Continuing with his recurring theme of yearly releases, Travis Scott returns with JACKBOYS, a collaboration album with his label, Cactus Jack. The main culprits are Scott, Sheck Wes, Luxury Tax, and Don Toliver, with occasional features from non-Cactus-Jack-artists. The album is a messy hodgepodge of hastily cobbled together beats, and doesn’t have a coherent identity. There are few high moments and many low moments, and the album is definitely not a follow-up to ASTROWORLD.
The opener is the familiar HIGHEST IN THE ROOM, but it is a remix featuring Lil Baby and ROSALÍA. The track is just as stale as before, with only the first verse being potent. The ROSALÍA feature is definitely a miss, and I could have gone without hearing her attempt Scott’s famous ad-libs. Lil Baby’s verse is actually quite solid, but can’t save this song. Mike Dean’s outro synths are just as good as before, but I still wish it were longer.
JACKBOYS is simply a menagerie of opening synths to set the tone of the album. But HIGHEST IN THE ROOM just did that. This should have been the first song on the album. Our first impressions were already made, but again, this is a nice tonesetter.
GANG GANG is a track that features the entire club of Jackboys, and is an interesting piece. The instrumental is really, really barebones and stripped down. I don’t appreciate how barren it is (it reminds me of Hot Shower). However, the vocals from Scott and especially Don Toliver are incredible on this track. Don’s chorus is one of the few high points I mentioned earlier, and I feel that this could have just been a solo track from Don, but instead it was muddled by a middling Sheck Wes verse and a disappointing Luxury Tax verse.
HAD ENOUGH is the first thematic track on the album, and it deals with Don Toliver, and the featured Migos, talking about a girl who has “had enough” with them. This is unquestionably the most complete song on the album, and the vocals of Don Toliver mesh well with Quavo and Offset’s.
OUT WEST really pains me. On one hand, you have a generic, boring flute beat that doesn’t get me going or make me even remotely interested. But on the other hand, the Young Thug feature is perfect for this song. He simply glides on the garbage beat, and crudely describes his sexual escapades. Scott’s vocals are once again, in my opinion, uninspired.
WHAT TO DO? is what I came to listen for. This is what I expect from a Travis Scott project, and it is incredible. Travis finally shows up when the project needed him most, and the Don Toliver verses are top-notch. This guy doesn’t miss. I peg this as my favorite track on the album, despite the again lame beat.
JACKBOYS closes with GATTI, a collaboration between La Flame and newcomer Pop Smoke, who offers more of a UK grime style. He and Scott don’t mesh well together. The song is disjointed and Pop Smoke is unlistenable at times. The beat is, like most, if not all the songs on this tape, boring and uninspired.
JACKBOYS filled me with hope when it was announced, and it seriously disappointed. You don’t have to take my word for it; ask any Travis Scott fan and they’ll share the same sentiments. The album is a sloppy, unfinished, mess. Only two, maybe three, songs stand out. I hope Cactus Jack can rectify this with the release of pack 2. Until then.