25. Piss on Your Grave ft. Kanye West
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On paper this shit might be the best song on Rodeo. Let’s review the facts: big bro on the feature, Mike Dean, Charlie Heat, and Noah Goldstein co-producing, and Nabil Elderkin behind the lens for the visuals. Oh, and then there was also that creepy-ass Mos Def cameo where he was mobbing up in a tree. It was even rumored that Paul McCartney was in the studio during the recording process.
On the other hand, I can’t ignore a few pervading irks with this track:
Once again we’ve fallen victim to a half-assed verse from Ye (cc: “Jukebox Jams”).
This honestly sounds a lot like some B-Side Yeezus (cc: valiant attempts at cross-genre exploration)
The more I listen to this track, the more I’m led to believe Ye has a pee fetish (cc: PornHub)
And yeah, Trav’s verse does kinda sound like a regurgitated Big Sean 16 over a rock track with a couple of lean references, but Scotty’s energy fits that of the song much more than Ye. As a whole, the track showcases the type of raw energy that Travis has now trademarked, two projects in.
24. Uptown ft. A$AP Ferg
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At first listen, “Uptown” is the animalistic alpha of Trav’s Owl Pharaoh debut. The Trap Lord makes an appearance, and while Ferg’s verse is rather forgettable aside from some clever Greek life word play (“My fraternity is the burna heat, I’m a Kappa n*gga with the AK-ay”), the collaboration between the two seems organic. Fergie’s bars stand valiant, but it’s the Wondagurl beat and Travis’ confidence that command the most attention.
According to Wondagurl, she made the beat with original plans of it being a “‘Blocka 2.0’ sort of thing,” but the GOOD Music prez passed and Trav was left with a beast. A hulking, chopped up Bollywood sample dominates the track along with an 808 and a steady rain of hi hats. Trav sounds demonic at the birth of verse two when he spits “‘Damn you gorgeous,’ tell me sumn i don’t know, dice on the corner with the lights low, got the base in my sock, fuck the 5-0.” At the time, this was a young lonely stoner from suburban Houston portraying himself as this candy paint dripping slum lord. Let this be witness as one of the first tracks where Travis truly morphs into La Flame, a character that to this day continues its legend and twisted development.
All in all, this shit slaps. It sounds like you’re speeding down the highway with Godzilla and the pigs on your ass, but you truthfully you don’t give af because you got a bad chick in the passenger and you just signed your government on contracts with G.O.O.D. and Grand Hustle. One hand on the wheel, one hand on your d*ck.
23. Quintana Pt. 2 ft. T.I.
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“Quintana Pt. 2” truly is the sonic graduation of the original version that sports Wale Folarin. It is interesting, though, to consider the latter version doesn’t say the word Quintana even once. The track does, however, muse of a similar (and maybe even the same) dope-hogging girlfriend, along with a few (actually five) bad bitches. With production coming from a host of names that include Southside, and Travis’ talented, fellow-Texan Mike Dean, the Astroworld artist navigates five minutes of autotune-infused flexing.
Before Tip takes the wheel and tells a tale of pushing bricks through Mexico, it’s Trav’s finessin’ that is difficult to get out of your head. This track, along with a few others that pre-date it, is also one of the first times where the soundscape of Travis’ tracks become dual-sided. Tip’s verse is thrust forward by a seamless switch up, and the insouciant nature of the song’s first half comes down hard with Travis riffing on the outro about being manipulated purely for his dope connect. While we see a nonchalant rockstar in the song’s opening half, we’re shown a broken young man in the song’s closing scene. So while “Quintana Pt. 2” should certainly be read as another chapter in the book of La Flame, it’s also one of the peeks where we witness Jacques Webster, if even for a sliver in time.
22. Hell of a Night
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We must protect DJ Dahi at all costs.
What starts with a tambourine and a feel good loop of Fleet Foxes’ “Oliver James” meets Scott in a much warmer light than that of “Quintana Pt. 2,” with the rapper once again recalling a narcotics-induced female encounter. There’s just something beautiful about hearing Ye offspring over a chipmunk loop, even if the track mentions “rubbers all over the bathroom” and endorses the casual abuse of hard drugs.
