YOUGOOD? X TRAVIS THOMPSON
I can admit that when Travis first made it onto our radar with his superb video for Father Forgive Me the 907 was on the fence. We didn't know what to think - his lyrical prowess was not in question but instead his image and sound. He spoke of being Native but looked closer to Andy Milonakis than any reservation residents I have known and I have dated a fair skinned Native woman in my day. So instead of letting the perception stick we went and did some research. We went back a bit to play older songs we could find to make sure what we watched was not some drastic artistic facelift after years of something not so polished. That is exactly what we did NOT find. We found out that Travis worked tirelessly to perfect his ability to bar-up furiously around what sounds like a lisp. No easy feat. We also learned from asking around and observing the corners of Seattle that began to champion him shortly after the success of the afore mentioned video - that he was also a Seattle native who repped his section (Ambaum) with pride although it may not have been popular. Personally after my third watch I was sold on the artistry and everything else sort of went out the window, I built a wall to keep out the wack comparisons. Travis continued to shine with an impressive Kinda Neat episode, shout out to Intuition and his crew for providing that platform. That was another level of validity for the 907 - we understood what that moment meant in the grander scheme. It meant that his biggest opportunities were right in front of him and that was an accurate statement but also where perceptions took another turn. He caught the heavy DAVE B. (one of rising stars from Seattle) comparison and with a high pitch delivery and consistent melodic moments we couldn't help but put the two side by side as well. The fire only increased with the help of Macklemore deciding to have Travis open back to back nights in the Key Arena over Dave B. who may still be the one to credit the sound too in some circles and was surely a bigger name on the national front at the time. We quickly were silenced when it was announced Dave B. would be going on the first International leg of the tour.
Since then everything has changed. Travis and his crew of friends and business minds have not missed a step. They have visuals releasing regularly, a collaboration with popular local foodie spot Lil Woody's, merchandise that is properly advertised and a cult following that Travis is more than willing to engage with and he creates experience that are beyond music consistently. One of his most impressive marketing moves was inviting several adoring fans via social media direct messaging to listen to his latest full length YOUGOOD? with him in an undisclosed location pre-release. He was out on social media placing merchandise in different locations for fans to scavenge. That kind of effort needs to celebrated in an era of rappers that feel like promoting their own music is taboo.
I started with playing the album in the shop but it was on July 4th that I really lived with the music keeping one earbud in throughout the entire day and letting the same songs that resonate catch me over and over again. Travis is a true story teller it makes me think about his Native American heritage and he tells you plenty about it through the body of work. Immediate standouts are Nothing 2 Do, True Religion & Muddy - they have the best chorus to verse combinations. Tyler and Travis have it down to a science - Travis never leaves the pocket and Tyler can make it sound big and full or hold off leaving things empty enough for Travis to roam on the plain like a Gazelle and he does. He is everywhere in the right way he sings, there are plenty of layers and melody when he's not and I point this out because it's so in your face the whole time. He proves he's a songwriter on every hook even when he could have let Parisalexa crush the No More hook he threw an effect on his voice again playing the pocket making sure not to do to much and it works. It's impressive. He stays true to his homies like he says in most songs so the only features are familiar voices ParisAlexa and Nyles Davis. Nyles also never seizes to amaze me as he crushed his verse and wrote poetically about finessing goods for goods on my favorite track True Religion. The two have been working alongside one another for quite some time now and you can feel that energy in their delivery and more. There are moments that I don't love on YOUGOOD? but those moments are small enough skip being put under a magnifying glass. I like 92% percent of the album - I'll let the rest of the world deal with that other 8%.
All in all Travis reverted back to the classic format of making an album with songs that fit groups of concepts emotions and target audiences. As a well rounded artist you need to show your versatility as a writer thinker and performer. He spoke to loser kids, the popular kids, rich vs poor, chasing women, chasing dreams - the human condition. Then there is the attention to detail, all the voicemail skits are like little stitches that connect you to the next piece of the story and in the end the theme is still standing, after all that life has thrown your way are YOUGOOD??
A personal favorite:
"...Cause fuck it we love the feeling/ We dump the guts in your building/ leave with a souvenir/ and show up to swim again/ your apartments the closest near" - Travis Thompson via Nothing 2 Do.