Yesterday, Travi$ Scott tweeted out (and then deleted) the pre-order link for his debut album, Rodeo. The cover by photographer Kevin Amato, who's shot for magazines and brands like Hood By Air and Opening Ceremony, features Scott as an action figure (another image shows the rapper as a doll standing on a monster truck). It's unusual artwork, but definitely unique.
According to Amato, who also shot the cover for Scott's mixtape Days Before Rodeo, says Sony Records was initially hesitant about two things: The initial concept, and letting Amato, who doesn't often shoot still life, work on the project. But, Amato says, Scott wouldn't back down on either—he knew exactly what he wanted. And what he wanted was for Amato to shoot the cover, and an action figure in his own likeness, the latter being a direct reflection of the rapper's interest in collectible toys and video games, says Amato.
The action figure, which will be on sale as per Scott's announcement on Instagram yesterday, is a huge part of the album roll out. "The doll was really held under wraps, on lockdown basically" explains Amato. "People were flying this doll, it felt human at one point... I didn't even see it until the shoot," he adds. The action figure is, Amato says, almost the size of a Ken doll. "He wanted it to be able to fit in the trucks and cars, sit next to Barbie in a Corvette." It also has two different heads—one with a more energized expression on the face, the other more neutral and straight-faced. "It's kind of an interesting thing. It also makes multi-personality Travi$," he says. "I mean, for me it was good because if you know Travi$ and his energy... It was nice to have one still object 'cause his energy is so amazing."
Amato admits that shooting the action figure presented its own obstacles. "It's hard to find someone to shoot a doll and not make it corny or cheap or be able to bring this to life. It's like a still..." he says. "It was animated but i didn’t want to make it look like a doll." What helped, he says, was listening to the full album during the shoot.
The artwork isn't what you would expect to see when you hear the word "rodeo," but Amato says it isn't meant to be taken literally. "I think 'rodeo' is the world you enter once you get the album," he explains. He says that when he first saw the concept for the cover it wasn't immediately clear. "But as it evolves and you see the packaging and the visuals within, it makes sense."
"Travi$ makes rodeo an emotion," he adds. "It's Texas, it's Houston, it's a vibe. When the album drops, you will definitely feel a rodeo."