Another dual-sider, the song’s opening round begins with Travis recounting his evening through flashes of intoxication. What starts with a first kiss in the living room gradually transitions to Scott and the girl “doing drugs in the bedroom,” and a piano around the 75 second mark prompts a stark change of heart. “I left my girl in the south, but this gold in my mouth,” Trav admits, but he quickly puts those thoughts to bed, blasting through the song’s last verse through a steady stream of bass and these resounding background vocals that just sort of moan and hang in the pocket.
It’s through these sudden changes of pace that Travis keeps us at the ready. One moment he’s sedated and loose, and the next he’s revived through this sort of sonic bloodlust. If anything, the first half of the song could be a minute longer, and it’d still hold my millennial brain’s tiny attention span. After tinkering with switch ups like this on “Hell of a Night,” Travis and Dahi thankfully revisited those tactics again on Rodeo.
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In July, Travis Scott sat for a live, “In Camera” interview with SHOWstudio. The discussion included questions from fans and the general public, and other queries came from close friends and collaborators. At one point during the talk, the interviewer notes that at least one track on each Scott project is geared towards a particular female. Notice the trend?
Travis shifted in his chair and admitted to have "written albums about girls that have fucked my whole head up." Like his predecessor, Mr. West, it’s no hot take asserting that Scott has made some of his best music through the heartbreak of failed partnership, but he’s also inspired by much more than the opposite sex.
Albeit, there’s no exact answer as to who Scott laments to on “Impossible.”
One of multiple debut album cuts equipped with Allen Ritter DNA, “Impossible” really does feel like a 6 God track, but that’s a compliment more than anything. It’s spacey, new-Houston screw with this droopy melody drowning in a double cup. And as down and out as Travis sounds, he still keeps an edge of confidence. Even if he knew “it was never love,” the momentary bliss and comfort of being with this girl on the Westside is irreplaceable.
20. Maria I'm Drunk/Drunk
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We're not crediting Travis Scott for starting “mumble rap,” but we will credit the un-Bieber’d/leaked version of “Drunk” as the first Travis Scott song to sport a Travis Scott “mumble” verse. While the Biebs' 16 may be supbar in comparison to Travis "mumbling," it was a nice “Thank you and you’re welcome” verse to match Travis’ contributions on Purpose.
It’s actually kind of sad to look back at Jeffrey’s verse considering what’s come of he and Jerrika, but considering how he feels, he should be fine. There’s a few things that make Thugga the showstopper on this track. One, his “Drunk In Love” reference is a nod to the most powerful power couple in the entertainment business. Two, the southern autotune drawl when he says “Never ever do I wanna leave my little lady” is amazing. And three, imagine Thug kneeling bedside, praying to God for an iced out watch… How else would Slime arrive on time?
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This track is a lyrical tug of war for Travis, oscillating between this trying relationship, and his career as an artist. With fellowship and superstardom ultimately winning out, and considering the heights Travis’ career has flown to since, it’s obvious that he made the right decision.
Co-penned with Delaware songwriter Starrah, it’s the lyrical and sonic nuance on “Lose” that wins us over. The song offers a parallel peek into the mindset of an impending icon, and a testament to his ability to make turn-up tracks with deeper meaning. Reckless abandon still runs rampant with Trav promising to “fall through and break some” with his crew, but at least he’s cognizant of “living backwards,” a feeling that’s doubled up at track’s end with the beat looping in reverse.
So in summation, if you ever feel like he or she is dragging you down with the bullshit, and you’d much rather focus on you and the homies gloing up, this is the track. Straight up.
18. Days Before Rodeo - The Prayer
This is the quintessential album intro. Actually, it was a mixtape intro, but what’s the difference anymore? This shit could be subbed in to score the opening scene of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and people wouldn’t fucking blink. The piano strokes falling through this track give it the feel that you’re creeping through the darkest crevices of your mind at midnight, and that’s exactly where Trav transports us.
As the intro to Days Before Rodeo, “The Prayer” brought us up to speed with Travis’ accomplishments to that point in his career, flexing production credits on Magna Carta Holy Grail (with “Crown”), The Gifted (with “Rotation”), and Yeezus (with basically everything). Nevertheless, Travis assures us that it ain’t all rose gold and rollies, and his impatience is palpable despite mounting accomplishments.
