“Down in Atlanta,” the latest single from Travis Scott and Pharrell Williams, is a bouncy, entertaining love letter to southern hip-hop’s center and the birthplace of trap, Atlanta. However, it lacks the swelling grandeur that makes Scott’s best work amazing.
The track features the heavy, crisp bass and tapping trap drums that can be expected from Scott by this point in his career. Williams’s impact on the production and mixing is clear as well, as the legendary producer is able to create a classic danceable bounce. The beat starts strong, and accelerates as it moves, growing into its chorus as Scott’s voice raises registers. In the second chorus, the bass groove is matched with a high, screaming synth that hangs and bends nastily off key. The beat keeps moving, and adds enough to remain fresh throughout. There is nothing truly surprising thrown at the listener, which we have seen from Scott at his best, but the instrumental break near the end of the song provides an exciting contrast.
Scott’s delivery is similarly simple and effective, with characteristic autotuned vocals and high-pitched adlibs. His lyrics focus on his appreciation for the city of Atlanta, referencing cultural landmarks like the pub “Graveyard Tavern,” the strip-club “Magic City,” and a clever reference to Cleveland Avenue with “Not talkin’ LeBron home when I say I’m in Cleveland.” The song is an homage to trap culture, which Scott has become an integral part of. His performance isn’t lacking energy or clever one-liners, but it doesn’t bring anything truly new and exciting lyrically or vocally like he does in some of his defining verses on songs like “90210” or “Antidote.”
This song is good — it’s clean, grooving, and fun, as could be expected from a collaboration between two industry veterans like Scott and Williams. But, it lacks the powerful mix of features, glittering bridges, and epic beat-switches that made Scott’s masterpieces on albums like “Rodeo” so special. “Down in Atlanta” is a high-quality single, but it isn’t a good sign for fans who hope to see a return to Travis Scott’s heights of musical ambition and originality.