Houston native rapper Travi$ Scott, born Jacques Webster, released his debut studio album Rodeo on September 4 after multiple delays. Scott stays true to his signature elemental darkness on Rodeo, but the full-length, released by Grand Hustle and Epic Records, features more playable and up-tempo cuts than his earlier work. Much of the heavy, druggy haze that often created a leaden feeling on Scott’s 2012 Owl Pharoah and 2014’s Days Before Rodeo has been dusted off and the music has been brought into, if not the clear light of day, a room at least markedly less murky. “Rodeo” was ushered onto the red carpet of fall album releases preceded by the single releases of “Antidote,” and “3500,” a track featuring fellow Southern rappers 2 Chainz and Future.
“Pray 4 Love,” the sixth track on the album, featuring The Weeknd, is a five minute seven second piece that’s as danceable as it is unnerving. A deep mumbling bass line stays solvent in the song from a quick start introduced underneath Scott’s first verse, urging listeners to, “Pray for who lost they fate/ And died too young.” The trap beats of Scott’s predecessors and his own earlier recordings are present but subtle on this song, most of the production aims for and achieves calculated simplicity. As the cut unfolds, winding in and out of different narratives and tones, a fine-tuned musicality shines.
In that same first verse Scott declares, “Man I can’t take no more of this lifestyle we’ve been livin/ Man I can’t take no more of the white powers in position,” marking a moment simultaneously politically provocative and remarkably candid. Minutes later, after lines chronicling a sexual exploit, there’s a polarizing and charged verse, “Tired of seein these black kids on the face of FOX/ And fuck CNN they don’t wanna see us win.” One can’t help but be reminded of the political climate present in America, of the marches and protests and news segments and the injustice implicit within a society that has yet to rise above hate.
Stream Rodeo via Spotify below.