Travis Scott’s Astroworld makes a deep comeback from his debut Rodeo through a distinct visionary sense and his entrance into mainstream rap.
The Houston, Texas native often names Kanye West as his long-time mentor, and has named his album after the Six Flags park that once stood in his hometown. Astroworld also introduces a long register of star-studded songs, including works that feature The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Drake and Stevie Wonder, among lots of others.
Here’s what I’m guessing Astroworld is supposed to sound like: a hot, long, uninterrupted summer at Six Flags. It manifests the bittersweet chaos of summer—kids running amuck, sweaty t-shirts, and music that’s so loud it hurts, but in a good way. We’ve entered an unruly funhouse, where the heat meets paradise and where summer is a giant rollercoaster—literally.
If rap listeners were waiting for Scott’s usual elevated, infectious tunes, this is the album that delivers. Not only that, but his masterpieces are often diverted halfway through his songs. In SICKO MODE, we get more than one clear distinction between the three intros. It’s light and then frantic, and we lose our breath trying to keep up.
What’s most intriguing about Scott’s executions in Astroworld is his ability to spit bars about the world some are so hankering for. If his lifestyle were a table spread, it would be delicious because most people secretly want a bite of it. And by “it” I mean booze, luxury, and a great myriad of morally loose women. These are tied up together, without any of his songs having any literal plot of substance. Perhaps this wasn’t the vision, but it certainly takes away from any personality we hoped to see through his work.
It’s not a secret that the album was highly anticipated, but once it arrived it was clear what sound we were missing from Scott’s previous albums. There’s a dynamic voice and rhythm that is synthesised through instruments and sounds that Scott isn’t so keen on usually producing. In Stargazing, we’re hit with some kind of psychedelic, sinister vibes that are paired with his far-sounding voice.
Although deeply influenced by the up and coming rappers around him, Scott proves that his sound is reliant on the many artists who have joined him in Astroworld’s success. The album is a far cry away from Rodeo, where most of his music focused on a persona that didn’t really feel like his own. On Astroworld, he strays away from this but only through his lyrics. That’s probably because we get the sense that Scott has made the music, but perhaps the music is having trouble defining the man behind it.