Music is a reflection of society, person, and time, however, sometimes an album comes out that transcends these three basic ideas. When an album surmounts these ideas they become legendary and almost mythic in thought. I felt this way in 2013 when Kanye West released Yeezus but it wasn’t until 2015 that I’d feel that way again.
Rodeo by Travis Scott is the album that overcame the three basic ideas and solidified itself as one of my favorite of all times, but why? With Rodeo being a trap record, it’s a little difficult to see it being impacting and emotional but yet Travis Scott beat these odds in only 16 songs. Rodeo is a timeless album with outstanding features and a deep narrative that makes it stand out more than any other trap album.
Travis Scott pours his heart and soul into Rodeo and creates a strong album out of it. Not many albums can easily make it into my top ten list but Rodeo certainly fits the bill. In order to understand Rodeo, we must discuss each song and what it attributes to the greater idea of the album.
Immediately, starting with “Pornography” the album kicks off into high gear with a voice-over by T.I. who describes the life of Jacques Webster and his journey to become Travis Scott and eventually leaving his mother’s porch. Travis Scott “is the leader of the stampede of lost souls” in this excerpt and instantly the tone of the album is set. Rodeo immediately embraces its trap and melodic sound with “Oh My Dis Side” which features frequent Travis Scott collaborator Quavo. This song comes straight out the gate with a combination of hype and dark tones that simply isn’t always done well on trap records. Travis Scott’s story about trying to leave his mother’s porch he resides at is deep, yet it’s shrouded by a positive and meaningful reflection of his past choices and his future outcomes because of these choices.
An emotional trap banger is essentially the start of this album and simply cannot be beaten. Travis Scott breaks musical norms within the first track and from there on out a masterpiece begins to form in Rodeo. Rodeo only gets better on the next song “3500” which happens to be one of the best songs of 2015. Travis Scott teams up with Future and 2 Chainz to deliver yet another hit on only the third song of the album. Every verse is meaningful and shows a new side of each rapper, a side that isn’t often explored. With “Wasted” and “90210” we further explore the psyche of La Flame and his journey to be where he’s at today, this idea is heavily reinforced on the sixth song “Pray 4 Love” which features The Weeknd.
Easily one of the greatest songs on Rodeo, “Pray 4 Love” explores the past of Travis Scott while boasting one of the greatest features by The Weeknd. “Pray 4 Love” is the epitome of feeling and emotion on Rodeo and from here on out Rodeo explores its hype side setting the feelings aside. “Nightcrawler” (which is my favorite song on Rodeo), is essentially nothing but hype with amazing features from Chief Keef and Swae Lee. The lifestyle and fame of La Flame is the center of “Nightcrawler” as Travis Scott parties his way through every verse and enjoys his lavish and well-earned lifestyle.
The next song on Rodeo features the one and only Kanye West. “Piss on Your Grave” is perhaps the angriest Travis Scott becomes on Rodeo and one can definitely tell this song was made with someone in mind. With Travis Scott leading the new generation of musicians on this song, their attack on corporate and executives is well justified as it’s time to let the kids run the game. Finally, the song that most know Travis Scott for, “Antidote”. The lead single from Rodeo is definitely a highlight of the album but sometimes still feels overplayed since it was seemingly an anthem for 2015.
Yet, Rodeo prevails and throws us right back into the moody and emotional phase with the final act of the album. “Impossible” is the fruition of the feelings that La Flame possesses. After “Impossible” comes one of the most unique pairings of all time; Travis Scott, Young Thug, and Justin Bieber. “Maria I’m Drunk” is a slow melodic song which boasts some of the most intriguing wordplays from Young Thug and a decent verse from Bieber. After the slow rhythm passes, Rodeo jumps into a more melodic and upbeat song with “Flying High” which is remarkably quite catchy after a while.
“I Can Tell” is the beginning of the end for Rodeo as Travis Scott begins to close out the album. As Travis Scott explores his past and realizes what brought him to where he is today. The album closes with “Apple Pie” which is the end of Travis Scott’s time on the porch. Travis Scott makes amends with his mother and informs her that he must go on alone to finally find what he was searching for all along; the Rodeo. With T.I. finishing out the album, we the listener are poised with the most important questions:
“Did he win? Will he survive the rodeo?”
And just like that Rodeo comes to a close and the journey of La Flame is complete. With Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight being a worthy successor to Rodeo and the eventual release of AstroWorld, Travis Scott has come a long way. From the porch, he’s gone on to debut at number one; selling 53,000 copies of Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight in the first week. I love Rodeo for what it stands for; Independence. The jumping off of the porch is the most essential part of Rodeo and is a nice parallel to life and having to eventually leave the past in the past and chase the future. Rodeo is the ultimate reflection of society, person, and time. Travis Scott made a masterpiece with Rodeo, and I for one cannot wait to see what we will experience in AstroWorld.