I first heard of Travis Scott in 2012 when he featured on Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 2 mixtape on the song “I Get It”. He did not sound like anything special at the time, nor was the song a notable highlight off the mixtape, so I overlooked the song when it came on. The first solo Travis Scott song I heard was “Drugs You Should Try It” when I stumbled upon it on my Twitter timeline, leading on to me checking out his Days Before Rodeo mixtape. Since then, Scott has ascended to the top of hip hop, releasing three solo albums, one collaborative album and two mixtapes.
From Owl Pharaoh all the way up to Astroworld, here are Travis Scott’s projects ranked worst to best:
The highly-anticipated collaborative album with Quavo is the least creative project of Scott’s career. Based off the type of highly-crafted projects that Travis has given previously, Huncho Jack is simplistic and formulaic. In terms of standard trap songs, there’s enough going on here to maintain interest; “Saint”, “Eye 2 Eye” and “Black & Chinese” are clear highlights, however Travis’ collaborative partner, Quavo, doesn’t offer much variety to the table. As a result, in order to match the aesthetic, neither does Travis. Huncho Jack lacks the advanced production, hookwriting and creative song structures that his preceding four projects possess.
Best tracks: “Saint”, “Eye 2 Eye”, “Black & Chinese”, “Where U From”
5. Owl Pharaoh
Scott’s debut mixtape is a solid mixtape and contains some of his best songs, some of which are criminally underrated (“Hell of a Night”). However, Scott’s influences are far too blatant, making it clear Scott is still trying to find his own sound. Particularly, there is the Kid Cudi influence with songs like “Dance on the Moon”. Sound aside, the vocals have a strong sense of originality that’s gone one to become Travis’s signature vocal style: the deep, evil delivery and straight normal-voiced rapping that is rarely heard in his more recent music. The production on Owl Pharaoah should be highly praised, particularly because most of the mixtape was produced by Scott himself. There are no terrible tracks, but the mixtape does not have its own identity and memorable songs that are on other Travis projects.
Best tracks: “Hell of a Night”, “Bandz”, “Quintana”, “MIA”, “Upper Echelon”
4. Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight
Every artist has a commercialised project; Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight is it for Travis Scott. Although it possesses impressive replay value, Scott watered down his style to tailor to other artists’ approaches. In the process of chasing catchier songs and accessible production, Birds in the Trap lacks Scotts artistic edge, layered production and creative vocal styles. The album opens up well, with the first five tracks being some of Scott’s best songs to date (“coordinate”, “the ends”, “way back”). We finally receive memorable collaborations with Kid Cudi, plus Kendrick Lamar and Cassie provides nice touches as well. From this point on, the album quickly loses artistic steam. Upon evaluation, it is clear some of these songs were not initially Scott’s, whether that is the airy aesthetic of “sdp interlude” (Cassie), the bounce of “pick up the phone” (Young Thug), the cheap attempt at R&B on “first take” (Bryson Tiller) and the dancehall ricochet of “guidance”, which originally belonged to K Forest. Scott sounds like a guest on these songs, despite billed as the main artist. Although the album maintains excellent replay value, the styles of Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight do not belong to Scott.
Best tracks: “coordinate”, “the ends”, “way back”, “through the late night”, “pick up the phone”
3. Days Before Rodeo
The second mixtape by Travis and prelude to Rodeo is a classic trap mixtape, and the first full introduction to Travis Scott. Days Before Rodeo brought an artistic, more thoughtful angle to alternative trap music with the vocal styles and production. The originality is undoubtable and saw Scott find his lane that he went on to own with the best project of his career. The ominous, dark tone is what drives the brilliance of Days Before Rodeo, beginning it with “The Prayer”. It is the peak of Travis’ evil-toned vocal delivery and additional experimentation with his voice. In moments like “Zombies” and “Grey”, Travis Scott is still finding his bearings as a vocalist, and unlocking his best song ideas. However, Days Before Rodeo is a mixtape after all, and these aspects are what a mixtape fundamentally consist of.
Best tracks: “Mamacita”, “Sloppy Toppy”, “The Prayer”, “Drugs You Should Try It”, “BACC”, “Basement Freestyle”, “Quintana Pt. 2”
For a 17-track album, Astroworld is incredibly strong. Scott’s third solo album whisks alternative trap and rudimentary trap to create a fulfilling balance of complexity and simplicity. The delicate details, range in production and star-studded lineup fulfils Scott’s intentions to transform the nostalgic environment of AstroWorld into an entertaining musical adaptation. Tracks like “Stop Trying to Be God” showcase Scott’s flair for collaborations, often taking a backseat to play the role as the man behind the magic. Elsewhere there is relentless replay value (“No Bystanders”, “Houstonfornication”, “Sicko Mode”), with the album granting only one genuine misstep (“Wake Up”). If Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight was considered a step in the wrong direction, Astroworld makes amends by reinstalling creative ambition.
Best tracks: “Stop Trying to Be God”, “No Bystanders”, “Sicko Mode”, “Yosemite”, “Can’t Say”, “Coffee Bean”, “Houstonfornication”, “Stargazing”
The second classic, and Travis Scott’s best project to date, Rodeo builds upon the alternative trap foundation set by Days Before Rodeo and there’s nothing else quite like it. There’s not a single misstep on here, except I’m still not entirely used to the slow pace of “Impossible”. There’s a handful of 6-7 minute songs that transition impeccably between their two halves while incorporating multiple layers within the complex production (“Nightcrawler”). Songs like “Oh My / Dis Side”, “3500” and “OK / Alright” have clearly been carefully crafted as they’re individually packed with multiple ideas that flow perfectly with each other. The most one-dimensional song on here is “I Can Tell” but that’s still a highlight within itself. The guest features never outshine the main act but all merge well with whatever song they’re on, with Chief Keef and 2 Chainz providing the most stand-out guest verses. Plus, Rodeo has the one commercial hit that it needed (“Antidote”). Rodeo is practically flawless and perfectly layered across its sixteen tracks and is the peak of Travis Scott’s artistry.
Favourite tracks: “Nightcrawler”, “3500”, “Oh My / Dis Side”, “90210”, “Pornography”, “Never Catch Me”, “OK / Alright”, “I Can Tell”