Astroworld has arrived. Years of peaking into the construction site of Travis Scott’s third studio album has finally resulted in the invitation to this expansive, kaleidoscopic world that calls back to Travis’ hometown of Houston, TX.
Since Rodeo, one of my favorite records ever made, Travis has kept fans on their toes about every release. Stating that “he likes surprises”, the build up to Astroworld is the most memorable since Kanye’s The Life of Pablo. Fan speculation, rumours, leaks, and more orbited around the elusive record, Travis’ first since 2016’s Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight.
I stated in my review for Travis Scott and Quavo’s collaborative effort, Huncho Jack, Jacko Huncho, that the mixtape was the appetizer for the two artist’s next releases. Although Quavo’s was Culture 2, a record, while mostly underrated, we would rather leave in the past, Travis has returned with his next project.
The “STARGAZING” snippet gave us everything we needed to know: deeply rooted in psychedelia, reverb and trap drums, Travis used the autotune tool like it was delivered to him from a spacecraft. However, as he always does, Travis couldn’t leave the song as it was once it dropped. The song features an amazing second half, changing the songs pace to ultimate rage levels, showcasing one Travis’ most fiery verses on the record and sets a rollercoaster like energy for the rest of album.
“CAROUSEL” presents a legendary pair consisting of Travis and none other than icon Frank Ocean, whose verse steals the song. “SICKO MODE” is another example of Travis collaborating with an artist I could’ve never guessed would end up on here, and that’s Drake. However, what they made is a bonafide hit and what I think will be the most popular track on Astroworld and one Travis’ most catchy songs to date.
The album then switches to a more reflective side of Travis, with tracks “RIP SCREW” and “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” which I feel is like the “Dis Side” to the first part of the albums “Oh My”. More calm and composed, Travis brings in true artists like Stevie Wonder, James Blake, and push the beauty of these songs through the stratosphere. I think “RIP SCREW” is an amazing homage to legend DJ Screw, and that “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” is one of Travis’ most important songs relating to the many huge egos he’s seen in the industry.
The record then picks up energy with the rager “NO BYSTANDERS” with certified star Juice Wrld and the next best thing out of New York, Sheck Wes, supplying high voltage adlibs.
The next 2 songs, “SKELETONS” and “WAKE UP” both feature The Weeknd, and have psychedelic fingerprints all over them, with influence coming from Kevin Parker of Tame Impala fame.
Bangers “5% TINT” and “NC-17”, the latter featuring 21 Savage, are cold-blooded slaps that feel like upgraded versions of the darker tracks on Birds and calls back to highlight “Nightcrawler” on Rodeo.
Next is my favorite string of songs, “ASTROTHUNDER”, “YOSEMITE” AND “CAN’T SAY”. Each having distinct sounds, with one being a colorful yet calm reflection of Travis’ psyche, one being Travis’ take on Gunna’s unique Atlanta sound with extremely catchy verses, and the last being one of Travis’ best tracks period. “CAN’T SAY” sounds like a smash hit, with budding Houston, TX Cactus Jack signee Don Toliver providing one of the best verses on the record period.
Reaching the climax of the record with the Migos featuring “WHO? WHAT!” and the platinum selling single “BUTTERFLY EFFECT”, it acts as the perfect tip of the rollercoaster. However, it slows down on the beautiful yet emotion-filled “HOUSTONFORNICATION”, which has some of the most effortlessly amazing bars Travis has delivered yet, with lines like “Space coup back out of the space station” forever ingrained in our minds.
“COFFEE BEAN”, while a great ending that features Travis rapping more traditionally over a boom-bap beat, doesn’t end off the album with as high of a note as it started with the intro and doesn’t touch Travis’ past outros like “Apple Pie”.
Overall, Astroworld, while not a perfect album, it’s damn near one, and definitely a record we’ll be talking about for years due to the sheer scope and detail Travis has put into it.