Travi$ Scott’s reputation precedes him. He’s not the most original artist there is, in fact he’s been accused of outright stealing songs from the earliest stages of his career. Even with the criticism Travi$ has developed into one of the more popular artist around but his new album Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight offer the clearest evidence that he does, indeed, use other artist’s work as his own.
Stealing seems like a harsh term, since surely there was some money or favors exchanged but this much can’t be denied, Travi$ Scott clearly threw two tracks on his album that weren’t originally his. At this point it’s well publicized that “Pick Up The Phone,” the successful first single from the album originally belonged to Young Thug and a singer-songwriter named Starrah from Delaware.
Now, just a few days after the release of Birds the original has leaked, showing that Travi$ added little to the track beyond his voice reciting Starrah’s lyrics, some auto-tune and a few additional synths at the end of the track.
Compare the original.
To the version that ended up on Birds. (NSFW)
The rumor is Travi$ was in the studio when the song was recorded and eventually added his vocals and began playing the track at shows and DJ gigs claiming it was his, long before it was ever set to be released. It’s unclear what the original plan was for the track but whatever it was you can see why Lyor Cohen was so upset, but eventually a compromise was reached and the song was released as “Young Thug and Travi$ Scott featuring Quavo” with Thug’s name first at all retailers.
The second song — for now — that clearly belongs to someone else is “Guidance,” which clearly features another voice but since the album lists no features on Apple Music, that person is anonymous to the uninitiated.
Sifting through the additional info on iTunes reveals the name Kashief “K. Forest” Hanson as one of the composers of the track, and that’s for good reason since “Guidance” was initially K. Forest’s song.
The Brampton, Canada native premiered the track on HotNewHipHop to little fanfare back in June. But Travi$ clearly noticed as he remixed the track soon after.
And, just like “Pick Up The Phone,” Scott made a habit of playing it at his shows as a Birds track.
Within a month Forest was discussing the collaboration with La Flame on Twitter.
And by the time Birds was close to release it was hardly a secret.
What’s becoming apparent is much like his idol Kanye West, Travi$ is a gifted curator with an uncanny eye and ear for talent. While his contributions to both tracks were minor, there is some talent in being the one to find and incorporate them into his project. It’s every bit as blatant as what Kanye did to Desiigner’s “Panda,” and may diminish him as an artist in the eyes of some, but Birds is undeniably a solid album and maybe his best project yet.
It should be noted that this is hardly a new practice in the industry. It seems like every other week Beyonce or someone else is being sued for using somebody else’s track. This has existed as long as the music business has, or art period, as the — supposed Pablo Picasso — saying goes “good artist copy, great artist steal.” And for their part, K. Forest and Starrah don’t seem all that bothered by the whole thing.
Even though Travi$ didn’t thank either of them in his Twitter thank you to all those who were featured on Birds.
So they were talented enough to steal from, but not popular enough to mention. That’s the business I guess.