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Stereo Embers’ Track of the Day: Travi$ Scott’s “3500”

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It sounds like there’s a good three or four songs packed into Travi$ Scott’s new, almost eight-minute single for his upcoming major label debut, Rodeo. Unfortunately for Mr. Scott, it seems doubtful a track as lengthy and imposing as “3500” would be at all effective as a lead-in for his new project. But fortunately for his pre-existing fans, “3500” is a potent, if imperfect, dose of the lavish and progressive trap music he demostrated a near mastery of with his last mixtape.

Like I said, there’s a ton going here. As to be expected from La Flame and his closest collaborators though, none of that complexity shows up in the lyrics department. Scott — who previously stated he’d be moving away from the Atlanta sound present all over Days Before Rodeo — does no such thing, teaming up with ATLiens 2 Chainz and Future for a series of lengthy verses. Nothing of substance is said across any of the track’s eight minutes, but the vocal performances are to be enjoyed not for what they mean, but for how they sound; Future’s faint, warbling melodies are catchy as hell, though he doesn’t go as hard on “3500” as he has on recent features like A$AP Rocky’s “Fine Whine” or Vince Staples’ “Senorita.” 2 Chainz brings his usual over-the-top bravado, saying extremely stupid things with unshakeable confidence (the undoubted highlight: “Call my momma’s house the Jag station / Emoji — sad faces”). And Scott, for his part, delivers a solid enough verse, but his propulsive earworm hook is the real star of the show; it’s a manic cacophony of distorted and auto-tuned vocals layered over hyperactive EDM-trap style drums that bursts through the comparatively quiet verses at mach speed.

Around the six-minute mark, the vocals drop out entirely in favor of a virtuoso display of production chops. The brooding keys and subterranean 808s that mark the song’s quieter moments grow slower and bassier with each bar while string and piano flourishes drop in and out of the mix, as if the beat is gradually dismantling and going haywire.

“3500” ends on a series of descending sub-bass notes that seem like they’d serve as the jump-off point into another dark, unpredictable La Flame banger. But for now, those notes are left to ring out unresolved. Travi$ Scott has been hinting at hitting us with what seems like 2015’s millionth surprise album release, so who knows when Rodeo will actually surface.

But between his excellent 2014 mixtape and this strange beast of a single, I’m more than intrigued.

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