ASTROWORLD. The most anticipated album of 2018. TRAVIS SCOTT. Leader of the New School. Music Visionary. Autotune Man (if you ask the Barbz). For many, it might feel as though Travis Scott’s ascendence came out of nowhere. His last two projects were both well received. Rodeo was praised for its original sound and direction, Travis would then go on to develop and own on Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, and then perfect and boast on ASTROWORLD.
Rodeo for me is a modern day classic! but Astroworld is definitely Travis Scott’s best work to date. The album comes two years after Birds In The Trap, which in this day and age is a long time, and it is clear listening to this project Travis went back to the lab and perfected his sound, his style, his direction and decided to FLEX on us for an hour as he opens the theme park gates (or...his mouth... pause) and take us on a tour through Astroworld.
Photography by. Jamie Drew // jdshotyou
Stargazing is perfect. The opening 4 bars create a wondering atmosphere of a new world, then outta nowhere we’re slapped in the face by thumping 808’s that remind you This Is LA FLAME’s world. He lets us know he’s intoxicated, sippin’ on purp and going crazy, before he takes it up a few octaves and sings an almost inaudible autotune a falsetto sounding pretty much like an instrument himself. 2 minutes in, the beat breaks down and unwinds and for anyone else that would signal the songs end. Nah. The vibe suddenly switches completely and at the 2:45 mark we’re greeted by low 808’s, rolling kick drums and a running synth resembling a ringing alarm. SHIT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN!
“This Right Here Is Astronomical”
A line that sticks out for me. Very fitting. Astroworld is literally out of this world. (Literally? 🤔) You probably saw me on HardFood Podcast losing my shit claiming “nobody else is making music like this!” and it’s TRUE! Travis is very aware of the performance element of his music, probably more aware than any other artist at the moment and Astroworld exploits that fully. The second track Carousel uses a chanting sample from Not A Stain On Me throughout the song which is surely going to be echoed at his crowded shows. All the songs are structured perfectly for live performances; sample flips (DON’T STOP, POP THAT PUSSY!), multiple beat switches, long captivating intros with interesting and unique sounds all designed for massive beat drops! Pulsing high energy beats all within a bouncy tempo, the whole album is almost designed as if it’s supposed to run like a concert set list. Travis can pretty much press play on his album, go out and kill it..
Sicko mode is the most popular song on the album, it’s the Drake feature. But Travis lets it be known 5 seconds into Drake’s verse that this is HIS world! (The song also features go-to hook guy Swae Lee, but here he’s needed for no more than 3 words.) The beat flips into a crunching groove as Travis proceeds to boast about his girl on the cover of Forbes magazine, rapping with all his jewellery on in the booth, and being treated like the legendary Uncle Luke when he’s out in Miami, two verses worthy of interrupting a high profile Drake feature. Astroworld should definitely quell some of the “Travis ain’t lyrical” arguments.
I ask again; Who else is making music like this right now? No feature is over or under used. Major artists appear, often stage left or right, to be used as instruments to help create the sonic vision that is Astroworld. On other albums feature artists often appear to take centre stage and often times that particular song production/direction changes to suit the feature. Stop Trying To Be God features STEVIE WONDER! (Sir) JAMES BLAKE! KID CUDI! And it works perfectly! Because it’s Travis’ world. His vision takes centre stage throughout the album and no one artist is bigger than that vision. Not even Travis Scott himself.
Swae Lee has three words on Sicko Mode but then has a healthy chorus on the next song RIP Screw. The Weeknd lends a few atmospheric lines on Skeletons as Pharrell croons in the distance over Kevin Parker harmonies, only to appear on the next track Wake Up sounding as clear and crisp as I’ve ever heard him! This kind of feature artist use is reminicent of the great Kanye West.
Travis Scott is what Kanye West once was (HOT TAKE!) Kanye was once the master of utilising feature artists and samples and creating his own sound, style, and universe. However, in recent projects it feels as though he is now chasing the sound. On ye you get the feeling that feature artists PARTYNEXDOOR, Ty Dolla $ign, Kid Cudi and 070Shake are doing Kanye a favour in saving his album. This wasn’t even the case when Post Malone leant his vocals to Fade on TLOP, nevermind Rick Ross setting the tone with 4 bars on MBDTF’s Monster.
I’m not sure wether Kanye has passed that baton willingly or reluctantly, but imo Travis Scott holds that position now. Rightfully so too. I repeat, NOBODY else is making music like this right now. And by that I mean, it feels like nobody else is putting this much effort into giving the listener something different and creating a unique listening experience. And if they are please feel free to DM me a link because this is what music lovers want and should demand from their artist!
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