Questions Before Rodeo

On a bi-weekly basis, I like to take the time to simplify my digital existence, the likes of which include but are not limited to: cleaning up my email, deleting any extraneous pictures off of my phone, erasing any drunk texts that I may have definitely sent (and subsequently regretted), and ridding my DMs of the grit and grime that populate the Twittersphere.

Of these chores, I must admit that the DM swipe is undoubtedly my favorite. My inbox, I’m sorry to say, is not a trip down thirst trap lane — no — but rather a bevy of “check out my mixtape” requests. And while I’m flattered that a myriad of fuck boys perceive me to be some sort of plug, the truth is that I’m not the only one dealing with this absurd  oversaturation of underground efforts. We could simply chalk up this haggling as a product of the Internet era, but the reality is that I’m sick and tired of the quantity over quality mentality that is pre-wired into the DNA of today’s hip-hop “artists.”

Luckily, there are a select few artists in the game that choose to implement a different modus operandi, and there is no better example than M o t i o n . . . mascot Travi$ Scott. La Flame’s been on since 2011, but he isn’t the type of artist that attempts to sustain his buzz with weekly song drops and OD marketing efforts. Trav would rather obsess over drum loops and give a bomb ass show every night rather than shove product in his fans faces every few months. With two high quality projects already notched on his belt, Owl Pharaoh (2013) and Days Before Rodeo (2014), the build up for his debut solo album, Rodeo, is at an all time high.

Many fans were under the impression that Scott, born Jacques Webster, would be releasing Rodeo some time shortly after Days dropped last August, but it’s obvious that Trav’s been taking his time to craft a scorcher of a freshman album. And while he’s been busy tearing through the European leg of his Rodeo tour, spitting on fans, and performing at Lucha libre events, Scott’s cult following rejoiced July 16 when he announced that Rodeo will officially be released on September 4 of this year. After months years of uncertainty regarding the album’s drop date, it’s a relief to finally know when we can expect La Flame to take us on a Mo-City trip, but with only a release date and two singles already on the waves, there’s still a hazy cloud of ambiguity surrounding the project. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some questions before Rodeo . . .

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What sound is he trying to prove?

In no way is Travi$ a newbie to the game, but with the amount of shade he’s been getting over the course of the past year, it’s safe to say that he’s got shit on notice. Sure, one of the keys to success is being able to come to the realization that not everyone is going to applaud your accomplishments, and with the existence of Twitter everyone and their brother has the opportunity to immortalize their “expert” opinions, but since dropping Days last summer, the reception to Scott’s jams hasn’t always been positive.

The hate dates back first to February, when Deadspin writer Billy Haisley’s piece “Travis Scott is Worse Than Iggy Azalea” referred to the Houston rapper as “a shameless biter.” Haisley’s piece deconstructs Scott’s second project, all the while questioning the rapper’s ascent to stardom.

“Travis Scott has stolen whole cloth basically every idea he’s ever expressed on a record.”

Whoa. The rest of the article went on to draw correlations between Scott’s music and that of some of his biggest inspirations, Kanye and KiD CuDi, but in my opinion it fails to capture to essence of Scott’s artistry. His animalistic bravado is much more jarring than that of Ye or Cudder, and while the content of his songs may sound similar, this is hip-hop that we’re talking about, right?

Strong accusations, sure, but Haisley’s not the only one with choice words to share. On June 8 Scott dropped Rodeo‘s lead single titled “3500,” a 7 minute banger produced by Metro Boomin’ that features Atlanta products Future and 2 Chainz. After the song’s release, Atlanta newcomer OG Maco made sure the world knew that he wasn’t exactly impressed with Scott’s effort.

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It is undeniable that Scott chose to aggregate a stacked deck for his first release, but is that anything that we haven’t seen before? And shouldn’t it be a testament to the respect that other big name artists have for Scott’s talent that they’re willing to get on a song with him? Maco backed down later and went on to say that he’s a fan of Travi$, but I find it hard to understand what exactly it was that the ATL artist was getting at. State and regional borders were torn down with the dawn of the internet era, and it seems childish (not to mention envious) to critique an artist that wants to work with other talented artists solely because they’re from a different spot on the map. Unfortunately for La Flame though, his second release drew even more negative buzz.

Trav’s next release, titled “Antidote” received even more industry flack, this time from producer Mike Will Made It. After Scott dropped the sing-songy track, the Atlanta beat smith decided to take it upon himself to indirectly address the similarities between Scott’s sound, and that of Rae Sremmurd artist Swae Lee.

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Admittedly, the track is much more melodic than we are typically used to on a La Flame track, so much so that HYPETRAK initially reported that the song’s first verse was contributed by OVO Sound crooner PARTYNEXTDOOR. That being said, it doesn’t take too much delving into the La Flame catalog to come across genre defying vocals, as can be seen on earlier joints like “Analogue” and even “16 Chapels.”

With all of these biting accusations and questions of authenticity surrounding Scott, it’s intriguing to wonder where he will take his sound for the majority of the Rodeo. In a tweet that has since been deleted, he was quoted as saying “The youth has a sound that I will prove,” alluding that the sonic strength of his album would be propelled mostly by young, up-and-coming artists. Based on the early contributions from Scott, Metro, and frequent collaborator Wondagurl, one thing is for sure — Scott’s jams will continue to reinforce notions of youthful defiance, and those messages will be slammed home by a barrage of bass, spastic hi-hats, and cinematic scores. Saddle up.