Literally a prayer for fulfillment, that his “wild goose chasing” won’t be wasted, the track kicks off Trav’s second project with the air that he was bred for this shit. With Wondagurl’s brooding bass and a wild assortment of drum patterns, La Flame rolls his way through both verses, the second sporting some clever Miami Heat wordplay about Trav and a chick romping through rounds in the bathroom stall.
17. Butterfly Effect
One of three surprise loosies coming from Cactus Jack this past spring, “Butterfly Effect” caused quite the ripple online and IRL.
Composed by Migos’ and Drake’s trap mastermind, Murda Beatz, “Butterfly Effect” breaks out of the cocoon when it’s performed live.
With Murda manning the beat, Trav navigates his soundscape with a plethora of “Skrt skrt” and “It’s lit!” adlibs, but he also steps his flow up. The hook itself is mesmerizing, even if I wouldn’t necessarily consider candy canes sweet, and you eventually believe the vow of not turning back when he says “Roll up help me calm down when I move at high speeds.” This track is the ultimate flex (regardless of it’s supposed Kylie nod), and if all this ranting isn’t enough, just peep the BRTHR directed video. It’s hits like this that light the way to the arena anthems of Trav’s next LP.
16. Apple Pie
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Technically speaking, “Apple Pie” is the outro of Rodeo.
If you know anything of La Flame’s journey, you know music was always in his plans, but not necessarily in the plans of parents. Ever present youthful angst appears across so much of Scott’s catalogue, brought on partly by the resistance he received from mom and dad growing up. He’d use the money they sent to him at college for studio time, or plane tickets to LA, not for food, books and the occasional eighth from the kid selling out of his dorm room. Odd as it may sound, Travis’ dad didn’t support his son’s musical pursuits, despite being a musician himself. Travis told Nardwuar “there’d be times where my dad would knock down my door because we’d be making music too loud,” and on tracks like Owl Pharaoh’s “MIA” Scott addresses the disapproval of his parents, saying “nothin’ for fam, cause niggas be hoes.”
“Apple Pie” views these problems in the rearview, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Sure, it helps if you sell platinum albums and buy your family a mansion for Christmas, but that’s not the point. Travis just needed time to manifest his vision. He’s still doing that. La Flame knew his recipe for success all along, even if it wasn’t the typical American dream. That’s what this track is all about. Produced by, you guessed it, Mike Dean, it’s the piano that grabs your attention first. We didn’t have the pleasure of hearing Travis over too much upbeat piano until Rodeo, and it brings a sense of optimism to his story. The second verse of this track could very well be top five on the album, and that’s not just because of the screaming “Shit I got at least twenty five lighters on my dresser!”
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If “Butterfly Effect,” “Green & Purple,” and “A Man” were the loosies released before Astroworld, consider “A-Team” and “Wonderful” as the loosies released before Birds. The latter batch hatched on New Year's Eve of 2016.
“A-Team” was designed with the clique in mind. Travis skips specifics and instead compares his squad to arguably the deadliest gang of dudes in fictional warfare history. A simple, addictive horn loop is matched by an equally simple and addictive flow, and as he typically does, Trav utilizes autotune as yet another instrument in his arsenal. Alphabet wordplay comes standard, but so do lines with a little more nuance. I didn’t fully appreciate “I’m a dog, you know that, can’t be from New Jersey how you throw back,” until I caught the double entendre. He’s not just talking about a chick from our country’s wasteland that can’t dance, people. Oh, and check the Hip-Hop rule book --- there’s gotta be something in there about immediately crowning songs with Fifa references.
Naturally, this is the kind of track you want to drunkenly yell along to in the club. Or at a house party. Or in the car with your friends. Anywhere really.
14. Lights (Love Sick)
“Lights (Love Sick)” sounds like a thirty year old Kanye West beat, but in actuality it was made by a nineteen year named Jacques Webster from Missouri City, Texas. It’s this spastic, electronic number that becomes so sonically stimulating over the course of three minutes that the song’s music video only puts it over the top.
