Sasha Travis is a triple threat from Vermont by way of Russia. He is a naturally talented rapper, a prolific producer (as NOtation) and an accomplished musician. Travis is especially formidable on the trumpet, which makes several appearances on his latest EP, No Going Back. Drawing on his considerable experience, the multitalented artist's seven-song collection highlights a diverse skill set in perfect balance.
Travis has been making his mark on the local scene for so many years now, it's hard to believe he's only 23. He's worked with many of the 802's finest talents: Es-K, Asah Mack, David Chief, Chyse, Loupo — the list goes on. In No Going Back, the collaborations are mostly limited to coproductions, including two with EDM/hip-hop powerhouse FlyWlkr. This is all Travis' show, and it's a deeply personal project.
As you might guess from the title, the unifying theme is his dedication to music — and all the costs that come with it. Which is not to imply that the EP is a heavy slog. Rather, the project is a celebration of both the bright spots and the hard times.
On album opener "Why," Travis vents his frustration with the "fake love" that permeates the music industry. Yet it's also about how he stays grounded: He relies on his faith in his own talents, his love for the art and, especially, the support of his family. "Just bought my mom a bouquet," he raps, "cuz I ain't gonna wait for doomsday."
Since his teen years, Travis has been a showstopping talent on the mic, but he's never been preoccupied with proving it. Take "Too Late," where he reminisces on "all the times I had to sleep on the couch," or the biting anthem "FTC.," which stands for "Fuck the Clout." He's effortlessly in the pocket on both, switching up flows and styles to huge effect, but always in service of the song.
On the catchy banger "Vivid Dreams," Travis swaps bars with Prettyboy Kelsey. Their chemistry is fantastic, and it comes naturally. Kelsey is a rapper from Massachusetts — surprising, considering he sounds like 2 Chainz. But the two artists met years ago as students at Full Sail University, the noted music production school in Florida. Indeed, "Vivid Dreams" sounds like two old friends having a blast
Closing act "Far Away" is perhaps the strongest cut of this short, potent set. The lush song showcases Travis' vision as a producer, with each movement conveying real feeling. Bonus: a killer trumpet solo.
For all the radio-ready polish on this project, Travis has evolved into a unique artist. And it's not just about the horn chops and production savvy. He plays with hip-hop idioms like an outsider, but he's smart enough to make it all his own. Every track sounds like a million bucks. Accessibly commercial and delightfully idiosyncratic, No Going Back is Travis' best work to date.
No Going Back is available at soundcloud.com/sashatravis and on Spotify.