With the release of his highly anticipated album “Astroworld,” Travis Scott is undoubtedly having a great 2018. Since the album’s release in August, “Astroworld” has peaked at number one on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums list. Songs like “Sicko Mode” rank in the top 10 in the Billboard Top 100 Songs, followed by “Stargazing” and “Yosemite” being at numbers 40 and 58.
In his three years in the mainstream music cycle, Travis Scott has proven himself to be an amazing music artist, and producer. With two number one albums and a widely recognized hip-hop classic with his 2015 effort “Rodeo,” a Grammy nomination, a newborn baby girl, and a chocolate Lamborghini, many would think that Travis Scott doesn’t have anything more to prove.
However, I disagree. Travis Scott is becoming one of the greatest artists of our generation, but in order to become one of the greatest artists of all time in the field of hip-hop he needs to prove himself as a rapper post-“Astroworld.”
Since the release of his 2013 mixtape “Owl Pharoah,” we have periodically gotten glimpses of how good Travis is on the microphone lyrically. His music is plastered with subliminal messages and symbolism as well as some lyrical content here and there. An example of this is “Apple Pie,” a song from his first album “Rodeo.”
“I don’t want your apple pie, mama
Yeah, I ain’t tryna dap up niggas blockin’ me
Yeah, made it out the spot, straight to Quintana
And I’m still that nigga with diamonds on my blocka
I need my own pepper pepper, please, pepper, pepper seeds
Need my own reme-remedy, my own legacy
Yeah I don’t want your apple pie, mama
I need my own pepper please
My own legacy, my own recipe”
Through his Auto-Tuned vocals, Travis raps about not wanting his mom’s “apple pie,” which really is a euphemism for not wanting a hand-out from his mom and her job with Apple Inc. He raps about and wanting his “own recipe” which translates into him paving his own way and creating his own legacy.
Travis tends to have a lot of solid verses that show some lyrical abilities. However, due to what can be seen as an overload of references to drugs, riches, girls, and sex, the impact of his statements are often washed away. On the last song on “Astroworld” titled, “COFFEE BEAN,” Scott does a good job of avoiding the repetitive nature of these topics and instead talks about his relationship with Kylie Jenner and the backlash he receives from it, along with being a black male in his circumstances. “COFFEE BEAN” shows a more vulnerable and lyrical side to Scott that’s not seen in most of his mainstream music.
“How would you feel if I had you?
Trust me, you would be mad too (this is all)
Shawty, we can be mad cool
Just hit me if anything past due
Your family told you I’m a bad move
Plus, I’m already a black dude
Leavin’ the bathroom, my hands is half-rinsed
If only a ni**a just had sense”
But because of the state of hip-hop now, where references to drugs, money, and sex are seen as a commodity and lyricism is not, we probably won’t be seeing songs from Scott like this that reach the mainstream level.
On the contrary, what Travis Scott doesn’t make up for in lyricism and subject matter, he makes up in storytelling.
In terms of telling stories in music, Travis is one of the best at it right now. Songs like “90210,” “Oh My Dis Side” “Drugs You Should Try It,” “Grey” and “the ends” (which features Andre 3000, one of the greatest storytellers in rap history) are just a few examples of how talented he is when it comes to telling a story on a beat.
In “90210”, he chronicles his rise to fame, from staying with his grandmother to where he is now. “Drugs You Should Try It” tells the story of him falling in love with a girl while still maintaining his regular narrative of drug use, but told in a different and more compelling fashion. Scott’s “Rodeo” album is narrated by Atlanta native and rap great T.I. and tells the story of a “young rebel against the system” (Scott) throughout. Other songs by Scott, lyrical or not, may talk about drug use and sex, but are told in different ways and bring different aspects to the songs that are always different from what listeners have heard before.
Against other rappers in today’s mainstream hip-hop music, Travis Scott is in his own niche due to his incredible versatility, something you don’t see in most rappers these days. He is a master of using influence as a weapon and combines different aspects of rap music that enhance his talent, whether it be the Houston trap music sound, boom-bap flows, or dark production. You can hear the impact of Kanye West, Kid Cudi, and other musicians that have influenced his craft as he grows, and can also see how his artistry has influenced them in their creative processes. Travis’ music is already insane, and if he adds more lyricism to his game, hones in on his ability to tell stories through his music, and backs up both of those weapons with killer production, he’ll evolve into not only a better music artist, but also a more versatile rapper.