(Travis Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight Review)
Is Travis Scott’s new album considerably better than his debut? On September 2nd Scott released his long awaited Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight via iTunes. The album features a number of A-list collaborators such as Andree 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, The Weeknd, Young Thug, Bryson Tiller & Quavo from Migos, but does it matter?
Scott’s first major release was the highly anticipated and instantly forgettable Rodeo. Thus prompting him to quickly follow it up with Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. This time around, he went as far as promising a solid album saying ‘’Every track is a banger’ but is it really his best work to date?
Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight opens up with The Ends. A song that starts off the record with Scott’s signature auto tune drenched vocals over a spooky synth, giving us that classic Travis Scott feel that made him a staple in recent years. It’s also worth mentioning that The Ends also features Andre 3000 from Outkast, providing the closing verse of the song… So far so good. The second song on BITSM is titled Way Back, and once again, Scott doesn’t fall short and delivers his signature recipe resulting in some more auto tune drenched vocals, but this time over a brighter beat as heard on Rodeo’s highlight Oh My Dis Side. In my opinion, Way Back is a solid track with strong lyrical content delivered by Scott’s typical flow. Standout lyrics include ‘’ Need my Rio de Janeiro and I’m swimmin’ out that b**** Michael Phelps with the medals ’’. Next up is Coordinate, which starts off with the help of Black Youngsta, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a feature since his contributions are equal to a lengthy voice mail. That being said, Scott handles this one on his own, it might not be a BITSM highlight but it’s very fitting with the project’s mood.
Fast forward to Through the Late Night where Kid Cudi brings out the best of Scott, creating a standout on BITSM. Scott even goes as far as quoting some of Cudi’s Day ‘n’ Nite lyrics before flawlessly jumping into his own flow. He may be lacking rewind worthy lines here, but it doesn’t even matter since the mood is dark and the vibe is perfect. Take Cudi’s word for it “The vibes are effervescent, delicious, just how they should be”. Early in the album, we can feel that the mood is clear and when Scott goes for something a little brighter like he does on SDP Interlude & Sweet Sweet, the record is still cohesive. However, the flaws start appearing at the tenth track, First Take, where Scott never really finds his footing on a slow T R A P S O U L -ish beat which in fact, features Monsieur Bryson Tiller himself. By the end of the song, you hear what it could have been, if it had been a Tiller Featuring Scott song rather than what we got.
Then comes my first real issue, previously released songs end up on the album. I mean, officially released and not leaked songs, Pick up the Phone, Guidance & Wonderful were all previously released. Pick up the Phone was released in June as a Young Thug & Travis Scott joint and as the story goes it was originally supposed to be a Young Thug feat. Starrah & Quavo’s song. Listening to the original version kind of disappoints with Scott’s lack of creativity by taking the song. Next up is Guidance, which was also released in June by Brampton, Ontario’s K. Forest, making Scott’s version feel more like a remix then an album worthy cut. Finally, Wonderful was released by Scott on his Soundcloud in December of last year, which makes a year old song on a highly anticipated album not worth the attention.
Now the question is do these songs deserve to be on this album? That’s impossible to answer, since these songs previously released by Scott have already run their course on most fans. He left us only with Guidance as new material and it doesn’t fit the mood that BITSM had established so far. However, I must mention that after the First Take decline, there’s one gem hidden between the previously released bunch. The song is called Lose and with the help of Hooch (which did not make BITSM DON’T ASK ME WHY!) could have completed the album in a cohesive fashion fitting the album’s mood.
Blah blah blah, cohesive cohesive cohesive but…
In 2016, this COMPLETE cohesive element is the missing link found in all of the great hip hop albums released this year, such as Untitled Unmastered, The Life of Pablo, Coloring Book & Blank Face. Why did Travis Scott finish the album the way he did? One can only speculate, perhaps too little time once the hype train got going with the release date. Perhaps better songs didn’t make BITSM due to sample clearance, perhaps that was the issue with Hooch (still not over that) or maybe his focus had already shifted on the upcoming G.O.O.D. Music compilation he’s executive producing. One thing is for sure, at times BITSM felt rushed and potentially could have reached higher peaks if its ending was as grand as its opening. We can certainly call this album Travis Scott’s second best project and depending how you feel about Days Before Rodeo, possibly his best project to date.