Rapper and producer Travis Scott, 23, is one of the most polarizing and intriguing figures in hip-hop today. Born Jacques Webster and hailing from a suburb of Houston, Scott was first known for his relationship with two megastars: rapper T.I., whose label imprint puts out his music; and Kanye West, his mentor and a frequent collaborator.
Like West, Scott is a college dropout with a middle-class background who chose music over higher education. Scott has a lot in common with West when it comes to attitude, too. He's passionate — almost to a fault — and a recent spate of controversial outbursts and actions has earned him a reputation as an enfant terrible.
Scott is both a musician and a master thief. On his full-length debut, Rodeo, he appropriates the sounds and aesthetics of forebears like Kid Cudi — as well as contemporaries like Chief Keef — to create a dark, visceral sonic collage of his own.
Musically, Rodeo is sprawling: It blends the cinematic synths of Atlanta's trap scene, the aggressive percussion of Chicago's drill music and the AutoTuned sing-song rap of the city's bop music with the "more is better" maximalism for which West is known.
Lyrically, Rodeo is debaucherous, disaffected and rude, with an air of causeless youthful rebellion. This is attitude for attitude's sake — or, more precisely, because the words aren't there to convey deep meaning as much as to accompany the music's overall mood.
Travis Scott's musical collage is all about atmosphere. Some will dismiss Rodeo as derivative, but that's not Scott's concern. He knows that if you're going to be known as a thief, you should be known as one with impeccable taste.