Travis Karter is an artist destined to make an impact, he is ravenously hungry and not for the trappings and gold chains that usually hold hip hop down, but for something far purer.
From age 12 when he released his first track “Till The Day I Die” with the endorsement and following of Kymani Marley (one of the many Marley offspring) Karter has been making music that moves not just those that listen to it, but seismically shifts the entire world. He has distanced himself from the stacks and racks movement that cripples a lot of artists and instead dedicated his musical ambition and success to the charity he founded “Water Is The Answer”.
His charity is actively raising funds and building wells in lesser developed countries ensuring everyone has access to safe, clean water, alongside projects such as raising funds for the Maxfield Park Children’s Home providing water security to the orphans there. All the proceeds from his album sales and music career are funneled into this charity in a move that until now is completely unheard of. This philanthropic approach to his music allows Karter to shed some of the hubris of accolade and financial success as he isn’t doing it wholly for himself, he’s trying to help people with his art and so there is a different fire burning in him, a new kind of motivation that lends an impassioned honesty to his lyricism.
His latest release White Panther shows an evolution in technical skill and artistic growth. Travis Karter is not afraid to tackle complex issues and he wrestles with a whole roster of burly beasts on this release. In the second track of the album “COLD” we join Karter as he tries to come to grips with a particularly scrappy breakup, its blood raw honesty is something you won’t often hear in hip hop and this heart on sleeve analysis of such a nuanced topic gives it some poetic wings. On the album’s standout track “BLACK PANTHER” the artist explores the optimism he has for a brighter future in the industry, inspired by the blockbuster Marvel film of the same name, Karter is painting the picture of real black superheroes of which he can already count himself one. He finishes by asking the audience “what do you want to do with your life?” on the outro track and by setting such a shining example it’s easy to believe that the listener isn’t going to be limited in reaching for the sky.
Travis Karter is still a young man and there are tracks that are a little clumsier or less fully realized such as “FLASHIN” or “ROCKSTAR”. They still have the easy swaying trap style beat that is so easy to tune into and nod your head along to, but they feel juxtaposed with the artist’s vision and image. On ‘FLASHIN’ Karter is diving into the topic of race and police brutality, it doesn’t do enough lyrically though to shine a new light on the subject. They are in no way bad tracks and still have a lot to offer, but it’s in these areas we’re more excited to see Karter continue to improve in subsequent offerings.
An artist set up to break the mold, Karter is already making music that lives up to the lofty status of his mission statement, but once he bursts through even that glass ceiling and settles into the clouds of his artistic final form it’ll be a true thing of beauty. He flexes on this album showing a diverse set of flows, voice, and rhythm entirely his own. If he continues to follow in the footstep of others happy to step aside of the mainstream such as Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and Andersaan Paak and blend that level of musicianship into his already lyrically and vision focused journey, he is going to be something truly cosmic in stature.
Following in Yeezy’s footsteps too Travis Karter also has his own clothing line, however, as with the music all proceeds are donated to his charity rather than stuffed in his already loaded pocket (looking at you here Kanye). Gearing up to release season 3 of the clothing line you can check it out by clicking this link.
On the back of this album, you can also expect some new music videos to be released over the coming summer, check out Travis Karter’s youtube channel and stay tuned.