There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute: Travi$ Scott’s Rodeo

Do not protect Travi$ Scott at all costs.
By    September 9, 2015


Dan From the Internet Will Never Stop Going In.

On his major label debut, Travi$ Scott proves that he’s not a rapper,¹ but rather a sentient Tumblr account better at aggregating content than actually creating it. He’s a faceless mannequin without past or future, no personal narrative, no existential statement, or anything of social consequence to say.  His first official album Rodeo fails to answer the question, who is Travi$ Scott? But more importantly, it never even answers the question of why anyone should’ve cared in the first place.

You can go through the entirety of Rodeo without hearing a single coherent set of 16 bars. It’s almost ironic that “Pornography” is the first song, seeing as the album is a constant exercise in masturbatory self-pleasure. Travi$ indulges in his worst tendencies and vocal crutches to obscure his unrelenting mediocrity–a constant onslaught of butchered autotune melodies and reverb barks; it makes it feel like you’re listening to diet-Yeezus. Now with 40% less talent. By the time the song’s over, it’s clear that it’ll be album that no amount of T.I. pontificating can save.

For better or worse,Rodeo is an album of two halves. Quavo’s performance on “Oh My Dis Side” is the fragile crux by which the first half teeters. Young Thug’s impassioned croon on “Maria I’m Drunk” is the watershed moment that balances the album’s 2nd half. Quavo and Thug exert such an intense artistic pressure and vision that you’re left wondering whose album this really is. It’s definitely not Travi$’s: 7 of the 14 songs on Rodeo are anchored by an Atlanta rapper and at least half a dozen Atlanta beat makers make up the album’s liner notes.² Travi$ is an industry plant lording over his Atlanta contemporaries, cracking the corporate whip screaming “WORK FASTER, FASTER, THIS ALBUM ISN’T GONNA WRITE ITSELF.”

The identity crisis at the center of Rodeo is the album’s biggest weakness. Hip-hop is largely a genre of clichés. No matter what type of rapper you are, the audience expects a structured story arc of personal struggle and perseverance. There’s only one moment on the album where Travi$ seems vaguely human. “My granny called she said Travi$ you work too hard, I’m worried you forget about me.” It’s the sole evidence of humanity on an album totally devoid of any emotion. As I type this, I remember that this moment of sincerity was preceded by a pornstar cooing, “I hope it was wet like my jumper though.” It most likely never occurred to Travi$ that talking about a pornstar’s vaginal secretions on a song where you reference your grandmother might be in poor taste.

Rodeo is nothing more than hip-hop’s latest Urban Outfitter’s soundtrack. It’s an album about nothing, from a rapper who has nothing to say. This is an album where the line, “My dick longer than a Pringle box” isn’t even the most offensive thing said. On “I Can Tell” Travi$ sings, “blinga, blanga, banga rapper, banga a rang, I brought my money back Orangutan, diamonds hanging on my nangalang, bitches hanging on my dangalang.” It was at this moment that Travi$ entered the prestigious club of Kanye affiliates who should just stop rapping—of which Kid Cudi and CyHi are founding members. Travi$ Scott is the byproduct of a generation too afraid to tell their friends early on, “hey man, you’re terrible.”

Somewhere J. Cole is wiping sweat off his unibrow, ecstatic that he is no longer critics’ enduring punching bag. A multitude of journalists have praised the album’s production and guest features as a way to avoid the bandwagon Travi$ bashing. The production is lush and bombastic—but making the production a scapegoat for Travi$’s deficiencies is a disservice to listeners. Metro Boomin’, Zaytoven, Sonny Digital, DJ Dahi etc… all deliver beats that sound like Travi$ could have been potentially holding their families at gun point. But if your only excuse for listening to this album is that the production is great, there are a thousand other projects from brilliant Atlanta producers and rappers that don’t feature Travi$’s signature squawk.³

There’s no reason for Rodeo to exist. Travi$ is nothing more than sonic tofu, coagulated bean curd that takes on the flavor of anything closest to it. He’s a derivative artist who can’t decide between worshipping at the church of Kanye or actively stealing from his contemporaries in Atlanta. He’s a man who is defined more by his peers than by any original idea of his own. After listening to Rodeo you won’t leave remembering any of Travi$’s verses, hooks, lessons etc… Maybe Rodeo is an album for the times, a generic record so devoid of any personal or emotional depth that anyone can relate. Or…..maybe it’s just bad.

1. “I am everything except a rapper” – “Apple Pie” (Travi$’s words not mine)
2. The next time someone tries to defend Travi$’s mediocrity as a rapper by explaining they only like him as a producer, explain that he only has 2 production credits on his own album.

3. DS2, Monster, Beast Mode, 56 Nights, Barter 6, The Blue M&M 2, Sremmlife, If You Ever Think I Will Stop Goin’ in Ask RR (Royal Rich), Only Way Is Up, Yung Rich Nation, Trapavelli Tre

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