On his third studio album; Travis Scott gives us all a ticket to his star-studded, glamorous show of rollercoasters, women and superstardom. Welcome to ASTROWORLD, the place that never sleeps.
Travis Scott has soared to prominence over the past few years, never really showing signs of slowing down since the release of his 2015 debut album Rodeo; a project I consider to be a true classic of it’s style. He has had multi-platinum selling hits, a number one album and a kid with Kylie Jenner since then; all of which has done his stock the world of favours.
I don’t think people realised quite how big of a deal Travis Scott really is until this album was announced. The world stood to attention and took notice. It has been so eagerly anticipated that it became a meme for a long time that he may not ever bring it out. But here it is, ASTROWORLD is upon us and it was time for Travis to really show what he could do.
Straight off the bat, this album had an absolutely gigantic budget, that much is clear from the production line and the crazy feature list. Travis kept the features secret on the tracklisting which added an excitement factor when you heard some of the huge names stamp their mark on their respective songs. Varying from Drake to Tame Impala, Stevie Wonder to Frank Ocean, and even James Blake to JUICEWRLD; there is no doubt that ASTROWORLD delivers in other areas beyond Travis Scott.
Frank Ocean’s hook on CAROUSEL is infectious and something utterly unique, Drake brings his A-game to SICKO MODE and James Blake is wonderful on STOP TRYING TO BE GOD. Travis more than holds his own with these big names and announces himself as a bonafide superstar in some of the true highlights of the project.
Travis himself offers up some incredible vocal delivery on this album. Whether they be the great hooks on R.I.P. SCREW and 5% TINT, or the cold bars and flow he serves on SICKO MODE and HOUSTONFORNICATION, Trav shows how great of an all-round rapper he truly can be when he gets the formula right. I would say that some of his raps on this album can go toe-to-toe with some from Rodeo, something that is a compliment of the highest order.
The best song on the album has to be NO BYSTANDERS with JUICEWRLD, it contains a hyped up hook where Trav insists on us to “Fuck the club up”, a surprisingly gorgeous vocal melody from Lucid Dreams star JUICEWRLD and some of the best rapping deliveries of Travis Scott’s career. We also get BUTTERFLY EFFECT, his 2017 platinum selling single and it still sounds as huge as ever, although it’s inclusion feels a bit like stat padding. Also, why wasn’t WATCH with Kanye and Uzi on here? The sound would fit like a glove in the context of this album.
Instrumentally this album was always going to be super amped up and progressive. The beat switch ups on STARGAZING and SICKO MODE are immense, the Tame Impala/Pharrell Williams combination on the beat for SKELETONS is staggeringly good, and as for ASTROTHUNDER, well the production credits on there are a fever dream. John Mayer, Thundercat, BadBadNotGood and more work on that song and it is telling, the beat is wild and very futuristic.
Now I must acknowledge that this album is far from perfect; there are moments that appear to lack inspiration or direction at times and I do believe that it might be a bit too long at 17 songs and 58 minutes. I also need to mention NAV’s outro on YOSEMITE, which sounds like he recorded it through a megaphone in the car park outside the studio. To be fair, what did I expect from a man who’s career highlight is a hook on another person’s song?
Travis is also outshone by quite a few of the features, it has to be said. Despite the brilliance of his treatment of Drake on SICKO MODE, cutting him off after two lines to ensure that we all knew who was really in charge on this song, before bringing him back at the end, there are occasions where the highlights of songs are the guests. James Blake and The Weeknd come to mind for this case, as does Frank Ocean.
All in all, this album was Travis Scott’s stage and moment to announce himself as one of the best in the world. Despite not knocking it completely out the park, La Flame showed why he is so idolised by many. His visions of how he wants his music to sound and appear is fascinating, with ASTROWORLD showing obvious signs of artistic progression from his last album. It isn’t Rodeo, but there aren’t many rap albums this side of the decade that are as good as Rodeo so I think he can be forgiven for that one.
Basically, Travis has his flaws, but he knows what he is great at; and as far as I see it he is one of the most intriguing artists around today; making progressive turn-up music and repping his city of Houston with authority. This album has some of the best songs of his career, but also has one or two snoozy moments, it has done absolutely nothing to harm his progress, however. ASTROWORLD was a fun ride and I would definitely buy another ticket.