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The great Travi$ Scott debate has pit rap fans against each other since the dawn of internet memes, the concluding factor after months of fervent argument being that there is no sort of Switzerland when it comes to Travi$ Scott - You either love him or love to hate him, since it's been impossible to ignore him. For the past few years, the Houston rapper has been synonymous with the current wave of haunting adrenaline-induced rap bangers, steeped with blunted bass, howling synths and auto-tune ad-libs as La Flame has tactically involved himself with everyone riding the specific popular sonic wave from Rihanna's 'BBHMM' to Kanye West's 'All Day'. He's a hybrid of rap's current trends, packaged and repurposed to stimulate the internet's demand for constant theatrics, strategically ensuring he falls on the right side of public perception with each amalgamated collaboration. He's the leather-clad statue of hype-beast culture. The epitome of the disillusioned millennial generation's unadulterated ego and attitude. The rage of grunge, the energy of punk with the grit of rap delivered on a cosign-heavy pedestal. The industry's most productive plant.

So all that is to say that there has certainly been a lot of hype surrounding Scott's debut album, as Rodeo arrives roughly a year removed from his acclaimed Days Before Rodeo mixtape. While an entire tour spent alongside Young Thug, dangling from ceilings, climbing speakers, stagediving, fighting security and starting riots, ensured his army of angst-fueled fans were behind him and ready to dish out their disposable income to cop the release leading up to Rodeo's distribution, signing to Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music collective as a producer and to T.I.'s Grand Hustle and EPIC Records as an artist, aided the bold and hyper rapper's continued chess moves by granting early access to desired features and sought after production credits from some of the most currently relevant talents in rap at the moment, from the likes of Future and Metro Boomin to Kanye West and The Weeknd to Justin Bieber and Thugger. All cards were stacked in his favour. But within hours of leaking a week before Rodeo's official release date however, the trusty internet had already downloaded, toyed with and re-released a Travi$ Scott-free version of his own album, with strictly the features left. The jig was up.

So how then does an album with so much hype, buzz and support surrounding it, with an all-star lineup and top notch production credits wind up as a mediocre disappointment for even those who had caped for the 'Antidote' rapper for months leading up to its release? Simple. The spark of La Flame that made smash cuts from Owl Pharoah and Days Before Rodeo is missing from the equation throughout the 14-track delivery. Sub-par lyrics and shallow content has always been a given with the 23-year-old rapper, but through atmospheric production and captivating execution, Scott has consistently managed to bang his head against each club hit with such a powerful energy in his music that he harnesses a unique and unmodified brashness, making any other forced aesthetic attached to him forgivable. This time however, Travi$ didn't bang as hard.

Noticeably modeling itself after Common's narration on Kid Cudi's Man On The Moon, the Rodeo begins with Grand Hustle king T.I, whose southern drawl-infused narration starts us off nine light-years away where according to hypnotism via Tip, we become "consumed and utterly mesmerized" by his story of a young rebel refusing to comply to the ways of authority, before transitioning into La Flame's melodic croons on the album opener 'Pornography'. Although Tip's spoken word duties and deep monologue about misfits on a song titled 'Pornography' may be the thing that leaves you consumed and utterly confused, it's quite evident from the start that Rodeo's theme of rebellion and chaos have be thrown together seemingly haphazardly and lacking in execution as a cohesive project. Ironic in a way.

Even the best parts of the album like the Quavo-assisted banger 'Oh My/Dis Side' and the project's first single '3500' featuring Future and 2 Chainz overstay their welcome and are drawn out with distorted instrumentation until you just want them to finally end, clocking in at six and seven minutes long a piece. But the distorted testosterone-infused Kanye-collaborated anthem 'Piss On Your Grave' and surprisingly hypnotic 'Maria I'm Drunk' that enlists Young Thug and Justin Bieber for the most moody and intoxicatingly dissonant delivery since 'Marvin's Room', both offer a refreshing breakthrough. Spearheaded by the Canadian superstar's surprise release of a spastic fit of bars, before reigning the energy into a seductive R&B croon, 'Maria' is the album's ultimate win, with 'POYG' as the opus' surprise gift, since it was previously reported to be a collaboration between Kanye and Sir Paul McCartney, set to appear on Yeezy's forthcoming album SWISH.

Although Rodeo may register as subpar in comparison to past Scott releases, weighted down from high expectation and debate, it's almost certain that Trav's reign as rap's trend connoisseur isn't over quite yet. And the album will surely serve as great background music for his live shows to crawl, climb, dive and mosh to, because that's what people pay to see from him regardless. It's just disappointing that in the midst of a year defined by monumental hip-hop albums, Travi$ Scott chose now as the time to come lukewarm. A travesty.

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