, but Rodeo to me has greater range and depth to it. I wish him the best of luck for his future. Notice how I did not need to mention Antidote arguably his most catchy song to date? (You hear the first line alone and it’s in your head for the rest of the day).
Give Your Opinion
This album showed me how much it takes to create a classic album. It demonstrated to me the importance of production, instrumentation, and how there are many layers for just one song to come together. Many of you may agree or disagree with me, but I would like to hear what you think about all I have shared. I hope I have provided greater insight on my topic of Prime Time and how this artist has exhibited it. Thanks for reading, share with a friend, and also answer this question:
“What is your favorite Travis Scott album?”