Senior Copy Editor
After teasing its release two years ago, rap honcho Travis Scott has finally dropped his long awaited third solo studio album, “ASTROWORLD.” It had the second biggest sales debut of the year, coming in at 537,000 units sold during opening week. To put it shortly, this new album delivers. It highlights Travis Scott’s diverse musical range, from his signature mosh pit raging to more mellow and lyrically robust tracks.
Chock full of features from artists like Drake, Frank Ocean, and even Stevie Wonder, this star-studded cast complements Travis’s electricity throughout the entire project. More so, the track list does not list the features, so most songs are unpredictable in direction. This resembles a rollercoaster ride, surprising the listener with every twist, turn, and drop.
The album begins with “STARGAZING,” which serves as the entrance into the park, if you will. Since the hook has been teased plenty of times through promotional trailers, Snapchat snippets, and by his official tour DJ, Chase B, many fans identify this song as the face of the album.
However, the studio version offers a few variations. There are new spacey ad-lib interjections and a complete beat switch up to a darker, dizzying tone. This beat laid the groundwork for Travis to usher in a surprising reintroduction of his old school bars, something his last project lacked.
The third song, “SICKO MODE,” is a lot to digest, but offers the most jarring beat switch. It begins with a powerful whirring sound where Drake sings and raps the introduction. Then, Travis takes over for two verses, even including a legendary ad-lib from Biggie (“Gimme the loot!”). Afterwards, Drake spits an underwhelming verse on a Tay Keith beat switch up before the duo do a call and response, effortlessly transitioning to Travis’s denouement verse.
In all this mayhem, Swae Lee provides interspersed smooth vocals to decompress the unrelenting nature of the track. Throw in a Sheck Wes shout-out and a Devin Booker name-drop and it’s clear why this unique three-headed hip hop monster created a radio hit.
Another notable piece is “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD,” a slower track with a milder tempo but more powerful message. Any hip hop head can recognize the iconic ethereal humming from Kid Cudi (who got a feature without even saying a word) in the backdrop, which complements Philip Bailey’s soft pleading.
At first listen, it might sound like a diss to Kanye West, an artist with the ego of a higher being. Upon further dissection, however, Bailey is singing to Scott, urging the rapper to realize the power and influence he has on the masses.
The visuals for this track are obviously biblical and the stark imagery is both compelling and stunning. For example, he is seen leading a herd of sheep and baptizing young people for them to start dancing right after. It ends with a serenade from James Blake and a chilling harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder, who also got a feature without saying a word.
“COFFEE BEAN” is the last ride of the album. It is unusually slow, considering Travis’s past works and repertoire. It features a cello mashing with a classic boom bap beat to induce the listener into a trance-like state. Content wise, it is about his relationship with his girlfriend, Kylie Jenner, and their rough start. Now with their baby, Stormi, the closing song of the album might signal a tonal shift in Travis’s career as he adopts more responsibility.
Musical pundits have noted that the cadence and rhythm of the album as a whole resembles that of an amusement park experience. There are bangers that parallel the high-flying thrills and more relaxed, experimental songs that are comparable to lulls from a long day at the park. Though this may be true, this album marks a paradigm shift in his life. Travis is more self aware and introspective than ever before.
After the album was released, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo stated that they will renovate the old grounds that Six Flags AstroWorld inhabited. The spotlight that “ASTROWORLD,” the album, garnered birthed the “Rodeo,” which coincidentally is the name of his first studio album. Travis’s ingenuity and avant-garde approach to music has gone full circle and is reintroducing aspects of his life, both old and new.