So what have y’all anticipated more the actual drop for ‘Astroworld’ or for me to actually drop the review? Don’t answer that I know its probably both! The wait is over. Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’ has been one of 2018’s most anticipated drops. Its been two and a half weeks since its long waited arrival and I needed the full two and a half weeks to dive into Travis’s latest piece, which was named after the now-closed theme park in Texas that Travis used to go to as a kid. ‘Astroworld’ consists of seventeen tracks and a stacked supporting cast that resembles a particular NBA team (My hoop fanatics know the team I’m referring too). Such key players include the likes of Drake, Sheck Wes, Juice Wrld, Quavo, James Blake, Stevie Wonder, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Pharrell, Nav, Gunna, Swae Lee, and many more. Production is handled by Travis and some of the games finest including Mike Dean, Frank Dukes, WondaGurl, FKi 1st, Sonny Digital, and a few others. Before we dive in I wanted to leave a direct quote from Travis when comparing ‘Astroworld’ to ‘Rodeo’.
“It’s a different story. I’ve been through so much different shit. I’ve seen so much different stuff now, its just a different story I have to tell. It’s kinda like a more personal album. I just want people to get to know me and really get to know the rage inside. Really know what’s going on with my mental and what I be thinking. How I feel about all types of shit…”
Lets get to this review now.
Tracklist and Song Ratings
- STARGAZING (5/5)
- CAROUSEL (5/5)
- SICKO MODE (5/5)
- R.I.P. SCREW (5/5)
- STOP TRYING TO BE GOD (5/5)
- NO BYSTANDERS (5/5)
- SKELETONS (4.7/5)
- WAKE UP (5/5)
- 5% TINT (4.4/5)
- NC-17 (4/5)
- ASTROTHUNDER (4.3/5)
- YOSEMITE (4.5/5)
- CAN’T SAY (4/5)
- WHO? WHAT! (4.2/5)
- BUTTERFLY EFFECT (5/5)
- HOUSTONFORNICATION (4.5/5)
- COFFEE BEAN (5/5)
Favorite Tracks: STARGAZING, CAROUSEL, SICKO MODE, STOP TRYING TO BE GOD, NO BYSTANDERS, YOSEMITE AND COFFEE BEAN
Man this album is special so I’ll choose my words wisely as I carefully review this project…. ‘Astroworld’ is F*cking AMAZING. Travis Scott creates his most complete and cohesive album to date. Since I want to discuss how great this project is I’ll tackle its flaws. There are no flaws. Okay, I’ll be honest. There were a FEW lazy bars on a couple tracks but it’s only noticed if you spend time to look for this project’s flaws. These “lazy bars” that I’m speaking on BRIEFLY does not inflict any damage on the whole ‘Astroworld’ experience. This album is FULL of infectious flows and atmospheric beats. Personally, i needed this project! Well based off the albums feedback and ‘Astroworld’ going #1 on Billboard back to back weeks (Sorry not sorry Nicki), I think Hip Hop and fans of dope music needed this project. Travis was driving me nuts with all the stalling/push backs/and other reasons for him to not put this project out. An album of this caliber cannot be rushed so forgive me for my impatience Travis. ‘Astroworld’ sounds amazing but most importantly, it’s super organic. Whether it’s your first listen or tenth. It’s like it gets better each time.
Travis and his supporting cast showed out like the 96′ Chicago Bulls (the hell with the GSW). The album starts off in the most magnificent way possible with “Stargazing.” The two for one intro that is “Stargazing” has two separate musical vibes. Part one has a very psychedelic feel and then there is this urgent and sharp beat switch that just transitions impeccably. On “Carousel” we get a surprise Frank Ocean appearance! On the tracklist for this project the features are left out and meant to be discovered upon listening, which feels purposely done by an artist who is aware of how limited his audience’s attention span can be. “Carousel” has Frank Ocean rich sound floating over an amazing beat as he sings, “Blue bands, blue bands/Get my cash from drive-thru/Boy you’re too flash, too flash/Keep the flash minimal/Bitch I’m too cold, too cold/See my breath visible.”
TRAVIS AND A FEW GOOD MEN CREATE AN EARGASM OF A LIFE TIME WITH “SICKO MODE.” On “Sicko Mode”, Scott teases Drake vocals before switching gears. “Sicko Mode” has not ONE BUT TWO BEAT SWITCH UPS. On part two of this track we get two dope verses from Travis and a special appearance by that boy Swae Lee! At this point you’re already pretty engaged and loving what you hear but it’s like the song is missing something and Travis literally doesn’t neglect the feeling that listeners would feel after the first two segments. The beat switches up again to a Tay Keith production with none other than Drake reappearing to just put the icying on the cake to an amazing three for one record that leaves you in awe tempted to replay the track. Going back to Drake we hear a clear shot at Adidas as he raps, “checks over stripes.” I hear you Drizzy! Get your ish off boy. Travis pays homage to DJ Screw on “R.I.P Screw” which also features Swae Lee lending his vocals once again.
