Travis Scott – Owl Pharaoh – The STiXXclusive Review

            The newest G.O.O.D Music signee Scott Mesc – I mean, Travis Scott, had the bloggers and fans all in excitement when he announced his upcoming mixtape (or ‘street album’ if you’re fancy) which was initially supposed to drop months ago. So they waited, and waited, and waited some more. Then when it was announced of the time (12pm Coloured People Time = 3pm), the anticipation grew – then it didn’t show up, then people got impatient, and then people didn’t even care anymore. After the release of it all, everyone’s energy had been sucked out by waiting that the hype didn’t suffice the wait for the mixtape, and that’s where a lot of people saw the flaw in wanting to enjoy it. As for the mixtape itself – there were a lot of contrarians towards this, and I can understand why they felt the way they did. It was a blend of too much of other people’s rap styles thrown on his beats that seemingly reflected Young Chop (not all the time, but similar). I knew initially that this was going to be a great mixtape as far as production went, because I don’t think much of Travis as a rapper. That may change in time, but that’s where my head’s at right now. There was creativity that was brought to this much anticipated mixtape, without further adieu, let’s dig in.

Owl Pharaoh

First off, the title & the artwork tripped me out, because it’s a guy hanging from a tree (Owl possibly), but he’s hanging like, you know, a lynching of sorts. It makes sense on Meadow Creek as to where that comes from because you hear what sounds like Confederate men chasing down a (let’s just say) slave screaming at him until you find out that it’s just a weird dream sequence. I like how he incorporated the percussions that were supposed to be random sound effects – that was cool.

The reason why I “slipped up” on calling Travis Scott, Scott Mescudi (Kid CuDi for those who don’t know the government name) becomes evident on Bad Mood/Shit On You. Vocally and flow wise, you can definitely hear that it’s there, and then on the 2nd verse, you can hear the Kanye influence. The funny thing is that on every ‘major independent label’ (i.e. G.O.O.D, YMCMB, MMG) the artists that started them; the ones they sign all take a bit of their flows & vocabulary from their leader (the reason why many say Big Sean tries to sound like Ye, and Nicki Minaj with Wayne). This is no different, so I wasn’t all that worried about it – everyone lacks original flow (let’s say 90% to be safe), so that’s not a big deal. Right from this sequence of tracks, it felt like a mash-up of Indicud meets Cocaine 80s. I can dig the sound from this point.

For those who didn’t know (like me about 3 days ago), Travis is also signed to T.I’s label, Grand Hustle (the example I used about Leaders and whatever, it also applies to him as well). T.I brings a trap influence, so on Upper Echelon I wasn’t surprised that this sounded the way it did (this is where my Young Chop reference comes in). T.I absolutely bodies this track (he always kills guest features) and the beat alone forces your arms in and down motions while your head bobs like crazy. I found it HILARIOUS that you hear 2 Chainz’ intro at the end and then it just cuts off.

Toro Y Moi is an artist that I started listening to a couple of months ago, and he makes some cool music, there’s no lie about that. On Chaz Interlude you hear an example of just what he brings to the table, and it was really different but intriguing to hear him on this type of mixtape – it’s not exactly ‘let’s have a good time, we’re all cool’ type of music, but it provides a jiggy bounce for the 1:40 timeframe that it occupies. It emphasizes a somewhat break in a dream sequence that just grabs a hold of your attention for a moment before you get thrown back into the wolves.

Uptown. Is. Crazy. And the reason why that may be is simply because of A$AP Ferg. I honestly think that Travis doesn’t bring that energy to an energetic track like he’s supposed to, and Ferg covered ground and then some. It’s really all about the beat and Ferg (Traplord coming soon). Hell of a Night summons (yet again) that inner Kanye, even right down to the style of ‘Hell of a Life’:

I think I fell in love with a porn star
And got married in a bathroom
Honeymoon on the dance floor
And got divorced by the end of the night
That’s one hell of a life – Kanye

Our first kiss in the livin’ room
We did drugs in the bedroom
But she caught me fuckin’ in the bathroom
Rubbers all over the bathroom
That’s a hella way to end the night – Travis

Although there are differences in the songs, Travis really won’t be able to escape the Kanye comparisons throughout his career unless he has a significant change. It was softer approach as far as the mixtape went, but I liked it.