The video sets out to establish Travis as a raucous albeit cultured artist, and it does so successfully. This is technically the content that spawned La Flame, as Tip phoned in for Travis’ services not long after seeing this beautiful mosh of art. And mosh is the correct word. We’re greeted by Trav’s early morning wake and bake, and move on to varying shots of a beautiful cathedral, Travis rapping in front of Keith Haring projections, what I’ll describe as some trailer park Mad Max type shit, and subliminal flashes of the word love in varying fonts and languages. To be honest, it’s a lot. But Travis and co-director Tony Loney pulled it off, and it was then parlayed it into a record deal not long after couch surfing with his friend out in LA.
13. Skyfall ft. Young Thug
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The marriage of Travis Scott and Young Thug is an incredible feat for hip-hop. Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Toss in Metro, and you literally have a trap dream team.
Travis said once of their partnership in music: “Before me and him did music, we hung out. For like a month. Before we did songs I went to a show with him in South Carolina on a tour bus; we did one random show. He’s one of the very few artists in music that is a real person. A lot of these niggas is characters. I think he’s a genius.”
If Days Before Rodeo is Travis’ dark moment, “Skyfall” is when the album reaches midnight. In a clip of Travis and Metro cooking up the beat, Trav mentions that he’s looking for an “evil melody” to create around, something with an “ill, drive type feeling.” That’s exactly what Metro cooked up.
There’s a resounding attachment of autotune latching onto every last syllable, and the amount of reverb put on Travis’ vocals give him this demented delivery that suit the content of this song to a tee. The intro of “Yeahhhhhh, that’s that loooouuud shit, yeahhhhhhh!” is almost terrifying, even moreso when his eyes nearly bulge out of his head when he performs this live on stage.
What’s also interesting about this track is the internal struggle we witness. For as much as Travis is vowing to his dealer to lay off the candy, it’s almost more an affirmation or a plea to himself. Hearing that low autotune drone in the background while Travis howls “I DON’T WANNA BUYYYYYYY NO MO,” is pretty haunting, and I’m pretty sure that’s because I can’t figure out whether it’s because he’s gonna lay off it, or he’s just going to level up to stronger shit. This is Travis’ anthem of narcotic tolerance --- a lot of rappers have anthems of narcotic tolerance in their repertoire nowadays.
12. Way Back
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This is probably the only track in the history of hip-hop that has and will successfully name drop James Harden, OJ Simpson, Coldplay, and Michael Phelps all on the same song, and Mike Dean absolutely murders that guitar solo at the end.
Pace is the name of the game on “way back,” and Travis switches lanes both swiftly and seamlessly. In the first half he’s at mach speed, swag rapping through ad-libs and pop culture references, and in the song’s closing scene he slows it to a creep, reflecting on accomplishments (“So visit me, I just built a castle deep, in them trees”), and appreciating the rewards of success (“That’s how I get them Backwoods free”).
11. Goosebumps ft. Kendrick Lamar
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“Goosebumps” is, according to Travis’ manager David Stromberg, “Travis’ crossover song.” That’s partly due to the fact that he performed it on a show that’s watched by a bunch of middle aged white ladies, but also partly due to the song’s Kendrick Lamar feature. Stromberg added in that same interview with Variety Magazine that “Kendrick brought a totally different energy.”
This is a song that Travis claimed once in concert to have written at one of the darkest moments of his entire life. For as much as it is a song about the sensational yet damning feeling brought about by a failed female encounter, Travis bounced back like a fucking champ.
Considering this is a Kendrick feature, Travis’ mention of Los Angeles’ Doheny Room is valid in the first verse, and the track is honestly a preview of “Lose” if you consider the lines “Aw naw, I can’t fuck with y’all, when I’m with my squad I cannot do no wrong.” Despite the bullshit Trav is fielding with these female relations, he’s relying on what has gotten him this far.
Oh, and since we’re considering the Kendrick feature, let’s really consider the Kendrick feature. It’s hilarious, picturing Ku Fu Kenny gripping your girl, burning a building down, only to then pay to rebuild the building just so he can engage in sexual relations with your girl in said newly refurbished structure. It’s also hilarious, and pretty genius, to rap about sex, and then make a 40 Year Old Virgin reference in the bars that follow.
