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Album Review: Travis Scott-Astroworld

August 11, 2018

After nearly two years, Travis Scott has re-opened the gates to Astroworld.

Releases of two singles almost a year apart created intrigue and brought up questions in regards to when La Flame would be re-opening the gates to the Houston relic that still cherishes to this day on his third studio album, Astroworld. Speculators either assumed that it would either turn out to be a collection of rides that would not get a four year-old’s adrenaline pumping or a roller coaster that plummets at the speed of light. While Travis didn’t manage to sway completely to either extreme, he did manage to make the Astroworld experience worthwhile and memorable.

On Travis’ third solo studio album, he provides an ample 17 tracks that run a shade under an hour. In the near-hour long journey, there are a wealth of producers and collaborators who bring flavor and diversity to the project. Familiar faces such as Mike Dean and artists such as The Weeknd and Migos pop up shoulder-to-shoulder newer talents or unexpected appearances including rising star Juice Wrld, singer-songwriter John Mayer, and even R&B legend Stevie Wonder makes a stellar harmonica appearance in the track “Stop Trying to Be God.”

This wide range of influence makes Astroworld one of the most creative rap records released so far this year. It also puts it miles ahead of his sophomore record Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, which was cobbled together in just over a year and fails to create distinct songs with different aesthetics. A majority of the songs on this new album, however, sound very well thought out in terms of production and make use of sounds which have yet to be heard on a Travis Scott record.

Another musical element that makes Astroworld such an exciting listen is all of the beat switch ups peppered throughout many songs. “Stargazing” somewhat underwhelmed me for the first leg of the track before the sound cuts off completely before transitioning into some eerie and psychedelic synths that swirl furiously over trap percussion. The best multi-faceted moment on the album comes two tracks after that, with Travis and Drake trade bars on the tripped out “Sicko Mode,” which starts out with these blaring synthesizers and a faux-verse from Drake before flipping into a trunk-knocking, Houston-style banger. Scott comes right out the gate with an insane flow and a manic energy that was lacking from his last solo effort.

What most fans crave with each new release are the catchy and hard hitting points which Scott delivers in spades with songs such as “No Bystanders” and “NC-17.” The first of the two has an energy that soars into the stratosphere and contains high quality performances from Cactus Jack Records signee Sheck Wes and chart-climber Juice Wrld. “NC-17” might just be my favorite song included on Astroworld because of its great instrumental featuring some wintery chimes with a head-bobbing beat hanging in the background with brief inclusion of some awesome classical piano spots beneath Travis and 21 Savage’s cold-blooded and hilariously explicit verses with an intoxicating flow.

Since the title of the album alludes to a Houston attraction, it seemed fitting that Scott would include a couple hero worship tracks celebrating people that influenced the hip hop culture within his hometown. On the fourth cut “Rip Screw,” homage is paid to DJ Screw and his Screwed Up Click and “5% Tint” takes its namesake from a now-famous Slim Thug line.

Astroworld lives up to its amusement park-themed title: exhilarating and chock full of attention-grabbing attractions and it is a great addition to the discography of a budding superstar and a redemption from the messy and unfocused that was Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.

Rating: 8/10

 

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