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Culture Shock

Travis Scott - Astroworld

Released August 3, 2018


Travis Scott’s newest concept album, Astroworld, pays tribute to an old Six Flags theme park that was once in Scott’s hometown of Houston. Astroworld was originally set to release in 2017 after the album name was announced back in May 2016, but with delays, we saw the official release in 2018. The album was anxiously anticipated and when it finally dropped, it did not disappoint. Astroworld gives the listener a highly imaginative experience of being at an amusement park, tripping on hallucinogens.

Prior to the release of Astroworld, Scott released “Watch” featuring Lil Uzi Vert and Kanye West, which heightened excitement for the album as a sneak peek of what was to come. Because “Watch” perfectly matched the Atsroworld aesthetic with its intense amusement park sound, it was surprising and a bit disappointing to see it not appear on the album.

The night of the album release, Scott played a set at Lollapalooza and the energy was high with fans all over already sporting the new era’s merch to get early access for the album.

The set was exciting and Scott promoted his new album by including new songs: “NC-17,” “BUTTERFLY EFFECT,” and “5% TINT." The festival also had a balloon of Travis Scott’s head like the one on the album cover. All of this happening right before the release only increased the hype around Astroworld.

There is no doubt that the tracks on Astroworld live up to the theme park concept presented on the album cover and merch that Scott was shooting for. Astroworld is an immersive experience into a world of amusement with its psychedelic and space-like beats which pair nicely with the amusement park sound effects. The first few songs on the album roll into each other like a rollercoaster ride with its many beat and tempo changes. The opening track, “STARGAZING” perfectly sets the mindset for the rest of the album with lyrics like “rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, got me stargazing,” and "psychedelics got me goin’ crazy.” Similarly to Travis Scott’ previous albums, there is a heavy presence of drugs in Astroworld but with more emphasis on the effects of hallucinogenic drugs. However, unlike past music, Scott used these drug references to emphasize the album concept.

Scott manipulates his voice in a way that is gritty yet pleasant and it fits with the concept seamlessly. The smooth instrumentation of the tracks contrasts with his voice, giving his songs a twisted dynamic. Astroworld provides good vibes with an edge, leaving the feeling that there is something lurking around the corner. “Who’s that creeping through my window? Before you come outside I got the M4.” While it's a jam, “5% TINT” contributes to the feeling of underlying suspense.

Scott and his team did a phenomenal job of putting the featuring artists into songs that fit their personal styles while still enhancing Scott’s influence. The tracks conform to the typical styles of the featured artists with a Travis-like twist. “NC-17,” for example, could easily be imagined as being on 21 Savage’s Issa Album. The second track, “SICKO MODE,” stays exciting with three beat changes and a feature from Drake. Hearing features from big names like Nav and Frank Ocean make the album even more worthwhile.

The last track, “COFFEE BEAN” is a laid-back, melodious jam that closes the album perfectly with its old hip-hop vibes. “COFFEE BEAN” offers chill vibes that transitions away from the rollercoaster feels of the preceding tracks, giving a sense of closure. As a casual pre-Astroworld Travis fan, this album was a game changer for me. I feel myself slowly becoming more immersed in Scott’s music. Astroworld shows a different kind of Travis Scott that has not been heard before with a fun narrative to follow as well as some hip bops to play on repeat. Scott’s lyricism does not seem to have improved that much, but Astroworld shows that his production work and collaboration with other artists are improving, which builds expectation for future Travis Scott records. Let’s just hope there are more concept albums in Scott’s future because Astroworld has been a fun ride and the most exciting Scott album to date.


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