10. Upper Echelon ft. T.I. & 2 Chainz
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When Travis brought what he had of Owl Pharaoh to Kanye West, fans were under the assumption that the album would be shared soon. Then, as La Flame fans have painfully become accustomed to, the project got delayed. Ye took the project to the G.O.O.D. garage for a face lift, and one of those adjustments came in the form of “Upper Echelon.” This song is like Ye feeding little Jacques Webster nothing but sugar for breakfast, taking him to a sonic playground, and just letting the little fucker run rampant. Trav took the skeleton of a Kanye beat, threw his flavor of drums on it, and went freak mode. That explains the “Watch me do the Randy, TOUCHDOWN!” line.
This track is all but a preamble to “3500.” Most likely to the chagrin of B-List Atlanta artists, Travis naturally attracted the collaborative efforts of ATL’s finest trap. His Grand Hustle plug certainly didn’t hurt, but the features on this track are also a testament to the potential and ever present talented La Flame presented at that stage in his career.
To whom much is given, much is tested, and Travis refuses to play second fiddle to either of the Atlanta OG’s on this track. Tip certainly holds his flow much longer, and Tity Boi mentions this place called “Versace heaven,” but Trav’s cadence, and the repeated “Straight up!” and “That dope!” ad libs take center stage. This is the track where Travis fully asserted himself as La Flame.
9. Through The Late Night ft. KiD CuDi
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How much does Travis Scott love KiD CuDi? Travis Scott told Nadeska Alexis he cried in the backseat of CuDi’s car the first time he met the Rager. “I felt like my life was like, complete,” Travis said.
Travis also told Nadeska that Rodeo wasn’t coming out until it included a feature from his idol and parallel flame, KiD CuDi. Although there may have been an initial upset that the KiD CuDi vocals never came in to ride the Rodeo, all was forgiven when the birds flew the coop. Considering there’s no listed features on BITTSM, I would have personally counted those synthesized hums on “way back” as a KiD CuDi feature if they were in fact the only Cudder vocals to appear. They are not, in fact, the only Cudder vocals to appear.
First impressions? CuDi’s synthesized hum is the best instrument on the song, and it’s amazing to finally see Trav take the support role next to his idol. Travis has filled the role quite nicely for the G.O.O.D. fam (not to mention the rest of hip-hop) in CuDi’s self-imposed exile. As a fan of both of their catalogs, it’s just a blessing to finally have a champion level track (a couple, actually) between the two of them.
8. Drugs You Should Try It
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“Drugs You Should Try It” wasn’t pushed as a single, it wasn’t accompanied by a video, and the overall emotions of the song, while strikingly inundated and intoxicated on all the best levels, aren’t as brash on Days as, say, “Don’t Play” or Travis’ “Basement Freestyle.”
Instead, the track comes after Trav’s “She use me to get high,” outro on “Quintana Pt. 2,” and we shift into a much more introverted look inside the artist’s mental. Down on himself and searching for a fix, Travis calls for the company of a familiar face, one that seems just as soothing as she is destructive. His opening bar “I try it if it feels right, this feels nice,” could just as much be about a girl as it is about whatever twisted concoction of drugs he’s gotten into. He’s telling a vivid tale of withdrawal, a tale that is amplified tenfold by its soundscape.
La Flame finds a worthy canvas to bleed across, with sounds coming from Charlie Handsome, and Atlanta production duo, FKi. Starting first with a moody electric guitar and a CuDi-inspired “Oooooo,” coming full force in the background, Trav’s voice is distorted to the point that it sounds like he’s talking into one of those Fisher Price “my first” microphones. Stove top hi-hats and a pulsating 808 kick lead the way into his first verse, and there’s also this revolving noise that sounds quite honestly like a bullfrog ribbit the more you listen to it.
