Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is ASTROWORLD, the new album from rapper Travis Scott.
ASTROWORLD, the latest album from Travis Scott, is a tribute to his roots and the theme park by the same name. With the grounds of the park now turned into parking and storage for local events, Scott’s third album is a self-described attempt to capture the same sense of joy that the park provided for all of its visitors. During the pre-release press run for his last album, Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, Scott announced his next project would be a tribute to the beloved theme park of his childhood. In a 2017 interview with British GQ, he said the album is going to sound like “taking an amusement park away from kids.” ASTROWORLD is reminiscent of an amusement park, but it’s definitely not one appropriate for children; there’s a lot of recklessness in the margins of Scott’s ASTROWORLD. And in many ways, this is the quintessential Travis Scott album: the beat switches and odyssey-like songs found all over Rodeo are back. Like Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, ASTROWORLD has songs to fit nearly any mood. It took some time, but it seems like Scott has found his personal recipe for success and potentially some serious longevity.
“STARGAZING” is especially ominous when listened to while imagining yourself walking through the massive golden Scott head plastered on the cover. Then the beat switches and it becomes clear that Scott is not going to waste any time showing you some of the latest and greatest attractions his world has to offer. “CAROUSEL,” “SICKO MODE” and “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” play the role of big, flashy rides built within view of the entrance to pull you farther into the park. During your stroll deeper into the park, you eventually run into “WAKE UP” and “WHO? WHAT!” which are cautiously safe and unoriginal but still make for a tolerable time if nothing else. Later on you stumble upon “SKELETONS” and “ASTROTHUNDER,” which at first glance look enticing, but come out promising too much and failing to fully deliver. Call it self-indulgence on behalf of the park’s visionary. Then, off in a corner of the park you see Nav sitting at the top of a big drop tower trying to rap into a microphone sitting 300 feet below him for his verse on “YOSEMITE.”
With so much to soak in during the hour runtime, it gets tricky to prioritize certain attractions. That being said, you can’t really go wrong with following the path Scott has laid out. There’s no doubt a lot of time went into constructing the tracklist to flow the way it does, but it exists more as a piece of guidance than as a firm listening order. Each song works on its own without depending too heavily on the context of surrounding songs, and as a result Scott is able to blend sounds from his past with new twists to his aesthetic. What we get because of the pick-and-choose nature of the songs is something for every kind of Travis Scott fan.
Eventually, after either exploring every ride and attraction in the park or just returning to your favorites, you’re escorted out by the Nineteen85-produced “COFFEE BEAN.” The beat is silky as the pink cotton candy you would probably be offered on your way out of the strip club located right next to the entrance to Scott’s decadent, debaucherous park. The closing track features a vulnerable Scott ruminating on his flaws, both real and projected, which makes you wonder how important this album — and the memory of Astroworld — is to him. Thanks to its highs and despite its lulls, ASTROWORLD is ultimately a satisfying experience. Scott takes a handful of risks throughout that pay off greatly. At the same time, he doesn’t abandon the energy that has made him so wildly popular. The first thing you’ll want to do after finishing it is jump to the front of the line and experience it all over again.