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Down the Road Review 001: ASTROWORLD by Travis Scott


ASTROWORLD album cover
via Epic Records

With the release of UTOPIA, I wanted to take a look back on his third studio album ASTROWORLD, which will be turning 5 this year. This will start a series that I call "Down the Road Reviews", where I do a track-by-track breakdown of albums at milestone anniversaries (i.e. 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc.) and see how well they age. Let's get to it.


"STARGAZING"


Travis hits us with what will be the sound of the album on its' first track with a spaced-out yet hard-hitting beat making you feel like you're on some psychedelics allowing you to float through space. Before allowing the listener to get too comfortable he switches to a straight-up hard-hitting beat allowing him to spit. The intro does a good job of setting up the sound of the album and tells the listener that there may be twists and turns on the album, much like a rollercoaster.


"CAROUSEL"


With yet another spaced-out banger Travis talks about a day being on the same psychedelics I mentioned the first track makes you feel like you're on. He also enlists help from enigmatic artist Frank Ocean who spits his own verse and sings the hook to the song. The Beastie Boys sample that runs throughout the song paired with great production makes the song feel cinematic in scope.


"SICKO MODE"


Now to the song that made DJ Akademiks lose his mind. "Sicko Mode" is one of the strangest bangers I've heard, even in the time since the album was released, with Drake on both the front and back end of the song as well as the three beats that make up the track. Travis and Drake destroyed the song and it makes sense why it is the biggest song to come from the album.


"R.I.P. SCREW"


If we continue the rollercoaster analogy, the first three tracks were like the first few hills on a roller coaster, exhilarating. With that being said I am glad Travis decided to mellow out the vibe which pays respects to Houston hip-hop legend D.J. Screw, who helped develop the chopped-and-screwed DJ technique, which was important to the Houston hip-hop scene. Swae Lee is a nice addition to the song floating over the more subdued production. The song encapsulates Houston hip-hop.


"STOP TRYING TO BE GOD"


On another rather subdued track, Travis preaches for upcoming rappers to stay true to themselves and not develop a god complex. With great production coupled with Kid Cudi's angelic hums, James Blake's soothing singing, and Stevie Wonder on harmonica this makes the track one of Travis' best tracks, delivering a timeless message.


"NO BYSTANDERS"


Back to the bangers. This song is meant to be moshed to. Juice WRLD adds his splash to the track. Sheck Wes brings the energy to the hook, which interpolates Three 6 Mafia's "Tear da Club Up ’97". The title refers to Travis not wanting to have any people at his concerts just stand around. It would be hard to while listening to the track.


"SKELETONS"


Linking up with longtime collaborators The Weeknd, Kevin Parker of Tame Impala fame, and Pharrell. Travis delivers a calm yet cinematic song detailing meeting a romantic partner while also describing the feeling of being on LSD, which produces the feeling of floating. The song encapsulates that vibe perfectly.


"WAKE UP"


Nothing against "Skeletons" but I believe this to be the better of the two songs featuring The Weeknd. With both artists being in relationships at the time of the release of the song, they describe explicit things they do would their respective partners. With production credits from John Mayer as well as others. The Weeknd elevates the song and makes the hook quite the earworm.


"5% TINT"


Over a ghoulish sample on top of a traditional trap beat Travis Scott talks about his usual topics (i.e. sex, drugs, cars). The sample gives the track quite the eerie vibe and with his penchant for making earworm songs, it doesn't take for the melody of this song to get stuck in your head.


"NC-17"


Now to what I feel is the worst track on the album. Over a pretty average trap beat Travis Scott raps about his usual topics but includes lines that make the listener cringe ("Fuck with all my chains on, let's have chain sex"). Even with a good feature from 21 Savage, who delivers one of the funnier bars on the entire album ("I nutted on her cheek, her new nickname is Babyface"), the song comes the closest to being a skip.


"ASTROTHUNDER"


Over a spacey guitar-laced trap beat Travis ruminates on how he feels the life he wants is just outside of his reach, a feeling most if not all people can relate to. This song is perfect to chill and vibe to.


"YOSEMITE"



Once the song that people went to hear Nav's very low-key bars, is still one of the catchier tracks on the album, with quite the earworm guitar playing throughout the track and good features from both Gunna and Nav, making this one of the standouts of the album.


"CAN'T SAY"



This song was the world's introduction to Don Tolliver, who in the years since this song's release has grown substantially, attaining his own viral songs ("No Idea"). On this song, which includes chopped and screwed parts to pay homage to Houston, Travis and Don trade stories of getting high and getting with women. Don Tolliver gives one of the album's standout moments, showing everyone what to get ready for.


"WHO? WHAT?"


Over a thumping trap beat, Travis trades off verses with Migos members Quavo and Takeoff for one of the more energy-filled tracks on the album. Everyone here does their part. In my opinion, it is nothing amazing, but nowhere near the worst song on the album.


"BUTTERFLY EFFECT"


This track was released more than a year before the release of the album, adding to the hype. I used to think this song was quite generic and while there are parts of the track that are, overall the track has gotten stuck in my head to become one of my favorites on the album.


"HOUSTONFORNICATION"


In yet another ode to his hometown of Houston, this track serves as an ode to the city and the reckless and potentially dangerous activities that a young Travis would partake in. With multiple listens this track does a good job of representing Houston.


"COFFEE BEAN"


Now to end the album Travis gives the listener one of, if not, his most personal tracks in his entire discography. On the track, he details his rocky relationship with baby mother Kylie Jenner, and the backlash and controversy surrounding said relationship. Travis also lays out his fears and insecurities as well. All of this is rapped over a boom-bap beat which is the exact opposite you would expect from Travis Scott. All of this brought together beautifully by Travis allows the closer of the album to be one of its best moments.


All in all, I believe that ASTROWORLD has aged quite well in the five years since its' release, as I still find myself going back to a good majority of these tracks to this day. While there are some low moments on the album, the low moments allow you to feel like you're on quite the rollercoaster at the theme park that the album title refers to.




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