Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, by Travi$ Scott: Review

Birds has some highs but no clear signs of who this rapper is yet. 6/10

Identity is an integral part of your personality; it’s an important thing. It’s possibly the most important thing when it comes to musicians. For most artists, their identity defines why their music sounds like it does and is a central plank of their popularity.

Travi$ Scott is still trying to find his. At least that’s the feeling you get after listening to his latest serving and second studio album Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight’ (I am yet to come up with a coherent explanation for the title of this album, and he is yet to give us one).

The album is filled with all the usual traits of a Scott album. The drums are technical and nuanced yet grandiose at the same time, hard hitting 808s with pellets of snare drums that are dispersed across the tracks with a reverberating deep bass. Even the wizard himself Mike Dean makes an appearance, a regular collaborator of Scott’s due to their close affiliations with Kanye West, his instantly recognisable epic guitar solos can be heard as the closer for Way Back.

Everything is heavily modified and distorted, especially Scott’s voice. His rapping and singing are almost robotic, something that has definitely become a staple in his music and identity. This is as far as the familiarity goes though. A lot of the singles on this album feel like karaoke, like Travis is doing an impression of all his rapper friends during one of their studio sessions. The Ends sounds like a knock off Drake’s No Tellin’.

Through the Late Night sounds like a beefed up version of Kid Cudi’s Day n Nite even more so because Cudi is a featured guest on the song, and Travis borrows his exact flow and some of the lyrics from Day n Nite. Biebs in the Trap, Sweet Sweet and Outside all sound like songs that would fit into any of the modern day rappers’ catalogues … and a lot of modern day rappers’ catalogues aren’t impressive at all.

In fact, for a good eight songs, the album sounds like one continuous track. There’s little variation in pace, subject matter, speed or instrumentation, and even the interludes do little to separate the motif as they sink too deeply into the fabric of the album. Sadly, only the last four songs make you stand to attention; Pick Up the Phone with the enigmatic Young Thug and Guidance with PND (PartyNextDoor) bring a welcome change, thanks to the Caribbean-infused sounds with steel pans and dancehall samples. Lose stands out thanks to its epic and engaging horn section, whilst ‘Wonderful’ proves to be… well a wonderful closer mostly due to its feel-good effect and The Weeknd’s sweet high pitched singing serenading you into a manic dance.

For somebody who proclaimed that he was “everything but a rapper”, Travi$ Scott is starting to sound a whole lot like one.

When he burst onto the scene three years ago with Owl Pharaoh we were given the sense that he was an artist’s artist, an eclectic musician who fused each and every one of his influences and created fun, dangerous, moody, aggressive and ethereal concoctions with all those ingredients. Unfortunately, Birds in the Trap… is far from that.