JACKBOYS doesn’t know “WHAT TO DO”


John Dawes, Entertainment Writer

After Travis Scott became a superstar off his album ASTROWORLD and his 2019 single HIGHEST IN THE ROOM it felt right that he’d head back into the studio soon. Travis brought his label mates from CACTUS JACK in Don Toliver, Sheck Wes, and Luxury Tax 50 all with him to make JACKBOYS. A moody, spacious album that is lopsided at best and wastes amazing production with lack luster artist performances at worst. 

JACKBOYS is pegged as “collaborative” album but it doesn’t even get close to splitting the workload. There is one Sheck Wes song, one verse from Luxury Tax 50, two Don Toliver, one transition song, and the final three are for Travis Scott. It doesn’t take a mathematician to point out this is extremely unequal in its load.  

While Sheck Wes and Luxury certainly use their limited time to its fullest Travis does not. Despite being on all but one song the album Travis often sounds like he is shilling it in. Static, flat, and unemotional sum up his performances on GANG GANG and HIGHEST IN THE ROOM. Out of place sums up his roles on OUT WEST and GATTI. Especially on “GATTI” Travis simply can’t find a pocket to rap on. It is hands down the worse song. The one silver lining is Don Toliver, the burgeoning star puts incredible emotion, passion, and a unique spin on the three tracks he’s on. 

It doesn’t help that the features take up so much space on this already short seven track album. The features routinely outperform the artists who are supposed to be the main selling points of JACKBOYS. Rosalia brings immense passion and energy to HIGHEST IN THE ROOM, a song with a mediocre Travis Scott coasting on auto tune. Young Thug delivers an energetic and bouncing performance but ultimately unoriginal and forgettable one on OUT WEST that accounts for another weak Travis performance. The only features who fail to deliver are Quavo and Offset on HAD ENOUGH. They sound awkward on and stiff on the almost r&b beat which Don Toliver is far more comfortable on.  

However, there is one thing that is consistent across the whole album. The moody, atmospheric production is JACKBOYS strongest feature by a mile. Whether it’s the powerful and booming synths on HIGHEST IN THE ROOM that bless the outro, the haunting guitar and orchestra in WHAT TO DO? all courtesy of producer Mike Dean, or the soaring, moody, and tasteful samples on OUT WEST and HAD ENOUGH. There is almost too much to gush about, too bad the artists don’t abuse the top-notch production. 

JACKBOYS had the ability to be great. Its powerful production is borderline wasted with uninspiring verses and choruses. When an album is only seven tracks long you expect it put its best foot forward every song. JACKBOYS is only a couple verses away from putting that forward because of its already stellar beats. Hopefully we see what the CACTUS JACK label is truly capable of soon. 6.3/10