By Laurent Sicard – 1851 Staff
On September 2, rapper Travis Scott (formerly known as Travi$ Scott) returned with his follow up to last year’s well received “Rodeo” album. “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” was released as an Apple Music exclusive, but can now be found on Spotify and iTunes. On his latest project, Scott has cultivated some of his best trap music to date, with guest appearances from the likes of mentors Kid Cudi, Kend-rick Lamar, Andre 3000, Bryson Tiller and even Justin Bieber.
This past summer, it’s been hard to escape the infectious ‘catchiness’ of “Pick Up the Phone” and it will be especially hard for fans to stop listening to this album once immersed in its hour of good vibes.
The album commences with “The Ends,” featuring Atlanta legend Andre 3000. Scott starts the party by crooning “let’s make it a badass time.” Scott, also known as La Flame, tries to cement his rapping ability on the first verse. Andre 3000 makes a rare appearance on the second verse, in which he is highly introspective about growing up in Atlanta. If “The Ends” is an indication of anything, it’s that Scott has curated enough space for others to shine, without compromising his own radiance.
Along with the featured artists, this album thrives off of its stellar production. Each song transitions into the next effortlessly. This album is best enjoyed in the car, or through speakers at maximum volume, due to its banging 808 drums and synths.
Still, one can’t listen to Travis Scott without discussing the usage of auto-tune. On past records such as “Oh My Dis Side,” Scott’s vocal effects are overbearing. On this project, however, Scott avoids sounding like a robot.
La Flame isn’t the most lyrical rap-per in the game and he realizes that. It’s pleasant to hear him occasionally pair his vocal effects with solid lyrical content. An example includes the line, “ain’t making friends, we just making hobbies” on “The Ends,” or when he invokes and features Kid Cudi’s “Day and Night” on “Through the Late Night.”
Despite its praiseworthy moments, this album is not without drawbacks. There isn’t any real social or political depth on Scott’s latest venture. On “Rodeo,” Scott addressed police brutality and media controversy. For example on “Pray for Love,” assisted by the Weeknd, Scott calls out CNN exclaiming “they don’t want to see us win.”
On his new project, Scott deserts this approach for songs like “Lose,” in which he describes his desire to keep his materialistic possessions. Scott also doesn’t take many risks on the album. For the most part, he remains in his element, and while this works, it doesn’t signify growth. “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” could easily be titled “Rodeo 2.0.” Scott’s only gamble appears on the song “Guidance,” which features a dancehall infused trap rhythm, and is nothing short of compelling.
Overall, Scott’s sophomore effort is a solid body of work. The album certainly bumps in cars and speakers, and Scott has enlisted the help of his friends for several terrific collaborations. However, the album proves that Scott still has room to grow as an artist. 8/10