Travis Scott has been working on his amusement park for nearly two years, and it’s finally open for business. After a detour from the rodeo, Travis gave us Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, a serviceable album but one that feels like it’s missing something.
Astroworld was supposed to come right after his debut Rodeo, but it took almost 2 years for it to come to fruition. Birds was a departure from the sounds on his first three projects, adopting a more generic trap sound that’s been flooded in rap. Not a bad album but a letdown from the classic that his debut was.
It’s clear from the very beginning of Astroworld that we are in for a ride–an audio amusement park. The amount of mid-song production pendulum swings are the loops, spins and drops of a rollercoaster.
Stargazing serves as the first track and it offers a smooth melodic trap sound as it builds up tension. Halfway through the song, we get a chorus of sounds that are eerily reminiscent of a roller coaster creeping to its highest point right before it drops mixed in with crowd noises. The song goes silent before descending into the drop, and the second half of the song smacks us in the face with jarring sounds.
Got a thousand kids outside that’s tryna come alive
’99, took AstroWorld, it had to relocate
Told the dogs I’d bring it back, it was a seal of faith
A problem with recent Travis offerings is the lack of anything different and going for a generic sound. Right off the bat, we are hit with a message that his theme park is going to have us in for a ride.
Sicko Mode featuring Drake plays just as a spook house attraction. Drake over some haunting sounds serves as the precursor before actually delving into the house of horrors. He is cut off mid-verse and another production change up is delivered and is something to marvel at. Travis then spits about the craziness of his life over an ominous beat, to only then go back to Drake and Travis exchanging bars on a whole other beat.
The idea that this type of creativity can come out of a song with Drake (a.k.a. Mr. Play it Safe and try nothing different or unique) on it is amazing. The way that Travis as an executive producer was able to blend 3 different beats from Hit-Boy, OZ, Tay Keith and Cubeatz something to be in awe of.
Features from Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Swae Lee, James Blake, Migos, Juice Wrld, Sheck Wes, Pharrell, 21 Savage, Gunna, Nav, Don Toliver, Kid Cudi hums, Kevin Parker shredding and Stevie Wonder harmonica solo serve as sideshow attractions in Travis’ Astroworld Park. Despite Travis curating all these great artists, the main attraction of his park is still Travis himself.
Travis makes music that allows the listener to live vicariously through it. There is a sense of being apart of the rage that Travis’ life is. Skeletons details his Coachella fling with Kylie Jenner and offers very psychedelic sounds from Tame Impala with crooning from The Weeknd and Pharrell.
Wake Up also dives into Travis’ love life with some of the best singing he has ever done; auto-tune assisted nonetheless but still great, while also having great vocals from The Weeknd. It’s not long after a few songs about love that we get brought back to Houston influences on 5% Tint discussing the normal Travis subject matter of sex, drugs, cars and partying over melodic but deliberate production.
That same melodic sound is carried throughout the whole album, something that was missing on Birds but ever so apparent on Rodeo. The last song, Coffee Bean, offers up probably the most introspective song of Travis’s career.
Coffee Bean tackles the relationship between him and Kylie Jenner. Revealing his initial apprehension to hearing the news of her pregnancy, her family disapproving of Travis and the tumultuous nature of their relationship. Travis has gotten this far by exemplifying the Rager and creating an atmosphere of his crazy life but Coffee Bean offers us a new refreshing look on his life.
Chase B, Travis’ DJ, said on their .WAV radio show that time was taken on this album as opposed to Birds which finished quickly. To further hammer home the point of Astroworld being a return to form for Travis, this album is more cohesive while offering different sounds. Melodic tunes mixed with hard bumping trap sounds is the recipe that Travis used to endear himself with fans from the beginning.
It may seem as I’m saying Birds was a bad album, but I’m not. It’s a good album, just a let down from his debut. With Astroworld, Rodeo has its proper sequel. Travis Scott aimed to recreate the feeling of his childhood amusement park, and with the multitude of sounds, features, and themes, he has succeeded in creating that amusement park.