Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight

Album review of Travis Scott’s second studio album

Following the breakout performance from Travis Scott in Rodeo, the modern rockstar was highly touted for his addition to new trap music. Scott added to his high-quality repertoire with Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight. With help from some of the game’s biggest stars, the artist added to the excellent year of music in 2016. Such features include Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, NAV, 21 Savage, Young Thug, and Kendrick Lamar. 5 years after it’s release, it kinda flies under the radar due to the explosion of popularity from the coveted Astroworld. In order to reach that level, it is entirely necessary to acknowledge how he got there with Rodeo and Birds In The Trap.

Scott has become a superstar, most of which stemmed from his release of Astroworld, in the current music landscape. From branding Cactus Jack with a beverage to a Fortnite concert (that amassed 12 million live viewers), Scott has not disappointed as he establishes his presence in music stardom. While consensus will say this album is probably his worst, it is essential to the development of the signature style of the Travis Scott we know today. His outrage, party attitude was toned down just a bit in Birds, and largely serves as a charcuterie of style from the artist.

The title of the album, according to Scott in an interview with Billboard, came from being creatively trapped. In a studio session with rapper Young Thug bouncing ideas around, Thug was hit with the lightbulb moment and the rest was history. The cover art itself is dark by nature, heavily filtered with black and purple. This alludes to the vibe of the album — dark and raw. Combine this with the all lowercase song titles and you really get a feel of what vibe the artist was going for. This version of Scott was focused on pure rapping ability. Not that Scott didn’t showcase that before, but Rodeo is more fluff and radio powered hits. As one may notice, the album, at most, only has a max of two songs that went global on the radio. This is more telling of how the radio waves judge music than the artist’s ability to create quality music.

Kicking off with “the ends”, Scott mellows into the track with his classic autotune feature (thanks T-Pain) backed by soothing melodies for the intro. The intro is cut suddenly and we are introduced to a more authentic Scott that tackles a low-key beat with a hard bass backing. Calling on the legendary Andre 3000, this tracks fails to disappoint. Both the artists speak on the respective neighborhoods and making it out, a topic of importance to most rappers, as the conditions don’t allow most people to escape. In the end, we all knew this would be the beginning of a classic.

Skipping ahead to “coordinate”, to me, this was the first song that made me think that the vibe was built different than before. While the project, in general, is more lowkey, this is one of the few songs that are hype. Opening with a brash intro from Blac Youngsta, Scott speaks on coordinating a euphoric high by mixing “the tan” with “beans” (in his Rockstar skinnies). While concocting this adverse mixture, Scott also speaks on the general lifestyle of party culture. This perfectly sets up the next, and arguably best, song.

What’s better than the humming melodies from the legendary Kid Cudi? Literally nothing. “through the late night” bears witness to the collaboration with Travis Scott and one of his idols. The chorus, provided by Cudi, makes this one of the most memorable songs of this album. The song expands on the themes from the song before, basically, sleep during the day and party all night. If you don’t listen to any other song on this album, you should listen to this one.

The next song, solely produced by NAV, features him and is one of the more catching songs of the album. This is arguably one of NAV’s most memorable songs in his discography. From the very first nasally line in the chorus (“I just poured an eight in a liter”), you’ll be hooked and lined into the world of party and cocaine influences. As usual on this album, Scott provides us with solid verses that further envelope you into his lifestyle. While a plethora of songs on this album deal with partying, the vibe they capture and how it’s expressed is still broody and dark. It’s still not the go crazy rockstar emotion addressed in older works. Regardless, tracks like these will having you bob your head all the way through.

The next song slows down the heart rate just a little bit as the “sdp interlude” goes into a wavy, euphoric hitting song that is backed by the high vocals of Cassie. The letters SDP refer to smoke, drink, and pills as this is repeated through the entirety of the song. Many consider the extended version of this song to be one of Scott’s best, but I find it a bit too redundant to be effective.

Next is the ever popular “goosebumps”. If you haven’t heard this song by now, you may be living under a rock or avoiding rap music at all costs. It recently even got an EDM remix (why? idk) that caused the song to regained traction on the charts. The subject of this song is different from before, it speaks on the love interest of the artist rather than the partying we’ve seen before. Kendrick Lamar also makes an appearance in this song. Some (those with bad opinions) will say that he weakens the song, but I would disagree whole-heartedly. There’s hardly a moment Lamar misses on a feature — “goosebumps” is no exception. Both artist ride the track effortlessly.

The next big song that took the airwaves by storm featured none other than Young Thug himself (along with Quavo). Thug and Scott have chemistry in the booth and this song is a prime example. While originally intended for Thug’s project at the time, Scott was in attendance while the song was being recorded and wrote the bridge. They each took this track and did what they had to do. However, Travis took the version with him on it and leaked it on purpose without notifying Thug (Genius). Fortunately for us, things worked out legally, and we got one of the best songs of that time.

The last three songs aren’t necessarily world-changing so they won’t be covered extensively. The outro, “wonderful”, features The Weeknd and serves a solid last track to a great album. It serves as a reflection of both artist past year or so (as they both released an album) along with the celebration of life and women. The duo is an underrated collaboration in my opinion. The strong falsetto of The Weeknd and the hype ad-lib from Scott always creates a banger as seen on this song and “Pray 4 Love” from Rodeo and “WAKE UP” from Astroworld.

Bird In The Trap Sing McKnight captures a creatively trapped Travis Scott that lets loose and does his thing, as he pleases. No longer stuck in the trap of label and creative team complications, Scott has flourished from doing what he does best, creating and producing music. The modern rockstar continues to shine as he collects more and more sponsorships. Where does he go from here as we wait for the highly anticipated Utopia?

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