Will there be any Ye sightings?

With the two previously mentioned projects already in his catalog, Scott’s relevance on the hip-hop scene has undoubtedly been solidified. And while some artists in today’s game have chosen to take the independent, unsigned route, Travis’ plan of attack is a unique case in its own right. Upon dropping out of college and building a buzz out in LA with tracks like “Lights (Love Sick),” La Flame drew the attention of Grand Hustle commander T.I., eventually signing a deal with the Atlanta OG . Around the same time, however, Scott began collaborating with engineer Anthony Kilhoffer, as well as H-Town native and Yeezus right-hand-man Mike Dean, which eventually led to Scott also signing a production deal with Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music.

Over his first two projects, Trav has been gracious enough to bless us with some Tip features (Upper Echelon, Quintana Pt. 2), but aside from his co-production efforts with Ye and few ad-libs on Big Sean’s “All Your Fault,” we’ve yet to bare witness to the hypothetical greatness that comes with a La Flame/Yeezy collab. Having Ye on your G.O.O.D. freshman effort is essentially a pre-requisite to dopeness, and Travi$ even noted last week on LA’s Power 106 that “it’s (the album) everyone that I haven’t done a song with,” so only time will tell as to whether or not we will finally see Ye and Trav spit on the same track.

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How much will La Flame grace the production credits?

Much like his mentor Kanye West, Trav came into the game most notably as a producer. With production credit for bangers like Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” Ye’s “All Day” and “New Slaves,” and his own Big Sean collab “Don’t Play,” La Flame has done a damn good job flexing his production muscle over the course of his journey. However, if you take a look at the production credits for his two projects, you will notice that he has steadily had less of an influence on his beats. He produced a total of ten tracks on Owl Pharaoh, but only clocked in with production efforts on three tracks on his follow up Days Before Rodeo. Both projects succeeded in carrying out a cohesive musical environment, but it’s only logical that if Trav wants his freshman album to truly reflect his transformation from Jacques Webster to Travi$ Scott, he’ll take a hands on approach to the curation of each track. Fans can rest easy in knowing that Trav recently told Power 106 that “We created all the joints from scratch. We did no beats over email. We just worked hands on.”


Will we finally bear witness to the big brother Cudder collab?

If the hypothetical Kanye feature isn’t enough to excite La Flame’s cult following, the fact that the album finally has a release date should rile up the masses. It’s long been documented by Scott himself that his biggest inspiration growing up was Cleveland musical anarchist KiD CuDi, and Travi$ was quoted in March by MTV as saying “I won’t put out my album unless I have KiD CuDi on it, so when you see me drop a date you know I’ve got KiD CuDi on my album.” With September 4 now only 48 days away, one would assume that Trav’s pie in the sky feature fantasy has been granted, and that he and Scott Mescudi have joined forces to construct a track that melds together two of the music industry’s most rebellious rock stars.

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From a conceptual standpoint, the idea of Travi$ and Cudder coming together to make the rager of all ragers is intriguing, but this is a collab with infinite possibilities. Since his earlier years of MOTM and MOTM2, CuDi’s musical talents have both skyrocketed and deviated from his earlier sounds. Surely, the metaphysical journey that Scott Mescudi began on six years ago draws many correlations to that of Scott’s own navigation towards stardom, but from a content standpoint these two artists don’t necessarily blend as well as they might have during CuDi’s younger years. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to get excited over Travi$ living out his dreams and paying the ultimate homage to Mr. Rager himself.


What will come of this “tangible” release? 

“The way I’m dropping my album this year is different than others. All that surprise album shit is dead for, but I have a new way I’m about to drop my album and it seems to be fresh. It’s gonna be super tangible and super attracted to the kids.” 

This quote, extracted from the same MTV interview where Travi$ referenced his collab with CuDi, has been a point of focus for me over the past few months. I’ve racked my brain over and over on how Travi$ might drop Rodeo once the time finally comes, but ultimately I’ll have to wait along with the rest of you. Will Scott drop the album via one of the new streaming services like TIDAL or Apple Music? Will he and his team develop an app that you can purchase and download straight to your phone? What if he DMs the download link to all of his Twitter followers? Am I wasting my time guessing? Probably. But the fact of the matter is that Ye decided to project “New Slaves” onto buildings all over the world, and if Travi$’ release idea is anywhere near as original as that, his fans will be pleasantly surprised.

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Over the course of the next 46 days before Rodeo, there is sure to be a flurry of more details dropped regarding the album and its rollout. Trav is notoriously ambiguous with releasing information about his projects (and pushing them back), but nevertheless it’s refreshing that we finally have a target date on the calendar. In the meantime, turn up to Antidote and 3005, try not to rage too hard before the Rodeo, and make sure to check out my 24 hour listening diary once La Flame blesses our ears with the trillest shit of 2015.


 

Follow Travi$ on Twitter here.

Follow Travi$ on Instagram here.

Buy “3500” featuring Future and 2 Chainz on iTunes here.

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