Self proclaimed 'Billionaire' Travie McCoy, from Gym Class Heroes fame, releases his debut solo album this month. The result is an eclectic mixture of electro, RnB, hip hop and indie. Whilst transitions from genre to genre may be smooth, the album simply doesn't sit right, begging us to ask the question; what sort of artist does Travis McCoy want to be?
The leading song Billionaire, although a Top 3 UK hit, seems an unusual choice as a first single due to it actually sounding very out of place, compared to the other songs off the record. Using obvious influences from Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz (the congo drums are a huge giveaway), Billionaire's success has come from blasting the song loud across summer beaches and lazy sunny days.
The album however soon diverges from genre to genre. We see pure bubblegum pop in Feel Good, reminiscent of the late Michael Jackson, rock undertones in Need you (set to be the next single off the LP), and even a bizarre sampling of Supergrass' 'Alright' in We'll be alright. Each song, even though sounding great, just seems like it shouldn't be on the album, and this becomes quite worrying when all the songs provoke such a reaction.
Travie returns to his hip-hop roots in both The Manuel and Akidagain, which has similar undertones to Jay Z's 'A Hard Knock Life'. Yet again, however, it is very strange that between these songs is We'll be alright; a song that sounds like it would be the lovechild of Supergrass and the recent 3OH!3. Why this song even made the album is beyond me. It is obvious that Travie is trying to suit all tastes and is possibly trying TOO hard on his debut effort and so in turn, not establishing a consistent record. It is not until the very last song on the album, Don't Pretend, in which we see a real side of Travie; a song dealing with the hardship of love in which we see true raw emotion and a more realistic side behind the voice. It finishes the album nicely, but one wonders why it took so long for him to get personal?
There is no denying, however, that Travie McCoy knows how to make a great pop song. He must be commended highly for writing all the songs personally, and with major popular cultural references thrown in, ranging from John Mayer to Oprah, it is evident that Travie McCoy knows exactly who he's targeting with this record. Dr Feel Good, the opening track, is pure fantastic pop, combining retro funk with rap, creating a strange concoction that has to be released as a future single. After Midnight (a song you would expect off a JLS album) also proves to be a fun pop song that you can imagine playing in clubs across the world.
Generically, this album is good and one shouldn't criticise it too much. But it simply is just that; good, not great. As a debut album, it should be able to define Travie McCoy as an artist and it sadly fails on this. Jumping from different genres does not pay off and the result is an album that's good to listen to but nothing to rave on about. Travie has got a long way to go still until he can detach himself from Gym Class Heroes and be the 'billionaire' he very much wishes to be.
2.5 Stars (out of 5)