Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’ is the record he was always capable of
Source: Brigid Edmunds-LawrencePat and Toni talk about new music from Travis Scott, YG and older stuff from The Bronx.
Since he released his debut full-length record “Rodeo” in 2015, I’ve had a bit of a weird fascination with Travis Scott.
Back then, when he still stylized his name as Travi$ Scott, the emcee seemed like a really exciting anomaly. Scott was a well-known acolyte of Kanye’s, and that influence was obvious, but Scott’s woozy, drugged out sound was a breath of fresh air, one that couldn’t be replicated.
That was before “SoundCloud rap” really codified into its own unique thing, seemingly centered around replicating Scott’s sound. Scott seemed pressured to release a follow-up, given the runaway success of “Rodeo.” But 2016’s follow-up was “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight,” which just frankly wasn’t good, as Scott seemed to have forgotten that he needs his songs to actually be compelling, not just laid back.
Still, though, I felt like he could make something really good, better than “Rodeo.” His 2017 collaboration with Quavo called “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho” certainly wasn’t it, though, as the Migos emcee takes the lead in making a super generic trap record.
Finally, in 2018, Scott released “Astroworld,” and it feels like the record that I always knew Scott could make.
Scott strikes a better balance between mood and quality songs than he has on past records. Part of this is owed to the interesting song structures he continuously uses throughout.
Early album cut “Sicko World” is a prime example, as Scott seems to cram three songs into the song’s five minute run-time.
Beginning with a very, for lack of a more technical term, “Drake” verse from Drake, the track rapidly shifts into a very hazy club banger, complete with ghostly samples of Biggie Smalls and Uncle Luke shouting in the background.
Then, the song takes a final shift into more traditional but still dark trap sound, bringing Drake back in and allowing the two emcees to trade bars back and forth. “Sicko World” stands out as a highlight to me, with the sheer amount of ideas it packs into its five minute runtime.
“Stop Trying to Be God” is another amazing track, but this one isn’t packed with different mini-songs. Instead, this one has baffling amount of features.
Phillip Bailey, Kid Cudi, James Blake and Stevie Wonder all lend a hand to this smooth R&B slow jam that just turned out beautifully. However, I have to say it’s a bit absurd that artists are now employing Kid Cudi to just hum on their tracks now, even though the end result still sounds great.
The rest of the album is a veritable who’s who, featuring vocals from Swae Lee, The Weeknd, 21 Savage, Nav (although you may have seen the memes about Nav being really far away from the mic on his verse, which shows there are definitely some weird production issues on the record) and many others.
The individual songs on this record are all really good, and they show that Travis Scott is capable of making the more complex music that I always thought it could.
However, if I have one criticism of the album, it’s that there’s no real cohesion to it. The songs feel as though they can be in any order and it wouldn’t matter — in fact, I accidentally listened to the record on shuffle this morning on my way to work, and it took me nearly 45 minutes to notice.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan
Artist: Travis Scott
Label: Grand Hustle, Epic, Cactus Jack
Best Tracks: ‘Sicko Mode,’ ‘Stop Trying to Be God’