It’s crazy that after just 5 songs in on ‘Astroworld’ everything just sounds so fluid. Okay maybe five songs is nothing but it gets better. As things seem to slow down and the production sounds extremely Houston on “R.I.P Screw” the slow tempo continues into the albums longest track “Stop Trying To Be God.” Some way, some how we get James Blake, Kid Cudi and Stevie Wonder all on one track. I could do a deep dive on this song alone and probably give you 1,000 words but maybe some other time. What I will do is thank everyone on this track for giving us an absolute gem of a track with a deep meaning behind it which essential is to “let GO and let GOD” possibly? (You decide) We get a surprise banger in the Vibrant “No Bystanders” which features the next big musical acts in Juice Wrld and Sheck Wes. From here things begin to drift a bit with “Skeletons” which features The Weeknd and Pharrell. The Weeknd remains involved as we are gifted with another collab between Travis and Abel on “Wake Up.” This track also involved many people on both writing and production and to hear so many different ideas in sound coexist makes this song a lot more special. The acoustic guitar’s played on this track is the real MVP here.
So now as we approach the half way mark I want to to say few things! Isn’t this album super fluid? Isn’t ‘Astroworld’ flawless? Travis takes us on a psychedelic journey that is truly one of a kind. The first half is extremely mesmerizing giving of this high extremely profound sense of feeling similar to a first time acid trip. So for basically the next half of the album I view it as the “come down.” I don’t refer to it as a come down because of the quality of music decreasing but there’s a change of pace throughout the next 8 tracks but it all still coexist as one sound, one vibe, a whole experience.
To begin this second half we have “5% Tint” which samples the piano sequence from Goodie Mob’s hip hop classic “Cell Therapy” by re-recording it for a darker, slightly more dignified and not so playful version. The song also features the samples hook: “Who’s that creeping through my window/Before you come outside I got the info/Took her to the end zone from The Ends.” “NC-17” features 21 Savage as he spits one of the most graphic bars on this whole album. It’s a line that only 21 would get away with. An interesting sampling job occurs on “Astrothunder” as he uses the guitar hook from “Sold Out Dates” by Gunn ft. Lil Baby and “Florida Logic”, from the instrumental post-rock band Cougar. This track feeds right into the Dark Horse for best track on ‘Astroworld’. YES I SAID IT. “Yosemite” is ‘Astroworld’s Dark Horse. A track that features a SUPER MELODIC hook by Gunna and a “questionably” feature from NAV, actually all blend in to create a hell of a vibe! Leave Nav alone y’all I love him on here. Especially since they went back and boosted his vocals on this track.
“Can’t Say” features Don Toliver an artist who I wasn’t familiar with. This was my least favorite track because I wasn’t feeling his contributions too much but song is still didn’t sound too bad at all. “WHO? WHAT!“ finds Travis teaming up with his Atlanta brethren in Takeoff and Quavo. This song definitely could have been on Huncho Jack. As we continue to “come down” we hear the lead single for ‘Astroworld’ in “Butterfly Effect” as it still sounds as sonically mesmerizing as it did when first released. “Houstonfornication” is an ode to Houston and the reckless activities Travis’s younger self would have engaged in. Personally, I thought in verse two Travis was addressing Tory Lanez as he rapped, “Yeah, nobody can press me but the press/Nobody can check me when it’s chess.” I could be wrong but I tend to be right when it comes to decoding bars meant to be shots at another artists.
As we come to ‘Astrworld’s final track, our acid trip comes to an end as we don’t experience a single bad trip and experienced a ride of a life time but have one last profound experience. On “Coffee Bean” we get a track completely different from every song on this album. Production wise we get an old school hip hop type beat laced with some blissful guitar strings. This track is where Travis gets super personal and opens up to us. “Coffee Bean” features important bars about Kylie and issues that faced such as the Kardashian Klan disliking him. Travis raps, “Your family told you I’m a bad move/Plus I’m already a black dude.” This sounds like Travis reflecting back at a time where Travis was not accepted by Kylie’s family. It seems to be that things are great now, in the public eye at least. This close out track is really important as we get a clear look at Travis natural self as he performs this song with little to almost no auto tune.
Travis Scott delivers a performance of a lifetime with ‘Astroworld’. ‘Astroworld’ presents itself as an experience that no album could give you this year or possibly last year, sonically speaking. Travis has always been good at collaborating with others as he able to cater to their strengths or at least help showcase it. This is why I have always viewed Travis as a Kanye West minus the f*ckery. He is a special talent who is an extraordinary producer as well as “rapper” making him a superior artist. Travis’s previous work has all been pretty superb but ‘Astroworld’ is different. Right now I feel compelled to call it his best album. That feeling may or may not change. Also, Its only right that I acknowledge Drake, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Juice Wrld, Kid Cudi, Jame Blake and Stevie Wonder for their phenomenal performances. I’ve been a Travis fan since the mixtape days and I used to tell everyone he was next and that he was ahead of his time. Here we are 4 years later as he delivers his third album and it feels like this isn’t even Travis Scott at his maximum potential. Call me crazy but the future is beyond bright for Travis.