This is essentially a drug-induced 808s and Heartbreak track with some trap thrown in, and the song reaches its forlorn peak of love and lust when Travis reaches the outro. He calls out across the hills for his vacant lover with one last melody, reaching a fit of melancholy and loneliness he’s seldom made public before. The outro is some of Travis’ best songwriting, and at that point, people weren’t necessarily used to hearing Travis sing songs about lost love. It should be noted that it’s tracks like this that paved the way for a sound he’s continued to pursue and perfect since then.
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Another Wondagurl x Travis hit with co-production from Eestbound, Rodeo’s second single showcases this incredible guitar riff sampled from “All I Need” by Lee Fields and The Expressions. According to an interview with Genius, Eestbound and Wondagurl were riding through Toronto one night, and they heard Fields’ track on the radio. Serendipity. Reaching an almost telepathic agreement that the song should be sampled, the two went to work. Wondagurl initially attempted to use a clip of the track’s horn section, but Eestbound sided with the guitar riff at the very beginning of the Fields song. It’s pitched up and contains a load of reverb, according the Eestbound, but it is Fields’ original sound that’s used, despite the Toronto-based producer saying he hoped to replay the riff on his own guitar.
With an added element of dismantling bass and a steady pour of trappy hi hats, La Flame’s stage was set. After touring his gloomy encasement of youthful angst on Days Before Rodeo, Trav’s debut carried with it a slackened tone towards existence, one that turned a frequent blind eye towards responsible living, “Antidote” reaching that epitome. Gone were the snarling vocals, and in their place came this melodic trail of zealous autotune.
All in all, Travis has this ability in him to write four or five fire verses every album that vacate a somewhat regimented flow, and the build up towards this one was enormous. He rolls through each line on pace with the hi hats, throwing the listener directly into the drift of his audubon lifestyle, but all the while he stays cognizant of his role in Houston hip-hop history. It’s lit.
6. 3500 ft. Future & 2 Chainz
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This is the kind of song that you accidentally blow your speakers listening to. The hook sounds like Trav had a megaphone in the booth. Maybe that’s why you can’t tell whether he’s saying “$3,500 for the coat,” or “$3,500 for the coke.” Either way works, according to him.
With Travis is manning the hook as well as the first verse, everybody on the track gets a time to shine. For as often as Travis vaguely mentions his squad, it’s nice to hear Chase B get a shoutout.
This is peak Russell-Wilson-is-now-kinda-sorta-fathering-my-child-and-I-don’t-know-how-to-handle-it Future, AKA the one whose raps rely quite heavily on asserting his narcotic tolerance. Vince Staples took the words out of my mouth in a since deleted Instagram story, saying “Somebody go tell Post Malone to listen to Future’s verse on “3500” if he can’t cry to that I don’t know what to tell him.” As always, Vince is a prophet.
As far as 2 Chainz’ verse is concerned, he raps about living the lavish life through the usage of all kinds of gaudy imagery. He brags about having “leather shit in [his] front yard” and drinking his mother’s breast milk out of a double cup. That’s 2 Chainz at his absolute finest, ladies and gentleman. But my favorite line of Mr. Chainz’ verse is obviously his Killa Cam pink Range Rover reference, which could quite possibly steal the show of any rap song if we’re being honest. Before this song, we had no idea Tity was such a Cam Stan, but it explains A LOT.
5. Don't Play ft. Big Sean
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Point blank, Travis Scott’s verse on “Don’t Play” is the best Travis Scott verse that’s available to the public. This verse came at a time when Big Sean was in his peak. Travis wasn’t just going to lay down, especially on the heels of his first G.O.O.D. Music placement with “Sin City.” At the time Scott dropped this 16, Big Sean was the cream of the crop at G.O.O.D. seated beside Ye and King Push. Besides the fact that Sean Don patented the Supa Dupa flow (do your research), he also slayed the “Mercy” and “Clique” beats within a matter of months. Sean also, at the time, had not yet received the wrath of Kung Fu Kenny. But honestly, who cares? Sean got the girl, he’s up for a Grammy, and dude is on a victory lap with Metro right now.
