Travis Scott’s sophomore album, Birds in the Trap Sing McNight, follows in the same aesthetic path cut by his previous album and mixtapes while making a significant advance. Here, Scott displays the phantasmagoric and kaleidoscopic sound for which he is known, but with a degree of concision far beyond his previous works. The project is explicitly a composite of Scott’s preferences and influences over the past decade or so of hip/hop. It’s a kind of mosaic of hip/hop material – lyrics and riffs – taken verbatim in some cases and close derivation in others. Scott flexes familiar sounds, samples, and lyrics from artists spanning Drake to Swizz Beatz and repurposes them to create a decidedly recognizable yet utterly unique soundscape. As he does with “Beibs in the trap”, repurposing a common subject as slang for cocaine, the whole album is unconventionally derived from convention. The result is a deeply gothic and somehow regionless tone somewhat reminiscent of Kanye West but with a syruppy, almost-but-not-quite Texan euphoric disorientation. The only significant shortcoming to the tape is Scott’s famously superficial and often poor rapping ability. His lyrics are disconnected dark and heavy poetic fragments uttered in his typical apocalyptic vanity. Most bars are short, melodramatic sprints which fall to huffing and puffing cheesy ad-libs. He treats this well by substituting his own rapping abilities with rap monoliths like Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, and Kendrick Lamar, as well as up-and-comers like Bryson Tiller and 21 Savage. Birds in the Trap Sing McNight is a shattered mosaic of recent hip/hop recollected somewhere in Scott’s dark and poetic dream-world and arrives as a somehow overly-ambitious success, but a provocative success nonetheless.
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