Travis Scott – Astroworld - 2018 Hip Hop 2LP
Travis Scott – Astroworld
Epic – 19075888361, Cactus Jack – 19075888361, Grand Hustle – 19075888361
2 × Vinyl, LP, Album
16 Nov 2018
A3 Sicko Mode
B1 R.I.P Screw
B2 Stop Trying To Be God
B3 No Bystanders
C1 Wake Up
C2 5% Tint
D1 Can't Say
D2 Who? What!
D3 Butterfly Effect
D5 Coffee Bean
"his strongest release to date. The album takes its name from a since-shuttered amusement park in his hometown of Houston and often resembles a humid day spent at a carnival: sticky, sweet, bustling with activity, and packed with cheap thrills that still feel a tad overpriced. As far as trippy-sounding hip-hop goes, Scott is operating at something of a gold standard here, out-hallucinating fellow stylist A$AP Rocky’s own recent blotter-blotted efforts. “Psychedelics got me goin’ crazy,” he lolls over the spooky and beautiful “Stargazing,” his voice sounding like a sentient iTunes visualizer as he nods to Houston legend Big Moe and shouts out Ellen DeGeneres. It's the epitome of the Travis Scott experience.
Featuring a coterie of guest stars representing pop’s upper echelon (Drake, the Weeknd, Frank Ocean), big-ticket indie’s creative brain trust (Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, James Blake), and newest-wave rappers (Gunna, Sheck Wes, Juice WRLD), Astroworld also boasts the most potent production of Scott’s musical life so far. “Astrothunder” ripples with contributions from Thundercat and John Mayer, the former dialing back his frenetic jazz-funk to a percolating crawl, while “Stop Trying to Be God” plays host to the record’s most involved vocal take from Scott, with wistful harmonica lines (courtesy of Stevie Wonder) and swirling keys surrounding his voice. The album is dotted with sonic intricacies throughout—fluttering guitar lines, showy samples (the deathless hook of Uncle Luke’s “I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown)” on “Sicko Mode”), enough gooey synths to fill a share-sized Milky Way—providing a Magic Eye-level of texture: It might all seem the same from afar, but blur your perspective just enough and the details reveal themselves.
The lovely “R.I.P. Screw” and the haunted-house dirge “5% Tint” were both handled by frequent Scott collaborator FKi 1st, who is also known for his work alongside pop’s unlikely megastar-of-the-moment, Post Malone. It’s tempting to draw parallels between Malone and Scott: Both are hotly contested figures in or adjacent to rap who possess massive young audiences and occasionally dabble in sounds associated with nascent early-2010s indie trends like witch house and chillwave.
But regardless of how you feel about him, Malone is an unmistakable presence on his songs, his otherworldly croon an essential element to his genre-hopping sound. Despite the considerable leaps in quality taken on Astroworld, it still doesn’t feel like Scott can muster that level of individuality. The fact that Drake’s verse on “Sicko Mode” (leagues better than most of his own turgid recent album Scorpion) has proved the most meme-able and headline-grabbing (Astroworld) moment, speaks volumes about Drake’s too-big-to-fail pop dominance and Scott’s ability to get overshadowed on even his strongest tracks.
Elsewhere, the blurred line between drawing from influence and straight-up facsimile continues to nip at Scott’s heels, as he borrows from Kanye’s worst lyrical impulses throughout, at one point positing over the toy-piano kaleidoscope-pop of “Skeletons”: “If you take your girl out, do you expect sex?/If she take her titties out, do you expect checks?” Kanye’s influence carries through to the very end of Astroworld with closing track “Coffee Bean,” a rumination with dusty production courtesy of Nineteen85 that strongly mirrors the sound and flow of The Life of Pablo’s similarly downbeat, soul-searching “30 Hours.” (Placing this uncharacteristically personal track at the album’s very end also yet again elicits visions of Drake, who’s often saved the most diaristic moments for his projects’ final moments.)" ( pitchfork)