Here’s a little story about Blocka La Flame which I was told: this was originally Travis’ song, but I guess Pusha wanted it, so he gave him the beat for it and thus Pusha cranked out Blocka which has had trapsters and Jamaicans going off in ghetto religious rejoice. Now, this track is essentially the same thing with a splash of synthesizer thrown in there and Travis’ lyrics accompanying the beat instead of Pusha. Here’s the problem – if you heard Pusha’s version before Travis, you won’t like this – you’ll only stay for the beat. If you didn’t hear Pusha’s version, listen to that after you listen to this, and you’ll understand why people don’t like this version as much, because that’s exactly how I felt. It’s all about timing. A lot of people are sick of Blocka because it’s already on Wrath of Caine, so hearing a slightly different but not as energizing version will have you Kanye shrugging your way to the next track (which I did…but not until I finished listening to the beat – it’s so hypnotizing).

Naked felt like it was another Chaz Interlude, but it wasn’t – it was actually one of those tracks that every rapper has (and they all have at least one); the emotional outpour and keeping it real for a moment just to let the listener feel exactly how the artist is feeling not just in the song, but their overall mindsets. Being a new signee, a freshman, and a (potentially) rising star has its share of greatness and tremendous nightmares.

Tears dripping on my pillow thoughts is in my head
See my dreams jump out my window if I follow I’ll be dead
And I been waiting all week
To talk this shit but instead
Gon’ have to burn this roof down for these niggas to understand

It’s not easy to roll with fame, but that’s always the fear when you become popular – people will just be gunning for your downfall and will enjoy every minute of it when (if) you fall flat on your face and need a hand to help you up (I can hear Meek Mill screaming in the back of my head because he always raps about this). Kendrick has the ‘Heart’ series, Drake has his Time series (9AM in Dallas, 5AM in Toronto), and Chance the Rapper just recently with ‘Acid Rain’ is a great one as well. This isn’t exactly on their levels, but it’s a noteworthy example.

I have no idea where Travis was able to dig up Paul Wall from the Abyss of Hip Hop, but he certainly did for Dance on the Moon. The beat/hook screams Kid CuDi everything until it switches up on an apparent chopped & screwed version and then Paul Wall shows up (which is basically the best part of the whole thing).  MIA was just as the title stated – missing in action. My eyes completely glazed over because at this point, the beats were repetitive and nothing was interesting me anymore (Trap inspired beats will often do that to you, although the ‘MIA’ call in the hook reminded me of some sort of Native Indian ritual). Drive on the other hand reminded me of Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia/ULTRA with the tracks being played and stopped like a tape cassette being fast forwarded, but when it got into it, yet another unlikely collaboration happened – James Fauntleroy (ironically from Cocaine 80s, whom I made a reference to earlier). I liked this beat a lot, but you know when there could be more done to a song? I’ve been having the same feeling for essentially the whole mixtape, but the vibe of this song was cool as Travis went back and took us on a walk in his past as he ‘drives’ through his old hood and puts a picture into our heads to imagine. I like vivid imagery of sorts when it comes to music – that’s pretty much what’s supposed to happen at times and that’s what makes great music.

The one thing that you can appreciate is that there’s necessary balance on this tape when it comes to the sound: a little rough, a little smooth – everyone’s happy. Quintana is what I like to call ‘Blocka Pt. 2’, because it’s really the same thing, just with Wale (which I really need to have the version without him, because seriously – he doesn’t fit). I’m not a drug dealer, I don’t smoke, but I feel like one when I listen to this. The beat is really the only thing that keeps me listening to it over and over again (the hook too, because I love saying “STRAIGHT FROM MEXICO CALL HER QUINTANA” – how could you not?).

Having the last 2 songs featuring MMG artists on beats that sound like everything else? Sure why not. Bandz was nothing special, but it’s one of those songs that will energize a spot (everyone just wants club songs for the summer – you can’t blame them). I feel like DJ Khaled is in the background just itching to say something like Porky Pig at the end of Looney Tunes. THAT’S ALL FOLKS!

This wasn’t worth the wait because if we’re putting this in a real perspective – how is it different from what we’ve already been listening to all of last year and even the opening months of this year? Just like the little girl in the AT&T commercial,we want more”, and if you’re going to make your fans wait on you forever for a much anticipated mixtape – at least come harder than what you put out with this. I thought it would have been better given all of the hype, but it was really like watching an action movie with a slow development that never reached its peak. I hope he puts out better stuff in the future, but it’s still not a terrible start. Listen to it, and if you enjoy it, then enjoy it. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review

That’s My Word & It STiXX

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