Before we even get to Travis’ verse, we hear a sample of the song “M.O.N.E.Y.” by Manchester collective, The 1975. As the story goes, Travis and the UK group shared some studio time at one point, Travis becoming a fan of the sampled song, the sounds of which landed on their debut album. And for the record, of all the coke references in Travis Scott songs (“beibs in the trap” had like nineteen white people nicknames for cocaine) this is among his top-tier coke references, if that even counts as a category. The lyrics go as follows: “Drink slow to feed the nose, you know he likes to get blown / Has he got enough money to spend? / Leave? No! He’s to and fro, he doesn’t like it when the girls go / Has he got enough money to spend?”
Even just the thought of Travis blasting off sets the pace of this verse, and he spirals through a barrage of parallel structure and internal rhyme that’s dizzying at points. It’s just as disorienting as his mix, and as always, he stays Houston af:
She even got the scripts for the cough
In the H, gotta hit Johnny for the frost
Ain’t it been a minute
Since they seen a weird nigga
From the corner
Put it on for the South?
Let's take the time to point out that the previous bars contained zero end rhyme whatsoever, yet due to Travis' cadence, and the distortion thrown onto his slur, those lines blurred into a thick slab of Houston realism.
4. Oh My Dis Side ft. Quavo
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“Oh My Dis Side” is a champion track, and it, along with Travis’ first Migos collab “Sloppy Toppy,” paved the way for a fruitful partnership that has since blossomed, Travis notching not one, but two platinum albums in the past year, and Migos completely taking over 2017 with a Grammy nominated album, and now also a Quality Control album that’s beginning to make its rounds.
Just like “Drugs,” the sound that really gives this track life is that of a guitar. But this time, the strum comes with a much more primal approach. “Oh My Dis Side” sets the tone for Rodeo after Trav and Tip’s brief introduction on “Pornography,” and it launches the listener directly into Travis’ ascent, detailing his journey from his days as Baby Jack, and through his evolution into La Flame. For critics that comment that Travis doesn’t delve deeply enough into his own personal doings, this track does so accordingly. Who knew you could make bumming it on a friend’s couch after your mom stops treating you like a charity case (multiple couches, actually), sound so ratchet? Maybe that’s the approach you’ve got to take if you want to rise through the ranks and burst out of your metaphoric trap. It worked for Travis at least.
Considering how taboo autotune is viewed by the old heads, it’s dope seeing two of the game’s autotune GOATs trade off synthesized bars, especially when their commenting about the come up. The young MCs mesh easily, and it’s also possibly the first time that anyone other than Travis Scott has yelled “LA FLAME!” on a Travis Scott track. That’s history, people.
If you look at “Oh My” and “Dis Side” as sole entities, they are both solid tracks in their own respective lighting. But when you mash Travis’ carnal desire to reach superstardom together with a nostalgic look back at his home town, you create what we refer to as a classic.
This is a chapter that will forever be dog-eared in the book of La Flame.
3. Pick Up the Phone ft. Young Thug & Quavo
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The best songs carry with them these ongoing, text-to-self emotional attachments. “Pick Up The Phone” is the perfect break-up-to-turn-up song, if you should ever need one.
I don’t know what it is, but I just love picturing McCauley Quavo Culkin slumped inside his mansion with a double cup and a watch on his wrist the size of an ice cream sandwich, while some racially ambiguous woman attempts to break into his boobytrapped fortress. That, and the man promotes bi-racial dating to the extent that he makes up an entirely new word: discriminize. If Quavo doesn’t discriminize, why should anyone? Maybe that’s why so many people petitioned for him to sing the national anthem.
“Pick Up The Phone” is an iconic checkpoint for all three artists involved, though. Travis, Thug, and Quavo all went into full-on glo-up mode that summer, and it can be argued that the run all three of them made into their next projects was stimulated first by this particular collaboration.
Thug provides his usual hyperactive verse full of wordplay and vocal contortion, and the three harmonize together in a celebratory winner’s circle. The trio’s synthesized delivery (Quavo sounds like he’s damn near scuba diving) once again acts as an audible counterpoint to an upbeat, steel-drum-esque synth, and after a while the melody of the song just engrains itself into your eardrums.
Some of that can be attributed to songwriter and behind the scenes superstar, Starrah. She’s also the same young lady that penned RiRi’s “Needed Me,” Drizzy’s “Fake Love” and the aforementioned Travis track, “Lose.” And whether she contributed on the hook, Trav’s verse, or the hook and Trav’s verse is irrelevant, a frequent sticking point for some fans that the Delaware product has acknowledged as of late.
