New Houston Rap: Travi$ Scott Rides in Another Rodeo

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MIXTAPE OF THE WEEK: Travi$ Scott, Days Before Rodeo

A year ago, Travi$ Scott emerged from Houston obscurity, Tumblr fanfare and the tutelage of Kanye West, T.I. and others to release his Owl Pharaoh EP. For much of the tape, Scott felt like he was doing more of a solid yet distorted impersonation of his influences rather than being himself. He raps in a mumble, the loudest things about him are a stage persona where he's been known to rap from the ceiling and his production -- abrasive, earth-shattering and heavily reliant on 808 drums, timely snares and distortion, his weapons of mass audio destruction.

Where Owl Pharaoh faltered was just that: Scott wanted so badly to carve out a loud, outsider feel to his creativity, as if we weren't going to understand him no matter how many times he yelped "straight up!" or attempted to beat us over the head with punched-in drum programming and frenetic pacing. You couldn't fit Scott in anywhere, despite creating an anthem like "Upper Echelon" that damn near blew a hole in Warehouse Live when he performed it earlier this year.

Tuesday, the rapper released his second project, Days Before Rodeo, which distances itself from Owl Pharaoh as fast as possible. There's a heavier emphasis on melody, Scott singing in abstracts and doing his best to play to the strengths of his costars such as Migos, Peewee Longway, Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan. Scott has found himself a motley crew of Atlanta artists most would dub weirdos -- Thug's vocal warble is best described as indecipherable -- and crafted a damn good mixtape with them.

Best Track: "Mamacita" feat. Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug The best representation of Scott's constantly evolving production can be found within this cut's idle piano-key strike and frantic snare arrangement. Quan and Thugga have a chemistry that few can replicate, and Thug sounds as direct as ever, both here and on "Skyfall." Scott does offer a salute to Houston women in his rather off the rails verse. But these two are smoking California reefer in Colorado and Homie, with a bit of wit, combines Lil Wayne's own mother Cita into "mamacita."

A secondary best goes to "Drugs You Should Try It." It's as if Scott knew damn well his strong suit was crafting mood music in hazy acrobatics, and the lonely guitar melody here is addictive. Days Before Rodeo is Scott in his lane, even when combating the absolute kitchen-sink chaos that is "Sloppy Toppy," where a soul sample immediately gets purged and bathed in gothic 808s and repetitive one-note takes and Migos' triplet flow chewing up the scene. Download Here

Chay$e; Purple Love EP Any EP you crack open where the opening lines are digging into pretty heavy territory (namely abortion and consideration of living), you're going to want to figure out where the hell things went to get to that point. Chay$e, another one of those Houston talents you might miss if you blink, surmises plenty of thoughts and emotions in her 11-track project curated and produced by Houston-to-Atlanta producer Cameron Wallace.

There's tinges of EDM, syrupy Houston nostalgia (actually, lots of nostalgia) and pop ballads. Only a woman with a point to prove or an R&B singer with that "down on my knees" simpering a la Keith Sweat would dare sing on your voicemail wondering why you won't take her hand.

Best Song: "Drug$" Maybe it's Wallace's use of those firework-like drums that made Kanye West's "Paranoid" a fun listen, but here Chayse utilizes them to turn every thought about sipping into a metaphor about love around vocal flips of Trick Daddy's "I'm a Thug" and Aaliyah's "I Don't Wanna Be Alone" near the closing refrain. This may be a drank head's favorite song in the world. Stream Here

More new rap on the next page.

Doughbeezy, "Breakin Boyz Off 2" If you recall, "Breakin Boyz Off" was one of the few freewheeling moments from Doughbeezy's 2012 mixtape, Blue Magic. Two years later, the sequel arrives and the video doesn't disappoint.

See, there's the giant mural dedicated to the late DJ Elroy Boogie front in center in the beginning of the video. Then there's Dough getting whipped around the block, sitting atop a coughdrop-red slab driven by Headwrecka and bundle of unpredictability DoubleBe. It's simple but effective directorial work from DJ Young Samm, and when you have a song called "Breakin Boyz Off," the hell do you expect other than double cups and slabs?

Propain feat. Rich Homie Quan & Kevin Gates, "2 Rounds (Remix)" To be perfectly honest about "2 Rounds," Propain knows exactly when to strike. The song has been in a form of existence for nearly a year now, whether in its original form as a groovy sex track or this remix where Kevin Gates shows up and fits in rather seamlessly. Nothing about the song's makeup changes outside of Pro's new verse and addition of Gates. GL Productions still keeps that merry-go-round of thump and chord going for a more than perfectly acceptable remix.

T2 The Ghetto Hippie, "All the Time" "Down for whatever, try anything twice," is the understatement of "All the Time." It may be a remix of Tove Lo & Hippie Sabotage's "High All the Time," but the sentiment provided here by T2 and producer TrakkSounds is even nastier. Consider this: how often have you flat-out wanted to smoke your pains away? Just completely put your brain on airplane mode and proceeded to just let go for a little while? That is what this record is all about.

Izzar Thomas, "Gone" When I first got ahold of Izzar Thomas, he felt like another rapper looking to find his way, waddling through that wayward stage where rappers tend to rap about any and everything without a solid grasp on it. Thomas didn't flail about like some others but he had a drive about him. His new release, "Gone," is slower with hums, colliding snares and his own harmony bubbling in a swamp. It's a lot of festering thoughts being released about an old flame, echoing sentiments like "I thought you left me but now you're gone." Ouch.

Cory Jreamz, "Freedom" If you want to argue that Kanye West sparked a minor revolution in production that calls for more distortion and angst then fine, you may have a point. If you want to argue that Cory Jreamz, a kid who I've followed as a teen and now a noticeable rap name on The FADER, of all places, is going somewhere following this exact template, you may have a point. "Freedom" may be as topical a rap song as any other at the moment, questioning police shootings, interracial relationships and the actual rhetorical cost of freedom.

Brando writes about Houston music to death, right here and as editor-in-chief of dayandadream.com. Follow him on Twitter at @_brandoc.


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