Photo courtesy of Flickr
Story by Isong Maro / Contributing Writer
Houston artist Travis Scott’s long-awaited album, “ASTROWORLD,” after being pushed back from 2017, has finally been released. The album’s title, according to Scott, was derived from an amusement park in Houston of the same name that he would frequent when he was younger. Scott has also been quoted as saying that he started making music after the park was shut down.
The production on this album is handled by a wide range of producers, including frequent Scott collaborators WondaGurl and Frank Dukes. Seasoned production engineer Mike Dean, whom Scott considers a mentor, served as the album’s executive producer and also received a production credit on a few songs. Interestingly, John Mayer received a production credit on the track “ASTROTHUNDER.” The album is supported by the song “BUTTERFLY EFFECT,” which was released in 2017 as the album’s lead single.
The opening song on the album is “STARGAZING,” a hard-hitting, drum-driven track backed by moody vocal melodies sung in the background.
The follow-up track, “CAROUSEL,” features Frank Ocean and contains some oddly satisfying vocal melodies that just seem to fit with the beat.
“STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” features artist Kid Cudi’s infamous hums in the background, as well as British artist James Blake delivering the song’s hook and the final refrain.
Another high point on the album is the song “SICKO MODE,” which features Drake. The song is a combination of three beats that starts out with an organ-heavy beat that builds up to a more laid-back synth-bass-driven track and finally transitions to a Memphis bounce beat.
Following its rise in popularity, new wave hip-hop music has often been on the end of several criticisms. From a perceived lack in lyrical subject matter and technique to the inclusion of questionable content, the qualms with the new wave are endless. While a lot of this animosity toward new wave hip-hop is justified, an often overlooked aspect of the genre is its capacity to truly embrace an incredible array of sounds underneath its sonic umbrella. This kind of music also allows for a lot of experimentation.
Scott, since the beginning of his foray into music, with projects including “Owl Pharaoh” (2013) and “Rodeo” (2015), has been an innovative force in new wave hip-hop. While his experiments with the sound have not always yielded perfect results, there has always been a lingering feeling as to his true potential.
Each song on “ASTROWORLD” is uniquely crafted, yet they effortlessly complement each other. Even at 17 tracks, the album is still very cohesive. This album is, quite possibly, the first time in recent memory that the sound of new wave hip-hop has been this expertly explored. Not only is Scott an artist who has a visceral understanding of the new wave, he is also fully aware of what he is able to bring to the table artistically. This album is a successful exercise in his abilities.
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