Review: “Jackboys” is a win for Travis Scott’s record label


Travis Scott, founder of the Cactus Jack record label, performs in 2017.

Wesley Tedrow, Staff Writer

On December 27, Travis Scott and a group of other artists signed to his record label, Cactus Jack Records, released “JackBoys,” a compilation album following the release of “Astroworld” in 2018. “JackBoys” is Travis Scott’s second chart-topping album since “Astroworld” released in 2018, and is the first number one album of the 2020s. 

“Astroworld” was critically acclaimed, particularly for its songs “Stop Trying to be God” and “Coffee Bean” as well-produced. After “Astroworld” was released, Scott followed up with the single “Highest in the Room,” which gets a remix featuring Rosalita and Lil Baby on the new album. “JackBoys” aims to continue Scott’s streak of successful releases, and it makes the mark.

The album starts with a remix of Travis Scott’s October 2019 single, “Highest in the Room.” The original version of the song does not appear on the album, which is highly disappointing given that the new verses featuring Rosalita and Lil Baby drag down the production and make the song sound like it was just thrown together. The original song that featured Scott as the only vocalist was much stronger, with a stronger vocal performance that is not dragged down by other artists. 

The second track on “JackBoys” is a simple 47-second instrumental loop added to make the record’s first and third tracks flow together when listening on vinyl format. However, when listening on Spotify or another online service, the track serves no real purpose and can be skipped. This brings us to the third song, where the album starts picking up. “Gang Gang” features Sheck Wes, whose debut album “Mudboy” rocketed him into popularity (largely due to the single “Mo Bamba” that was released in June 2017 prior to the album). Sheck’s high-quality vocal performance meets great production quality on “Gang Gang,” making it a perfect addition to “JACKBOYS.”

“Had Enough” is the fourth track on the album, performed by Don Toliver with features from Quavo and Offset from the hip-hop trio Migos. The song is okay, but the best part of the album comes on the fifth track, “Out West.” The other songs on the “JackBoys” album are more mellow, slow-moving songs with laid back production and vocals. “Out West,” however, is the exact opposite, combining more mainstream rap production qualities with sharp vocals that perfectly contrast the rest of the album. The remaining two songs, “What to do” and “Gatti” unfortunately have muddy sounding production that makes otherwise good songs sound too washed out and bland to be enjoyable.

“JackBoys” brings out the best of the best in Cactus Jack Records’ lineup of artists, and is a great addition to Travis Scott’s discography. Despite some weak points, the album has astounding production quality and great lyrical depth, paired with stellar vocal performances that make it a must-listen. Some critics claim that the album is more of a merch bundle or branding opportunity for the Cactus Jack lineup than the “debut album” it claims to be, and while that may be true, the music is definitely worth a listen for its raw quality. 

Highlights: “Out West,” “Gang Gang,” “Had Enough”

Skips: “Gatti,” “What to do”

Rating: 8/10