Thursday, July 28, 2022

Travie McCoy Vents it all Out in New Album 'Never Slept Better'

Co-founder of the Gym Class Heroes, Travie McCoy released 'Never Slept Better' on 15 July 2022. Intimate and intense, the body of work is somewhat of a memoir. It chronicles his life, from the stigma he faced being bi-racial as a kid, to the dark side of fame. Drug addiction, the ups and downs of romance, it's all soberly and passionately divulged on this project. 

One can easily pick up on the rock and hardcore rock influences, hip hop, as well as alternative pop here. It comes together to result in a rich range worthy of exploration. It's a curation of funky retro sounds, boom bap rhythms- the type of tracks you can cruise to.

The action all starts with 'Stop It', a laid back song that's simple and nonchalant. He's taking control and has ''got it locked down like the Vatican"'. He talks about how he's a ''brand new Trav'' and makes it clear he doesn't want any interference from anyone. It's all about him right here, because ''you not it'''Déjà fait' is all about the pressures and falsehoods that come with fame. He says he doesn't want to be famous anymore and it's a burden. Being the kingmaker that he's been in music, the issue of opening up the industry is raised. The pill-popping, fast-paced life he lived is unveiled here. As the title suggests, it's already done; he already achieved and lived the high life.

As one would imagine, 'Down And Out In LA' is a song dedicated to hitting rock bottom. Describing Los Angeles as a "shitty city", he mentions how the place pulled him under. At this point in his life, he's depressed and has no one to talk to. That's why he says, "who can I confide in when my mind's the opposite of happy?" At the end of the day, he dropped most of his habits and is on a mission to seize the day. 

'A Spoonful of Cinnamon' has a simple, upbeat melody but it tackles some pretty serious issues. McCoy is reminiscing about memories of his friend. He talks about the death of that friend and family members. ''You would think I had season tickets to funerals'' brings a light tone to the subject. 'Another Round' features a country melody and the topic at hand is regrets in love. You get a picture of attachment, especially with lines like ''withdrawal symptoms from losing you''. Ultimately, he's willing to tolerate the ups and downs in love. 

Another relationship song, 'Full Monarch' is where McCoy expresses his need to break free. He needs room to spread his wings, and the relationship is presumably what's holding him back. He puts it plain by labelling it a "constant disconnection". And that's what's keeping him from flying twice as high, or going full monarch. He wants you to see that socially shy side of him in 'I Am Pagliacci'. He tackles the issue of growing up bi-racial, describing himself as "the proverbial sore thumb". McCoy admits to skipping a few showers but having friends who accepted him as he was. He gloriously confesses that he's still "chubby and reclusive''

The Best Part of Revenge' is another one focused on love. Travie describes a toxic relationship filled with pretence and misunderstanding. What was once beautiful has now turned sour. The girl he was with has turned into someone completely different.  Straight-up sensuality is what 'Karma Kama Sutra' goes for. He's convincing a girl to ''indulge'' in what he calls ''the pleasure principle''. It's all to do with the exploration of intimacy. In 'Broken Barometer Blues' there is mention of a lover who "changes like the weather". The barometer he's supposed to read her with is broken because he can't figure her out. It's interesting because this is the second time she leaves him. 

Now while the title of 'I Will Never Be Loved' seems a little dark, the song itself won't leave you crestfallen. Yes he's begging a girl to take him back but she dumped him for drug addiction. He remembers all the times she stood by him while he tried getting clean and he assures her he's done with drugs. All the desperation is then diluted when he says; "wherever you are / I hope you're happy" and "I'm living for me". 

Travie McCoy truly brought this project to magnum opus level. It's an honest personal history that takes us through the evolution of his personality. Even through all the tough and rough experiences, he seems to have come out as a rehabilitated individual. It's easy to tell that he's never slept better and his past doesn't haunt him at night. 

This is definitely not an album to sleep on.

Gavin Mndawe

@Gavin Zilani Mndawe

Image: 'Never Slept Better'  Official album cover

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