In the two years since his last solo project, “Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight”, Travis Scott has endured some momentous, life-altering affairs. He started dating and had a baby with Kylie Jenner, dropped a collaboration album with Migos’ Quavo, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho, performed at the 2017 NBA all-star game, and even designed his personal Jordan sneaker. As a result of his publicity, Travis has ascended to A-lister status, and his most recent album, “Astroworld”, has reaffirmed his rising prestige.
In anticipation of his new album, Travis Scott traveled around the world, creating magnificent displays of balloon-versions of his head, an image that would be prominently featured on Astroworld’s cover art. These golden heads made appearances in Travis’s home town of Houston, as well as, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, and Paris, among others. From simply an aesthetic standpoint, Astroworld’s cover art is purely beautiful. The cobalt blue in the sky juxtaposed to the gold head and the red of the children’s’ shirts creates a strikingly beautiful image, very reminiscent of childhood trips to the amusement park. You can almost smell the slightly stale popcorn scattered around the ground. The abrasive rattling of passing roller coaster carts speeding overhead, with the rumbling of the cart ringing in your ears. Through this album, Travis Scott manages to bring his beloved but barred amusement park, Astroworld, back to life.
The opening track of the album, “Stargazing”, sets the tone for the entirety of the album. Its supernatural, psychedelic beat paired with a visually stunning music video and Travis’s perfectly tuned vocals, creates a flawless entrance into Travis’s auditory amusement park. Both the visual and auditory astral imagery offers a look in Travis’s complex mind, and desire to return his childhood icon, Astroworld, to greatness.
Despite the overarching, haunting, psychedelic vibes, Astroworld also features some pop culture pleasing, radio hits such as “Sicko Mode”, featuring one of the kings of the summer of 2018, Drake.
“Who put this shit together? I’m the glue”. No other lyrics in the entirety of Astroworld best encapsulates the pure essence of this album.
Featuring three unique beat changes, this song plays out much like a roller coaster, with the listeners gripping the lap bars in front of them as their hair whips through the air when the roller coaster plummets down as the beat drops. Swae Lee, of Rae Sremmurd, provides flawless bridges between the ranging intensities of the song. Drake’s vocals, performed perfectly, provided a rallying cry for listeners, weather you are rapping along in the car, while showering, or raging at a party.
Unlike Travis’s previous two solo projects, Astroworld is a concise, articulate narrative. The thematic, haunting, psychedelic beats and rhythms create a rich backdrop upon which Travis’s personality shines through in a way we had yet to see. In the closing title, “Coffee Bean”, Travis divulges intimacies about his chaotic relationship with his girlfriend, Kylie Jenner. In the song, “5% Tint”, we are treated to virtually a cinematic masterpiece, oozing with suspense and haunting echoes. With a hook of, “Who’s that creeping through my window? ‘Fore you come outside, I got the M4”, Travis conveys a sense of paranoia, the feeling that uninvited eyes gazing, a vibe that is emphasized through the smooth, repetition of the piano rift.
In a time when rap is dominated by mumble rap, uninspired lyrics, and flexing, Travis Scott’s Astroworld is a shining beacon of hope for the future of rap. Astroworld has expanded to become more than just an album, it is an auditory and visual journey that transports the audience through time and space, soars through the emotional complexity of Travis, and divulges the multifaceted dynamic of his relationship with his family. There is not a doubt in my mind this will be looked back as one of, if not the absolute, premier albums of 2018, and the musical composition that propelled Travis Scott into the upper echelon of rap.