American Hip Hop producer Travis Scott's latest endeavor has been somewhat of a puzzle in my mind. Initially I disliked it, then it grew on me and a couple of gems in the track listing revealed themselves but now after plenty of spins I feel mostly disappointed. Last years "Rodeo" was a new and interesting listen for me but some of the tracks really grew on me over time and so I found myself rather excited for this release. Unfortunately my understanding of this record is that several forces are at work, a variety of ideas which on occasions add up to something fantastic but mostly fall flat. One of its biggest flaws is song structure, a lot of tracks meander and stagnate in instrumental passageways that use a lot vocal distortion and sampling between layers of synth. Without a direction the atmosphere and vibes conjured often fade into obscurity.
Lets start with the negatives. Travis likes to backup and affirm rhymes with echoing, pitch shifted "Yea" and "Straight Up" shouts. It gets tiresome quickly, they sound identical and there frequency quickly had me irritated. Secondly the rapping is rather questionable, Travis stroking his cactus? This record is loaded with bizarre lines and meaningless dribble which only for a couple of moments makes sense. The album kicks of with a feature from Andre 3000 of Outkast who really kills it. At first It was heartbreaking to hear such a talented and inspiring rapper drop into this new auto tuned sound but with each listen and familiarity with the lyrics I released he was killing it, showing how lyricism done.
With a lack of lyrical substance and cohesive direction there are moments of brilliance that spark from the experiment. Guest artist Nav kills it on "Beibs In The Trap" and makes sense of these lackadaisical rhymes styles. His overly simplistic rhymes and effortless style paint the careless attitude for the unsympathetic interactions hes expressing, its a moment where the style matches the intention. Then Travis jumps on the track and plays out these slow synthetic vocal moments, unstructured and drawn out they stretch aimlessly through this and many other songs. Oddly enough this same nuisance sounds genius on "Through The Late Night", my latest addiction. The songs chorus plays over and over and over while Kid Cudi hums a complimenting melody. Auto tuned and distorted it synthetically blends into the track like an instrument and is simply infectious. There are many other moments where these vocalized instruments jump into the tracks but rarely does it work like this.
The album experiments greatly with vocals as instruments, something Kanye pioneered in Hip Hop. Most of the time it doesn't amount to much and the core of these instrumentals seem to be washed with dense reverbs, auto tune and wavy synthetic sounds where only a few moments display genuine chemistry. In its moments of tolerance there's a barrage of shallow materialism, unemphatic attitudes and questionable morality in the lyricism that creates a rather disappointing feeling through its playtime. I'll probably tune back in from time to time but I don't think this one will grow on me.
Favorite Tracks: Through The Late Night, Beibs In The Trap, Sweet Sweet