Days Before Rodeo opens with a dark prayer. Over ominous organs and keys, Travis Scott saunters into the frame and details his restlessness: “After three No. 1 albums, woulda thought I’d feel amazing, still impatient.” 

The albums he references were among the biggest of 2013: JAY-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, Wale’s The Gifted, and Kanye West’s Yeezus, the latter of which represented a sonic shift that Travis has been credited with at least partly inspiring. Not a bad collaborative resumé for a Houston native whose breakthrough moment had come just a year prior, on West’s G.O.O.D. Music compilation, Cruel Summer

Fast-forward a year, though, and assisting legends while producing for a new class of stars like Wale and Big Sean wasn’t satisfying enough. Or, to let Travis himself tell it: “I might fuck ’round, lose my mind. I gotta break out.” 

Much has been made of the career crossroads at which Travis Scott found himself in the waning days of summer 2018, before the release of ASTROWORLD. His third studio album presented the opportunity to either vault him into the A-list stratosphere or leave him stranded in the upper-middle class of rap. We all know how that worked out: There are showstopping Grammy performances, Super Bowl halftime appearances, and a current status as rap’s No. 1 most sought-after feature as reminders. August 2018 solidified Travis as a superstar. 

Five years ago in August 2014, Travis Scott was presented with a similarly high-stakes, career-defining moment—one that, had he not conquered it, might have stalled him out as a compelling G.O.O.D. Music affiliate, and nothing more. Instead, he delivered a project that many fans still use as the gold standard to compare the rest of his albums to: Days Before Rodeo.

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