Record Radar: The Weeknd v. Travi$ Scott

MOVE columnist Kennedy Simone reviews new releases from The Weeknd and Travi$ Scott.

By Kennedy Simone | Sept. 8, 2015

Tags: hip-hop Music rap r&b Reviews

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A long-time fan, I’ve been listening to The Weeknd since his days of anonymity and solely-Soundcloud releases. His debut album, “Trilogy,” put me in the best winter-long emotional rollercoaster I’ve ever experienced. Left with somewhat low expectations set by his previous album “Kiss Land,” I’ll be honest with you: Before listening to his newly released album, “Beauty Behind The Madness,” I’d rather sit through Miley Cyrus’ 2015 VMA’s performance again.

Opening with “Real Life,” this track is an amazing prelude to the beauty of the album. With explicit honesty, The Weeknd finally gets extremely personal, admitting that his own mother knows he’s not the type to be in love and has a tendency to self-sabotage. Honesty is a major theme in this album. The Weeknd got more personal than ever and opened up emotionally to reveal parts of his life that he’s never shown before in his music.

Although there are some real tear-jerking songs on “Beauty Behind The Madness,” don’t think you won’t hear songs about the singer’s drug-induced orgies and wild sex-capades on tracks like “Tell Your Friends” and “Often.” I mean c’mon … this is The Weeknd, not Kidz Bop.

The key element that makes this album worth listening to is its fresh new take on R&B production. Lyrically, The Weeknd is still the same guy serenading broken-hearted girls and singing about his wild nightlife. Production-wise, you have a talented artist finally willing to take some real risks and step outside the (sound)box that he’s built his career on. Combine the two elements, and you have a beautiful album to make you cry and dance at the same time. Don’t be surprised if you hear one of his songs at the club either. The Weeknd is a new man.

If you know me, it’s no secret that rapper Travi$ Scott is one of my favorite artists (if not my actual favorite artist). His music is wild, progressive and fearless. Scott has an amazing energy that’s hard not to fall in love with. Since seeing him live at his infamous Lollapalooza performance, I’ve been desperately waiting for his debut album “Rodeo” to drop Sept. 4. The date came and went, and now I’m here to tell you the story of the rodeo.

“Wake up n---a/gotta get the cake up n---a.”

“Pornography” is the intro to Scott’s life of chaos and gives his fans the raunchy, gritty lyrics and bass-filled production that they live for. This song gets you excited to enter the rodeo. Upon entry, you’ll sadly realize that the seemingly crazy event might not’ve been worth all the hype.

Moving on to the more heavy-hitting tracks like “Wasted (feat. Juicy J)” and “Piss On Your Grave (feat. Kanye West)” have an intriguing darkness that invite you into Scott’s world filled with trap-beat-laced, country-western melodies and carnival-ride samples. Songs like “Impossible” and “Ok Alright (feat. Schoolboy Q)” show a completely different side of Scott, with the rapper expressing touchy topics like loneliness and becoming famous despite a dysfunctional childhood.

Although the album had some decent tracks, “Rodeo” didn’t meet my expectations at all. Listening to the album was like waiting for a volcano to erupt but only getting a searing smoke. Songs like “Nightcrawler” might catch your attention and feel like club-bangers, but listen for a minute or two and you just know that the energy is not there. In its entirety, the album is full of songs about raging, but none of them make you want to actually rage. I’ve gotten more hyped off of Drake’s “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.”

A world where Drake makes me feel more turnt than Travi$ Scott is a scary place I’m not sure I really want to live in.

The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind The Madness” is without a doubt the better album. It has lyrical depth that connects with you on an emotional level, but oh-so-flawless production that you can still move to. Travi$ Scott’s album on the other hand? “Rodeo” is like a wart … it grows on you, but you still hate it.

Bonus Play

Song: “Stimulated” Artist: Tyga

Yeah, yeah … it’s a song about Kylie Jenner. Go on and say that she along with the rest of the Kardashian/Jenner clan are irrelevant (even though I’m 99.9 percent sure most of you still click on those E! articles and scroll their ’grams). All shade aside, this song sizzles. Sampling a ’90s trance track entitled “Children” (questionable choice, Tyga), Tyga throws the middle finger to the haters and does so over a beat cold enough refreeze the ice on his girlfriend’s wrist. Lyrics? C-. Beat? Priceless.

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