“Who put this shit together? I’m the glue!” this lyric plays as a mission statement from Scott as ‘Astroworld’ is a return to form. Curating seems to be Travis’ strength above all else. As an artist who started out as a producer (yet has no producer credits on any of his own albums) then transitioned to rapper it only makes sense he was taken under Kanye West’s wing and it seems Scott has taken Ye’s ability to glue together polar opposites to new heights. Stevie Wonder playing a harmonica solo on a psychedelic trap song no longer is something only bedroom sampling producers would concoct, Travis manages to get Drake, Tame Impala, Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean and more all seamlessly on a sporadic psychedelic soundscape all seen through a trap lens.
Travis Scott’s previous two efforts “Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight” (a step down from the fabulous debut ‘Rodeo’) & collabo album “Huncho Jack” both lacked the spirit and creativity of his all encompassing debut. Now becoming a full tabloid figure with his relationship with mega celebrity Kylie Jenner listeners would expect Travis’ originality and rebellious energy to be completely subdued and prepare for a career of bland generic trap as fame is a full time job and art we would assume would take a back seat. Surprisingly ‘Astroworld’ is a resurgence of that’Rodeo’ energy and hunger. ‘STARGAZING’ has Scott back to rapping bars similar to his XXL Freshmen days, something fans haven’t gotten since the opener ‘pornography’ on his debut.
Less nihilistic than his previous efforts ‘Astroworld’ has heart but still lacks focus in the content department. “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” hints of introspection but never delivers a clear thought, “SKELETONS” sonically is set for depth but only has glimpses of meaning. “WAKE UP” seems to be a ‘Shiloh-esque’ instrumental (the mysterious Vine star who’s 6 second guitar work and unfinished musical sketches brought him fame), akin to rapper XXXTENTACION’s fully fleshed take on this sound on his debut “17” (which actually sampled Shiloh). Travis continues his mind boggling beat switches more than ever on this LP, changing what many on twitter thought was the better beat on “SICKO MODE” twice- and both worse than the last- only to have a Drake feature on the weakest of the 3 beats. Schizophrenic beat switches like this are a page right out of Madlib’s book, once a ‘weird’ move only used in the underground/alternative scene. Travis shows his broad musical palette on the production with Beastie Boys samples, Bigge’s “Give Me The Loot” stabs and a complete Goodie Mobb remake, a rare stroke of genius in a time where artists have zero concern for what came before them. “COFFEE BEAN” has Scott the most sharp and focused we’ve ever heard him and is a great end to an amazing LP that shows Scott will be around for a long time and will continue to push the genre of Trap to new territory.
Rating 8.1 / 10