Owl Pharoah, the dÃ©but mixtape by 21-year-old Houston rapper-producer Travi$ Scott, was released last month after an eight-month delay; it now appears as a close precursor of the grating minor-key synths on Kanye West's Yeezus. Scott is one of several rumored co-producers on the Kanye record; both Yeezus's "Guilt Trip" and Owl Pharaoh's "Blocka La Flame" revisit Scott's hook on Pusha T's "Blocka." (Both records also feature Bon Iver/Justin Vernon.)
Scott's new video (or "film," as the titles grandiosely proclaim) for "Upper Echelon" opens with a two-and-a-half-minute southern gothic preamble, nearly as long as the song itself. Scott emerges from a forest as roosters crow to the tune of Owl Pharaoh's Bon Iver showcase "Naked." He approaches a porch, where 2 Chainz stands guarded by two guys with battle axes. T.I. (who signed Scott to his Grand Hustle label) is outside, throwing dice or something.
BuzzFeed's Matthew Perpetua has demonstrated how easily one can narrate music videos in the voice of Bill Hader's Stefon. I'll just say that Stefon has never been to a party this grimy. An owl flies past the camera, two blondes hula hoop in a kiddie pool, a dude pours lighter fluid on a grill, an old white guy in a suit stammers into a cell phone, overweight women hold back pitbulls. A kid freaks out on a walkie-talkie while grasping a blue teddy bear in a fetal crouch.
Via tin can and string, 2 Chainz requests a "muthafâ¢â¢king boat," which two little people subsequently deliver. After a standoff with T.I.'s crew, Scott rows away in a haute-prison striped suit. I wish Ain't Them Bodies Saints had been more like this.