In the end, their collaboration has rendered an incredible song.
2. 90210 ft. Kacy Hill
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images
The calculated production value of “90210” is a more than suitable thesis for the phrase “Good things come to those who wait,” both for Travis and fans alike, and that’s not even sonically speaking. Long ago in my introduction to this list, I mentioned a documentary scene of Travis watching an early screening of his video for this song, commenting that he didn’t have enough money, and that he needed the trust of investors to truly bring his dreams to reality, both on screen, and in real life. If that’s not a private, lite version of Kanye begging Tim Cook for a stake in Donda, then I don’t know what is.
The video’s main character (Travis’ lifelike action figure) wasn’t received by customers until seven months after the release of Rodeo (trust me, I would know), and the stop-motion, Hype Williams directed video for “90210” didn’t drop until November of 2016, with the song already proving a household name, and the entire Birds album making heavy headway in its own right. If you take into consideration how long it takes to produce a well done stop motion animation (just ask Tyler, The Creator), we can appreciate the amazing product La Flame eventually bestowed upon us.
The song contains a well-timed and well-placed introduction to G.O.O.D. Music talent Kacy Hill. If you’re in the dark here, she’s the one whose heavenly voice sings “Baby’s hooked on feeling numb” before Travis waxes of his copious pill and seal popping possibilities. A penultimate of his porn fascination (as we more recently have seen in multiple NSFW Birds videos), Travis uses textbook rapper hyperbole with his Lake Tahoe wordplay in the first verse, although I will say I wish he had kept the Chantel Jeffries “I hope it was wet like my jumper though” Vine sample in there.
The second half of the song reflects Travis reflecting on himself, and any familial strife is put to bed at that point. Travis hops on the beat and forgives the resistance of his father and mother as they have forgiven him, and admittedly high up in it all, he vows to his grandmother that he’s destined for success. This half of the song could have very well been the outro of Rodeo, but it fits nicely with Travis’ earlier reflections on the track about life in LA. Much like “Oh My Dis Side,” “90210” melds Scott’s past and present together as one, and we’re able to witness the inner workings and metacognition of an impending icon.
1. Mamacita ft. Rich Homie Quan & Young Thug
According to Scott, the “Mamacita” beat was made one night with the intentions of passing it to Diddy. Produced by a trio of Travis, Metro, and Dahi, it’s actually only the third coolest La Flame x Brother Love dealing that I know of, as Puff was also in the “All Day” sessions, and thanks to Al Gore there’s even internet gems out there like this:
Of all the beautiful guitar samples that exist within Travis Scott songs, I must say that the first guitar strum of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right” must be the most beautiful of them all. Somewhere in the scheme of the universe, those three gentleman came across the very first note of Bland’s 1973 track, and they turned that note into a monster.
Travis mans the hook, and he bursts himself into the first verse with a little help from some Ye-nodding lyrics (“Don’t think sun shades and a pill gon help, once I’m gone can’t tame myself”). He continues on through the track’s demented introduction, fiending for a girl, and at one point even likening her to crack. La Flame comes across as damn near deranged with the help of some distortion, and “Mamacita” tested deeper waters than ever before in that regard. Songs like “Mamacita” are examples of what made manager David Stromberg tell Variety “Travis was a dark, mysterious, kind of scary guy.”
To say nothing of Rich Homie Quan’s vocals: Quan’s relationship with Trav and Thug has since dissolved, but his contributions on this track stand neck and neck with Quavo's efforts on “Pick Up The Phone.” Whether on the hook or in his closing verse, whether using slick Lil Wayne references or using Wiz Khalifa as a barometer for how high one can possibly be, Rich Homie Quan lowkey stole the spotlight of this song.
“Mamacita” was actually only the second Travis Scott track to grace major music services like Apple Music or Spotify, the first being the 2 Chainz version of “Upper Echelon.” And though Travis’ relevance is continuing to grow, “Mamacita’s” relevance will remain afloat, because it sticks to the nostalgic principles of La Flame.