Astroworld is the long anticipated third studio album from Travis Scott, a Houston rapper and producer, who over the years, has proven to be an incredibly gifted artist, that with every project. attempts to push the boundaries of music.
He is a product of this new wave of melodic music infused with psychedelic and trap sounds that was introduced by artists like Kanye and Kid Cudi, who are clear inspirations for Travis. However on this album, Travis takes this sound and truly makes it his own creating a project that stands out as one of his best albums.
The album begins with the song “Stargazing”. This track is an excellent introduction to the album as the production from Sonny Digital, 30 Roc, Bjorne and BWheezy are able to create a sound that sets the mood for the entire album. Travis also delivers a strong vocal performance through the use of layered and pitched vocals, he is able to capture an ethereal atmosphere.
The addition of sounds from an amusement park subtly highlights the astroworld themes that are explored in the second half of the song. The inclusion of a beat switch adds a unique variety to the song that isn’t typically heard. The next beat again showcases stellar production through the use of punchy drums and rolling synths.
Travis also switches his flow and delivers a more hard hitting verse that captures the energetic wild nature of his shows. The line “it ain’ta mosh pit if ain’t no injuries” furthers the youthful and primitive energy that is synonymous with Travis Scott shows.
“Carousel” follows next and begins with an endorsement from a Dallas-based rapper, Big Tuck, who also provides the sample from his song “Not A stain On Me” that runs throughout the song.
The last time I heard a collaboration between Travis Scott and Frank Ocean was in 2017 on the extended version of the song “Lens”, and although the song seemed unfinished I was able to hear potential in these two artist producing a great track. So when I saw Frank was featured on this track I was excited and hoped it would deliver.
On listening to the track, it is clear that the two have great chemistry and are able to compliment each other’s unique sound. Travis begins with a melodic verse that explores the anxiety and paranoia that are elevated by drugs.
Frank then effortlessly delivers a smooth and calming vocals that servers as a contrast to the intensity of production. Frank however then juxtaposes this with an aggressive and vibrant verses that filled the track with life. On this song Frank Ocean is the stand out as he I able to float over the beat with a refined and well formed verse.
“Sicko Mode” is the next song on the album and it is an undeniable hit. As soon as I heard the hard hitting production from Roget Chahayed, Hit-Boy, OZ, Tay Keith and CuBeatz, I knew this song was going be the hardest track on the album.
Once Drake enters the song, he immediately demonstrates his superb ability to create a vibe by delivering a verse that just further reinforces how hard this track goes in. The production is spectacular, the beat switches give the song an unpredictable feel that is just intoxicatingly different.
Travis Scott delivers a punchy and vibrant verse. However it is when we enter the closing part of the song that Tay Keith infuses the track with dynamic trap drums. This layered with an energetic and focused verse from Drake elevates the track to new heights. This song is vibrant and youthfully energetic. Drake and Travis are able work well together and create one of the best songs on the album.
“Stop Trying To Be God” is the next stand out track on the album. On this track, Travis returns to the spacey sounds that he is known for. Here he shares the track with frequent collaborator and inspiration Kid Cudi as well as additional vocals from James Blake.
Cudi opens the track with his soothing and hypnotic humming that adds to the feel of the song. The repeated line from Phillip Bailey “Stop tryna be god” illustrates the struggle of artists to handle the pressure that comes with stardom and the idea of being a god like figure to their fans.
This idea is further presented on the bridge by James who eloquently fills the track with a melancholic yet insightful closer to the track. Even with the amazing featured artist there was one true stand out.
Stevie Wonder is able to steal the show with a wonderful harmonica addition that elevates the track by adding to the natural and stripped back feel of the track. Even though the the production on this song seems quite transparent compared to other songs of the album it is undoubtedly the most dazzling in it simplicity. This has to be one of the best songs on the album as it is just gorgeous.
“Wake Up” is another great track that starts with a stripped back guitar riff that coupled with trap drums creates and exciting sound that feels different to anything on the album. We are then gifted with a sensual addition from The Weeknd.
It seems that Travis and the weekend have great chemistry as both work well together to create a superbly crafted song that is able to give the project a unique feel. The production from Frank Dukes, Wallis Lane and Seven Thomas is ingenious and truly stands out.
I really feel as though this album is Travis’ most cohesive and well rounded projects. He has been able to master the sound that he pioneered and create a project that cements him as one of today’s top artists. On this project, he is able to take elements from his mentors such as Kanye and Kid Cudi, yet he is able to improve on them and make this sound his own. Overall I would say that Astroworld is a great project that delivers on all levels.
Travis Scott’s Astroworld is out now via Grand Hustle Records, Epic Records and Cactus Jack Records, purchase it on iTunes here and stream it on Spotify below.
Words by AJ Banjo