Jaques Webster, better known as Travis Scott (or Travi$ Scott for the cool kids), has been working with some huge names in the music industry. After signing to Epic records in 2012, Scott later signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music production wing (Very G.O.O.D Beats) as an in-house producer. Scott is also under southern trap king T.I.’s label, Grand Hustle. One dope mixtape later (Owl Pharaoh), Scott is gearing up to release his debut album, Rodeo, sometime in 2015. Instead of keeping his fans waiting, Travi$ decided to release a free album as a prequel to his debut called Days Before Rodeo. Scott co-produced the 12 tracks on the album that range from hazy drug-infused tracks to trap-heavy party records.
Scott raps over a boisterous WondaGurl-produced beat on intro track “The Prayer.” Picture cruising in an expensive car late at night in a deserted city; this song would definitely be playing in the background. Towards the end of “The Prayer,” the Yeezy influence kicks in with some distorted vocals and a beat that knocks even harder. I’m completely on board with this trip. The first single from the album, called “Mamacita,” is next. A guitar blares as a gritty beat gears up. Scott’s flow sounds dope over production like this and I can picture a crowd going crazy over a live performance of this track. Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug are featured on this track and I like what they bring to “Mamacita.”
Scott’s first mixtape, Owl Pharaoh, included a track called “Quintana” and he decided to bless us with part two on this album. “Quintana Pt. 2” has Scott sounding like Young Thug as he croons on the track. The production quickly shifts two minutes into the track with a surprise verse from T.I. “Tell me why she wanna leave me / she used me to get high.” Scott sounds like he’s having an internal monologue on some very strong marijuana. Drugs are the focus of the next track, “Drugs You Should Try.” Over a chill production, Scott is dealing with the effects of lost love and the drugs that played a part in his life. This tracks sounds like what coming down from a strong high must feel like and that unconcerned feeling can be felt on the somber track. “Drugs You Should Try” became one of my favorite tracks when I initially heard the album. Hearing “We were rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ rollin’ stones / when I’m all alone I wish you had a clone.” You can’t help but get lost in the production and lyrics on this one.
The next track, “Don’t Play,” pulls you even deeper into Travi$ Scott’s murky fantasy. Scott enlists Big Sean and The 1975 on the second single from Days Before Rodeo. When I saw this track on the listing, I was excited to hear what Scott created with one of my favorite rappers and an amazing band that made one of my favorite tracks at the time (“Girls”). Sean conquers his verse and I love blasting this song in my car with the Kanye West-sampled production. I don’t hear too many rappers collaborate with bands, so I appreciate Scott for doing something different and I would love to hear more bands experiment with this genre.
Young Thug makes another stop on “Skyfall,” a track Scott says is about the younger generation not connecting with old artists. Metro Boomin’s production on this track is haunting and the trap elements work well with Young Thug’s vocals. Scott’s lyrical content is extremely playful on the next track, “Zombies.” “You take too many martinis, she slip straight out bikini / She let me grand slam outside the Denny’s / How we gone get Oscar proud if they pay us penny’s?” “Zombies” is a winner for that Denny’s reference alone, but I love Scott’s wordplay on this track.
Scott didn’t slack on the production for Days Before Rodeo. As I listened to each track, I kept thinking how will Scott top what he did production-wise on the current track, then the next track plays and it exceeds what was heard before it. There aren’t too many artists out there with production this exciting and if the production is good, usually, the lyrics aren’t winning any awards. Scott does not disappoint on this album. “Sloppy Toppy” is my least favorite record on Days Before Rodeo, but it needs to be heard for some of the crazy lines in the track. I’ll give you a little preview: “She swallow my kids like a slurpee.”
The next track, “Backyard,” is a breath of fresh air after back-to-back party records. The production is slick and “Backyard” is a chill record that reminds me of Kendrick Lamar’s critically-acclaimed album, Good Kid M.A.A.D City. The last track, “Grey,” gives me extreme Kid Cudi vibes in the best way. It could easily have a spot on Man on the Moon, one of my favorite albums. I tend to overlook “Grey” because I really love the first half of the album but it definitely deserves a listen. “Grey” is a nice way to end the album, but Scott decided to give us a bonus track called “Bacc.” It’s a nice track, but it makes sense that it’s a bonus track; you wouldn’t be missing out if you never heard it.
Days Before Rodeo is an exciting album from a rapper that’s part of a wave of new artists trying to shake up hip-hop music. The production is insane, the bars are on point, and Scott needs to be on your radar if he isn’t already. It’ll be interesting to see who embraces Travis Scott’s artistry, because he has the kind of image that could have a cult following (like Odd Future and Machine Gun Kelly), or he could transition to mainstream success (like Mac Miller or Big Sean). Either way, I will absolutely be checking out the music.