30 Sep ALBUM REVIEW: Travis Scott – Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight
by Benny P
Travis Scott is an artist I have a hard time describing. His last few releases Owl Pharaoh, Days Before Rodeo and his debut album Rodeo were all over the place, and although I liked them mostly, they did lack a little structure. Almost sounding like compilations of music rather than a complete project, Scott always seemed to have a hard time creating a unified mood with his music. Yes, these albums contained some absolutely amazing hip hop and are quintessential on a party/pre-game playlist, but they still felt like they were missing something.
On his sophomore studio album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, Scott seems to have broken this curse. The project is a symphony of dark synths and booming drums, and is the young artist’s most cohesive effort to date. From a pure music standpoint, Scott excels as an executive producer. Featuring Wondagurl, Cashmere Cat, Vinylz, Cardo, Mike Dean, Boi-1da, TM88, Frank Dukes and a slew of others, Birds almost reminds me of the credits you’d see in the liner notes of a recent Kanye West project. Scott being one of West’s recent proteges only makes this connection even stronger, and I applaud the Houston artist’s vision behind the boards. Despite the fact that I do wish Scott solo-produced more tracks (it seems like the days of him being the single producer of a track are behind us), I still am amazed by this album’s beats upon every listen. They’re hard, diverse and are guaranteed to get the floor moving.
Although production is quite important, a hip hop album is little to nothing without solid verses. This is where my only major gripe with Birds lies. Whenever Travis is on the mic, I find myself more captivated by his vocal performances (i.e. flow, cadence, added affects) more so than the bars themselves. On top of this fact, whenever another rapper was featured on a song, they usually stole the show from Travis. 3 Stacks on ‘The Ends’, Kendrick on ‘Goosebumps’, Thugga on ‘Pick up the Phone’, Cudi on ‘Through the Late Night’ and even Nav on ‘Beibs in the Trap’ are all good examples of this. But, even though Travis did suffer a bit from Renegade Syndrome on Birds, there were still some pretty dope verses from him. I really dug his verses on the first two tracks, as well on ‘Sweet Sweet,’ ‘Wonderful,’ and ‘Lose.’ And, if we’re all being honest, does anyone actually listen to Travis Scott to have their mind blown by wordplay and metaphors? I would assume not. The dude is a monster on hooks and his singing has gotten exponentially better. Even though I wasn’t too impressed with his pen game, he continuously found a way to keep my mind and ears intrigued – which earns him a pass in my book. Scott truly is a master of ceremony.
Birds in the Trap Sings McKnight showcases both Travis Scott’s strengths and weaknesses as an artist quite vividly. For strengths, he is an incredible curator of different sounds and producers, puts on energetic performances behind the mic, can pump out dynamite hook after hook and frequently collabs with the industry’s best and brightest. For weaknesses, his verses can be a pretty lackluster in the bars department and his solo tracks often don’t shine as much as his collab tracks do. Regardless, this was an incredibly fun album front to back and is my favorite Travis Scott project so far. It sounds great at the gym and at parties, and showcases lots of growth from Travis as a hip hop artist. Scott focused more on what makes him sound better as an artist and trimmed some of the fat that slowed him down on past projects. After all the hype and pushbacks, BITTSM was definitely worth the wait.