No Love Lost on Scott’s Birds
On the surface it seems Scott has released yet another opiated album for late debauch nights and intoxicated car rides but a closer listen reveals Scott is more nuanced than many would like to give him credit for. And to be fair, the majority of the album’s first half finds Scott in the pigeonhole where we’ve placed him. By the time we get to the Kendrick-featured “Goosebumps” at track 9 though, Scott has dug into the meat of the album several times, though the theme remains surprisingly overlooked; the romance responsible for album’s biggest hit and its title. It is no coincidence that album’s title is full of elements that would incite an R&B album.
Birds, or broads, depending on who you’re listening to, are the first clue into the revealing the album’s direction. Birds singing Brian McKnight makes it clear that Scott has turned his focus to the powers of R&B as he channels one of the biggest love acts of the 90s. And while the reps have released statements saying the “Back at One” singer was in no way involved with the album, the only available promotion for the LP was a video of Scott leaning on a grand piano played by McKnight. Scott spends the video alternating between releasing birds, which could be symbolic in itself, and looking over LA with melancholy. Further implying that Scott is musing over a love interest on the album is the promotional video’s title “Bitch You Broke My Heart”.
While the pills, parties and an affinity for his hometown Houston have certainly taken a hold of 24-year old Scott on the album, some bird has Scott reeling throughout the his most anticipated project to date. Chronologically, Scott touches on the subject early, though lightly on “Beibs in the Trap”. Employing the name “beibs” on the song might be an allusion to the Canadian hearthrob’s ties to love and R&B, but Scott uses the hook to admonish a girl for overindulging. He appears somewhat disgusted that someone whom he saw something in had was freefalling. Later, Scott revisits the dystopian nature of the scene with Roy Woods and K Forest on “Guidance”. “And I found that you’re bad for me// I found out you had someone” he sings on a bewildering Afrobeat. The message could certainly be lost in between Scott succumbing to his muse’s desires and retrieving more drugs for the girl, while observing other girls in the party self-medicating. But this disappointed mode Travis invokes on the song is to return several times throughout the album.
After a slight interlude featuring Cassie, Scott uses the rest of the album checking on a bird who it seems never responds to him. His outcry for her is present on more songs than just “Pick Up the Phone”. “Sweet Sweet” finds Scott again checking on his potential SO. “What’s your status?// Might hit your address, if I’m on a mattress”. His charming curiosity turns into angst and even an anger due to his anonymous love interest getting higher than advisable by his standards. Several things about her make Travis decide “hanging out with you is a no no”. Still, she’s too sweet to shake.
Unwilling to lay all his player cards down though, Scott finds himself at V-Live, in Houston’s 3rd Ward and Outside with 21 Savage when he’s off the pillowtalk. In fact, it’s Cassie there again on “Lose” when Travis realizes that roaming the 713 and other precarious scenes isn’t what he needs. A girl might be what keeps him in the house when the streets are at fever pitch. When the peer pressure is off and the streets have slipped in a syrupped slump, Scott is back trying to build on whatever it is that has him fixed on this girl who seems a lot like the female version of him. She just won’t pick up the phone. And although penned by ghostwriter Starrah and carried by Thugga and Quavo, Scott is fully invested in the song’s theme.
The engaged Young Thug is singing wedding vows with Quavo driving the sympy point home, where Scott knows she is. La Flame commandeers the song seamlessly without receiving even production credit. It gets deeper from there with Scott growing more and more in touch with his feelings, bordering desperation at times. Perhaps love is the only drug Travis needs in this life of high octane intoxication. But he needs it nonetheless.
Scott’s ability to set the amorous tone and recruit the most prolific voices in Rap beautifully corrals the album’s features into a love lockdown. “First Take” finds Travis and his lil’ homie Bryson Tiller pleading for some compliance. Tiller is stuck trying to have his call answered and pick up the pieces of a relationship that never grow out of its adolescent, college phase. The unlikely combo of Kendrick and Travis finds the always in-his-feelings Kendrick Lamar preaching about a pussy that’s to die for. It’s much deeper than pussy for the two, though. Kendrick with his second-to-none introspection wants to “pick apart her brain and put her heart together” with Travis invoking a more primal way of expressing his feeling by getting goosebumps when around her, likely paired with butterflies.
Unfortunately, Scott’s otherwise cute puppy love is obscured by his trap junkie persona, which, when overlooked, discards a large share of this album’s meaning. While it may seem that Scott has hardly developed since our first major introduction on Yeezus, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight clearly finds a new Travis Scott upset that partying and bullshitting has him searching, ill-advised, for a love that won’t be come to fruition in the ward he finds himself today.