Travis Scott is rap/hip-hop artist based in Houston, Texas. He debuted in 2013 with his self-released mixtape, Owl Pharaoh, and followed up just a year later with Days Before Rodeo. Each of these performed fairly well, and landed him a major record deal with Epic Records, on which he released his first major label LP, and biggest hit to date, Rodeo.
This debut was extremely successful, riding what was then a fairly fresh wave of R&B flavored trap music to a platinum certification and a slot on several “best albums of the year,” lists. His ability to meld catchy hooks with hard hitting bars set him apart from the a sea of repetitive rappers of the day, and his connections with people like Kanye West, Juicy J, and Metro Boomin among others allowed him to drop a feature heavy debut and insert himself into the work of these artists as well.
From here, he dropped another platinum record in 2016’s Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight and a relatively successful collaborative project with Quavo in 2017 entitled Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho. The success and critical acclaim which Travis gained over his short career led him to headline this year’s Lollapalooza, and on the night of his performance, he dropped ASTROWORLD.
The record itself is, honestly, is a bit underwhelming. There are plenty of interesting ideas at play here, but most of them quickly devolve into boring renditions of the same song. Take a track like “WAKE UP,” for example, which opens with an interesting acoustic guitar hook that’s quickly joined by predictable trap drums and sexually explicit lyricism. Another example of this comes on “NC-17,” which features an eerie, high-pitched hook which raises listeners hopes in the front of the mix for the first few bars, but is quickly buried by a textbook trap beat, and only slightly redeemed by a shockingly listenable 21 Savage feature.
On the subject of features, this may be the one front which provides a bit of flare. Drake’s verse adds quite a bit early on to “SICKO MODE,” The Weeknd is a solid addition to “SKELETONS,” and “WAKE UP,” and Frank Ocean is, as one would expect, excellent on “CAROUSEL.” Juice Wrld and Shek Wes are also quite impressive on “No Bystanders,” which is likely the best track on the album.
The early half of the record, as a whole, can get one’s hopes up as “STARGAZING,” serves as a fun intro, and the dreaminess of “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD,” will leave an earworm in listeners minds for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last for too long.
The bulk of this project is a bit of a slog, not only due to the rather unjustified 60 minute runtime, but because so many of these songs are so similar. The final handful of tracks genuinely bleed into one another with such a lack of uniqueness that I would have difficulty pointing out one or a few worst offenders by name. Suffice it to say, that the record is extremely bloated, which is certainly its fatal flaw.
ASTROWORLD may serve some, less picky listeners well, particularly if one is searching for a relatively enjoyable wallpaper for a late night drive, but if this record is gifted one’s full attention, it will likely leave listeners bored and checking their watch. There are virtually no egregious missteps, but even fewer high points.
HEAR ASTROWORLD: https://open.spotify.com/album/41GuZcammIkupMPKH2OJ6I