Texas-born rapper Travis Scott has been cultivating hype for his debut LP for more than a year now. His earlier mixtape, Days Before Rodeo (2014), showcased a 12-track warm-up with a title that promised that this was only the beginning, which only makes the hit-or-miss main event Rodeo somewhat of a disappointment.
Days was arguably one of the best mixtapes released last year, an ambitious and original enterprise that justified Scott’s seat in XXL magazine’s list of the best up-and-coming rappers of the year, a mantle further justified by a production deal with Kanye West’s GOOD Music label. Rodeo is ambitious in a few ways; the album incorporates an impressive array of producers and featured artists, including Future, Kanye West, and even Justin Bieber. Still, it lacks the upward vision and momentum of its predecessor.
The intro track, “Pornography,” sets the scene for an album that centres on the ups and downs of a lifestyle of excess that protagonists Scott is never in fully in control of. Unfortunately, this celebrated sloppiness extends to the actual production of the album itself, which contains filler tracks and corny lines alongside occasional moments of brilliance. The buzzy hook, “I be flying high” on “Flying High,”makes the track irritatingly unlistenable despite feature artist Toro y Moi’s refreshingly melodic verses. “Piss On Your Grave,” featuring Kanye West, is jarringly aggressive in the midst of the melancholy and introspection of the other tracks.
It’s telling that of the best two tracks from the debut—previously-released bangers “3500” and “Antidote”—one was never meant to be included. A symptom of the scattered assembly of tracks that fail to give Rodeo any real cohesion, resulting in a dismal display for a debut album.