By Braxton Randolph
Travis Scott’s Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight is very much so one of the best hip hop albums of 2016. The follow up to last year’s Rodeo was debuted September 2nd on Travis’ radio show .Wav on Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio. The album features some significant names in hip hop such as Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Swizz Beatz and The Weeknd. It also features some newcomers in the game like Blac Youngsta, NAV, 21 Savage and K Forest.
While Travis is not exactly known for being “lyrical,” his melodic wordplay is what makes every song on this album a “banger,” as the kids say. While the trend of melody in hip hop is not a new concept, it is one that has very much taken over, with younger artists such as Lil Uzi Vert and Rae Sremmurd dominating the genre. Each song on the album showcases Travis’ ability to use auto tune to fulfill these melodic cadences and stretch his voice to convey different emotions.“Way Back” is a sublime example of this as Kid Cudi provides graceful hums and Travis shouts out Houston Rockets’ James Harden in the song’s up-tempo beginning. The song’s production then pulls a 180 about halfway in to take on a whole new mood, which is classic Travis for any avid listener of his.
As we found out on Travis’ last album, his ability to pick and choose features from other artists and utilize them perfectly in his world are second to none. Travis has previously explained in interviews that he has a producer-first mentality, and those skills are exactly what make his features sound organic rather than just two rappers jumping on a song together (looking at you Drake and Future’s RE: WATTBA). This skill is presented many times throughout the album, but it is especially highlighted with “Outside.” The song features Atlanta’s 21 Savage, an artist who you wouldn’t likely associate with Travis $cott’s sound or aesthetic. Despite the differences, Travis is able to flawlessly use 21’s sound to compliment his own with this house-party favorite.
Even though Travis is known as turn up king and the majority of the album takes on that mood, there is a trio of sedated songs on the album that should not be slept on. After 5 straight songs of quality moshing material, “SDP Interlude” is the well-deserved first break we get in the madness of this album. Along with the help of Cassie’s angelic background vocals, Travis harmonizes and sings about the different ways to get lit. First Take, an ode to a woman Travis finds himself in love with featuring Bryson Tiller, is definitely the most popular of the trio. This song is ideal towards the end of the night, when certain substances may or may not be wearing off and you want to slow things down, but not put people to sleep. However, my personal favorite of the three is “Guidance.” The exotic drum cadence, paired with Travis’ ad-libs and wordplay, makes for a more Dancehall vibe that we haven’t heard before from him. K Forest also adds a hook in the beginning that I, and many alike, could only wish to be a full verse. Along with his production abilities, the ability to teeter in both the sound of rap and R&B in the most 808s and Heartbreak way is what makes Travis’ sound work. I would recommend Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.