Travi$ Scott – Owl Pharaoh
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Record Label: Grand Hustle/Epic
These days, it seems that more and more rappers are taking the route that guys like Kanye West took so many years ago by double majoring in rapping and producing. Artists like Big K.R.I.T, Hit-Boy, and J. Cole are some of the most recent and notable to show proficiency in both fields, but there are many more that are trying to do the same thing. Travi$ Scott is one of those many more. The 21-year-old artist from Houston is not only signed to T.I.'s Grand Hustle label as a rapper, but also to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label as a producer. These are two separate labels ran by two big hitters in the genre, and Travi$ Scott is signed to both of them. Put simply, he has our attention.
Despite being on both of those labels, we don't really know much about Travi$ Scott. He's been featured here and there over the last year or so – he had an at-bat on Cruel Summer and offered a bit of production on a few tracks, and he's been on mixtapes from Meek Mill, Pusha T, and the 2013 XXL Freshmen Class (which he was a part of). As such, Owl Pharaoh, which is being branded as an EP/mixtape, is really our first exposure to Travi$ as a solo artist.
The project has undergone a series of delays throughout the last couple of years, so when it finally dropped it was easy to get excited. This is supposed to be a guy with immense talent in both rapping and producing, and with all of the delays it appeared he was taking his sweet time with it. There's word of an 'album' version of this EP/mixtape coming at some point, but unfortunately, this version of Owl Pharoah feels like a half-baked, unfinished compilation of demos.
Look no further than “Upper Echelon” for proof of a project that still has construction tape around it. The track list clearly says “featuring T.I. and 2 Chainz,” and he even released a full version of the song last month as a promotional single. But here, the track cuts off at 2:53 right after we hear 2 Chainz yell out his own name before he has a chance to spit his verse. Maybe Scott is planning on cutting the verse for the final version, but to include this version of the song here is not only questionable but insanely frustrating. The song itself is great; it's a bombastic trap banger straight from the textbook of Rick Ross, but ends up becoming a glaring mistake on the tape.
This isn't the only sign of an incomplete whole, though. The mix on some of these songs is horrible and, at times, borderline unlistenable. On “Quintana,” the low-end 808 completely dwarfs the high-end percussion and leaves you looking for a snare and almost coming up short. On a lot of the tracks, Travi$'s voice sits at an awkward level in the mix and ends up being way too loud or buried by the music. It's even harder to make out what he's saying when he has a chopped and screwed vocal effect sitting behind his normal vocals, which happens a lot on the mixtape. The entire thing feels like it was put together in a very sloppy way.
Technical problems aside, the music itself doesn't fare much better. Travi$ Scott has plenty of flow and style, but neither of them are distinctly his. You can clearly pinpoint what he's trying to do and who he's trying to be like throughout the project. On the aforementioned “Upper Echelon,” he's channeling his inner Meek Mill on the hook while going for a Future-esque verse, but comes off as a cheap knock off of both. “Hell of a Night” sees him using a sample from Kanye West's “Hell of a Life,” and Scott's verse is so close to the style of any number of Kanye verses that its hard to take him seriously. Elsewhere, “Bad Mood/Shit On You” directly rips off of the beat from “No Church In The Wild” and, in the latter half of the song, Scott tries to imitate Kid Cudi and somehow fails. He wears his influences on his sleeve but fails to be even half as good as them, resulting in lackluster rapping that bogs down every track here.
Owl Pharaoh suffers from the complex problem of being both incomplete and bloated. Its run time is just under an hour, which is far too long considering the quality of the content. But the project also feels like its missing something; from the poor mixing to the flat-out incomplete songs, it leaves a whole lot to be desired. First impressions are important, and the impression Owl Pharaoh gives me is that Travi$ Scott is a mediocre artist. Maybe a full version of this project will change those feelings, but at this point, there's no reason to be excited for a more 'complete' Owl Pharaoh.
I went and created this account for this terrible review
This EP is definitely a worthy canidate for mixtape of the year
You can't tell me that Meadow Creek was one of the best intros of the year
Upper Echelon is a banger and so is the video
Uptown has one of the most distinctive beats, another banger
Hell of a Night was original
Blocka La Flame is a better version of Blocka, instrumentally speaking
Naked is cold
Dance On The Moon could be a single and go mainstream, and it has one of the best transitions to a screwed up instrumental
Lex Luger killed MIA and Travi$ murdered the hook
Quintana is a banger that you will have on repeat
Bandz could also be a mainstream single, another banger
Travi$ Scott is 21, too much potential
Travi$ Scott is up next
Remember this when he becomes mainstream