Astroworld - Dual Album Review
Review 1: Draque Williams
You may know him as the man that “gives you goosebumps every time.” Travis Scott is a 26-year-old rapper whose creativity in the studio has let his music glide his way into our ears. Travis Scott’s latest album Astroworld has had him up on the charts of the Top 100 Billboard. His top songs “Stargazing” and “Sickomode” have reached #4 and #8 on the top billboard 100, which has shown us that he can most definitely slide into mainstream music while we keep his songs on repeat on our phones and radios. When I first listened to “Stargazing” the beat in the beginning made me want to jump around my room and just uplifted my mood. The crazy part is that the lyrics had no part in making me feel that way, but when you hear that “rollie rollie got my stargazing” that right there makes you want to “go crazy” as he says in the song. Then changing it up in “Sickomode” where Travis and another well known hip-hop artist Drake, conquer “Sickomode” by giving you a mood changing song where the beat and lyrics are the same. Each part of the song is like multiple songs compiled into one. With Travis Scott the music is never the same.While you listen, or maybe even “bump” to his music, you may see that Travis Scott has let a variety of different types of beats and most of all singers and rappers to be in his songs. What makes Astroworld so great is because the album isn't “basic.” Every song has a different vibe, beat, and even additional artists that helps the music become one so we can feel the mood he is trying to express to us.This is his third album to debut, which has showed his skill as a entertainer and as a reliable source for everlasting memorable songs. If I were to rate this album 1 out of 10, I’d most definitely give it a 10.
Review 2: Gabe Gamlin
Astroworld was a prominent American theme park located in Houston, Texas, and functioned from 1968 to 2005. It was owned under the Six Flags amusement park plan, and featured very intense and large roller coasters- oh, wait… You want to know about Travis Scott’s Astroworld, don’t you?
Astroworld is the latest album from Houston Hometown Hero and Kanye West protege Jacques Webster, more famously known as Travis Scott. Travis has been in the rap scene since 2014, releasing mixtapes like Owl Pharaoh and Days Before Rodeo, both of which built up his cult following in the underground Hip Hop community. They were praised for their blending of Houston’s signature “Chopped and Screwed” sound with an anthemic and rebellious atmosphere and lyricism inspired by Kanye West and Kid Cudi. It would be Travis’ sophomore album Rodeo, however, that would put him into the mainstream spotlight. The now deemed “classic” album put him front and center of the southern rap scene, dominating the charts and changing the landscape of Hip Hop for years to come. Since Rodeo, Travis has adopted a more trap laced style of production and rapping, fitting in more closely with his neighbors of the ATL, such as Migos and Young Thug, and such a change was especially noted in his 2016 album Birds in the Trap sing McKnight. Birds was received with high praise by reviewers, much like his previous outing, but was soon seen as an inferior album to Rodeo by the actual rap community, due to its resemblance to many of Travis’ contemporaries’ work. Many found it unsatisfactory in the latter half of its existence due to it not having as many notable or groundbreaking songs as Rodeo, as some of the highlights of that album, like “3500”, “90210”, and “Antidote”, were much more unique and different sounding than the leading singles of BITTSM, being “Goosebumps”, “Beibs in the Trap”, and “Pick up the Phone”.
So with Travis being pressured for years to release another classic album, pressure is as heavy and damp as a sock in the Rouge River. The expectation and hype built up for Astroworld was immense, almost as much as other coveted Hip Hop albums like Detox from Dr. Dre and The Carter V by Lil Wayne. How can Travis possibly top Rodeo, said Hip Hop. How can he rise above his already high mark of talent?
Well, Astroworld is supposed to do just that, but falls short of that goal. It is however, still a decent project.
I’m sure some readers may be surprised by such a verdict, as the album has received high praise from his fans and other critics alike, but the issue with this album is in the details of who’s album this even is. Travis’ new project sounds great, and is entertaining at face value, but the devil is in the details. Travis Scott prides himself on being the coordinator of the various artists and pieces of his music, branding himself as a sort of “composer”, but this helps to kill what exactly is meant to make him special. It is not a crowning achievement to coordinate and bring together the work of others to make a good album, as essentially every rapper around him is tasked to do the same. Any great artist has to do this to some degree in order to make their music the best it can be, but they also bring all of their own individual talents, prowess, and artistry to the table to make their music great. Unfortunately, Travis himself does not do that much to excite or stir the thoughts, emotions, and feeling of the listener on his own, and relies on the other parts of any given song he is on to make him seem more talented. This problem can be seen in each of the tracks in Astroworld, and the album helps to highlight his weaknesses as an artist.
The first track, Stargazing, is a moody, spacey, and beautifully produced track, credits going toward 30 Roc, Bkorn, BWheezy, and Sonny Digital. The beat shifts and moves around Travis’ autoned, singing vocals, and features a beat shift that not only changes the tone of the track, but Travis’ voice and flow as well. In the first part of the song, Travis details the age old narrative of being high and confused on a starry night, beguiling the listener with his exploits and stories of lush lifestyle and excess. It’s a promising start, but we have heard all of this before. The beat eventually dies down, and quickly it shifts to an urgent, spiraling beat, in which Travis delivers more aggressive and calculated flows to accommodate his detailing of his struggle to stay afloat in the rap game and be a father and a partner at the same time. His voice sounds eerily similar to Kanye in the latter half of the song, but is still more raspy and youthful to make him sound distinct.
So the problem here is that pretty much every other song on Astroworld follows this same structure, save for a few. It is a potent formula, which makes for great songs, but not a great album. Sicko Mode follows this structure to a T with the addition of two Drake verses and vocal samplings of Swae Lee and Big Hawk, RIP Screw does the same, as well as No Bystanders, Skeletons, NC-17, Carousel, Yosemite, Who?What?, Houston Fornication, and the leading single for the album, Butterfly Effect. The songs that stand out make the Album much more substantive in contrast. In 5% Tint, Travis’ style and flow are consistent, as is the beat. Astro Thunder, a song about his disconnect from the reality around him, is a song with great aesthetic value. Coffee Bean, which discusses his woes with his relationship with his rather famous partner Kylie Jenner, in a style that pays homage to Common, A Tribe Called Quest, and Slum Village, is an important introspection that mirrors a focus and style to that of what is considered by many fans to be his greatest song, 90210. The most incredible and important track, Stop Trying to be God, is an anthemic and illustrious composition featuring production from Kanye West, vocals from James Blake and Philip Bailey, Harmonica solos from Stevie Wonder, Kid Cudi’s iconic hums, and Travis’ mysterious and cryptic rapping. It’s essentially a moist, delicious marble cake of talent.
Overall, Astroworld is about a 7.5 out of 10, with amazing production and performances from each of the features from the album, but Travis himself does not pull his own weight to make it all the more incredible, and many of the songs follow the exact same structure for track after track.