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Bossman Reinvents Himself as Travis Davon, Pays Tribute to Jay-Z

April 9, 2012

Last year was probably the quietest year in Bossman’s career since before 2004, when he became one of the best-known rappers in Baltimore. He may have been laying low after a busy, tumultuous 2010, which included the release of his second album The Re-Up and a brief, pointless beef with Wale. In any event, he recently broke that silence by releasing a new mixtape under the name Travis Davon (his full name being Travis Davon Holifield). Watch The Throne Mixtape, hosted by prolific Charm City mixtape magnate Mr. Pay Attention, is not a total reboot or rejection of the rapper’s previous identity–he still refers to himself as “Bossman” on some tracks and “B.O.S.S.” is splashed across the cover of the tape. It’s not the first time he’s changed the name he raps under (he started out over a decade ago as Jimmy Hash), but he did change his Twitter handle, and the rebranding seems to be something of a back-to-basics move. At times he sounds frustrated, at one point rhyming “Maybe I should get a job and say ‘fuck rap,’” but as usual it’s impossible to think of him working out his thoughts in any other way than writing lyrics.

The mixtape is, of course, a nod to its namesake, the blockbuster joint album released by Jay-Z and Kanye West last summer. But the Watch The Throne Mixtape is decidedly more of a tribute to the former, featuring Travis Davon freestyles over songs from throughout Jay’s solo career and only a couple from the West collaboration. And since Jigga’s influence has always loomed large over Bossman’s music, it is a refreshing way for the Baltimore MC to reconnect with his roots and just rap his ass off on some beats he loves, the way he used to in his early days of making mixtapes with the group NEK. In one especially entertaining moment, Davon raps over the terrible “Haters” from The Blueprint 3 and finishes a hate-filled verse with “I don’t even know why I rapped to this wack-ass track, I hate that.” It’s a deliberately minor project, and Davon tries a little too hard to sell “swavor” as his new catchphrase, but it’s a largely enjoyable listen. Tracks like the relaxed, confident “Can I Live 2K12″ might not compete with the Jay originals but bring to mind Bossman in his prime more than some of the songs on The Re-Up that tried to be everything to everyone. And the sole original song that closes the mixtape, “Illuminati” produced by CLAWS, gives evidence that Travis Davon isn’t just playing around with rap for the hell of it.

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