Travis Scott’s new project, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, released to much anticipation and hype on September 2, 2016. Coming off of last year’s amazing Rodeo, Travis’ trajectory only seemed skyward. Much to the dismay of fans, Birds seems like it is a boring regression of his music. The first half of Birds did seem promising enough, but the album is crushed under its own expectations during the second.
“The ends” is an interesting intro, but the leaked “Europa” version is ten times more interesting with spacy production being handled by Cashmere Cat and vocals provided by Andre 3000. The second track, “way back”, is a banger with solid adlibs and weird hums by Kid Cudi. The best song, “coordinate”, is interesting because it really shows the influence that Future has had on rap. Listen to this song and imagine the dirty sprite king mumble Travis’ lines. An influence that is more overt on Travis is his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi. “Through the late night” is a boring tribute to Cudi, with even a few lines taken from Cudi’s “Day ‘n’ Nite.” Nothing is added by Cudi on this track, other than a verse that seems like he was trying to fit as many big words together in a sentence that he could, and make it rhyme on top of that. The fifth song, “beibs in the trap”, is incredible. Toronto-based rapper Nav almost sounds like he could be Justin Bieber, and the contrast of his voice against Travis’ is colorful. The song itself is a dark hedonistic tale of drugs, with production that is mood-setting and evocative. The halfway interlude to this album is the peak, where Travis shows that he could not make a good album in the time since his last.
“Sweet sweet” is a mediocre song backed by airy vocals and sound effects ripped ripped from late 90’s ringtones, and the song shows that Travis’ lyricism has reached an all-time low. One of the common complaints of the Houston rapper is that he never really raps about, well, anything. Birds shows Travis has actually found a new definition of anything, because some of his lines on the album are straight garbage. It seemed like he had a chance to put some effort into his lyrics with a feature by Kendrick Lamar on the song “goosebumps”, but Travis had somehow sapped even Kendrick from saying anything interesting. The only notable song left is “Pick up the Phone” with Young Thug, but that song was out for a year before Birds landed.
All in all, the new Travis Scott album is nothing notable. It is not a good jumping off point for newcomers looking at his music, and it does not keep his fans happy as they wait for something newer, broader, and more innovative from the artist. This stopgap album is disappointing, because it just makes you wonder what he has been doing for the past year. It definitely wasn’t this.
By Joseph Gardner