Heavily auto-tuned, Houston’s Travis Scott may seem just another robot-voiced rapper stretching his limited vocal range into a kind of soul music for the singularity: a casualty of modern pop existing in a focused grouped box that’s within a box and produced in a factory.
Yet there’s an earthy charisma beneath the synthetic veneer of Scott’s wildly popular 2016 release, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. First, there’s the loping, whooping chain-gang backbone of “Way Back,” Scott testifying to the awesome spectacle of Houston Rockets star James Harden when he finds the range.
And then there’s something of the old-time bluesman on McKnight album-track “The Ends,” a strongly narrative tale about a predator conning kids to their demise with promises of fame and fortune in the music biz. Scott growls: “I gave up on the Bible long time ago … I came up in the town, they were murderin’ kids/ And dumped them in the creek up from where I live,” and you can feel it’s true.
Scott’s a natural storyteller. And throughout McKnight, the conceptual brio, future-leaning production and sweaty veracity put Scott in line, in the eyes of many, to be heir apparent to one-time collaborator and reigning hip-hop king of self-promotion, Kanye West.
In fact, Scott recently broke his own world record performing his own song “Goosebumps” 15 times in a row, the kind of absurdist concept rap stunt that surely leaves West slapping his forehead like, “I’m losing my edge.”
But for Scott’s fans, the rapper’s frenetic stage show and electric mic presence are what it’s all about. Scott was recently arrested in Arkansas for inciting a riot at his performance. He pleaded not guilty and was released without bail, proving one person’s riot is another person’s show business.
Travis Scott brings his Bird’s Eye View Tour to Eugene alongside Khalid 8 pm Friday, June 2, at Cuthbert Amphitheater; the show is all ages and SOLD OUT, but in 2017 there may still be ways to score tickets to the areas most hotly anticipated show of the summer. — Will Kennedy