Houston rapper Travis Scott has followed up his 2015 debut studio album Rodeo, with the highly anticipated sophomore album Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight (BTSM). MC and producer Travis Scott originally burst into the limelight as Kanye West’s wunderkind, earning himself production credits in West’s 2013 album Yeezus. Scott wasted no time in releasing his own music, putting out two mixtapes in the years following. His first album Rodeo’s redeeming qualities were its eerie and spacy trap instrumentals, as well as Scott’s now-famous autotuned, new-Atlanta sound. Scott’s second effort, BTSM, is star-studded– the album features production credits from hip-hop big hitters such as Boi-1da, Mike Dean, and WondaGurl as well as features from Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, and Young Thug. But, amidst all the creative collaboration, BTSM appears to desperately hold on to the sound Scott established in Rodeo without progressing much from it.
Sonically, some of the tracks on the album sound like they could be B-sides from Rodeo. The album starts off with the song “The Ends,” in which Scott attempts to deviate from his autotune-heavy vocals. Yet, stripping away Scott’s signature style, his vocal delivery and lyrical content do little to convince listeners of his ability as an MC, often reverting to one—liners reminiscent of 2000s hashtag rap. The following killer Andre 3000 verse doesn’t help Scott’s case, automatically revealing the weakness of Scott’s own lyricism.
The instrumentals are still as good as ever; however, some of the vocals are subpar to the point of almost sounding like the they were passed through a vocoder in order to sound like Future. The song “Coordinate” features a surprisingly awful hook by Scott where his singing sounds like he barely has a pulse. In another feature, on the song “Goosebumps”, Kendrick Lamar offers more pitch shifts in one verse than Scott does in the entire album. Scott attempts the extremely popular moody vocal sound; but it has already been executed better by artists like Future and Young Thug.
On one of the best tracks in the album, the summer banger, “Pick Up the Phone,” Young Thug comes through as another standout feature artist. This song features a synth-heavy instrumental and an enjoyably catchy hook.
Overall, Scott’s sophomore release is his most sonically consistent. Yet, the novelty of the sound he established in Rodeo wears thin by the first song in BTSM. Travis Scott has always worn his influences on his sleeve. Yet where other artists use their influences to develop and mature their own sound, Scott continues to be the jack of all trades and master of none. At the end of the day, Scott’s music will be at the top of any turn-up song lists but not necessarily any best of the year lists.
SOUNDS LIKE: Young Thug, Migos, Future
STANDOUT TRACK: pick up the phone
STANDOUT LYRIC: “Peter, piper, picked a pepper / So I could pick your brain and put your heart together.”