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Album Review: Travis Scott’s ‘Astroworld’ Is a Thrill Ride

An appropriate commemoration for the Houson theme park.

Nicole Kitchens

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AstroWorld was torn down in 2005, and Travis Scott never quite got over it.

After all, the closing of Houston’s infamous Six Flags theme park was what prompted him to start making music in the first place. That being said, it should only be natural that he name his third studio album after the landmark; he even noted AstroWorld’s closing in an interview with GQ as the instance that “took all the fun out of [Houston.]” Travis Scott’s first promise of “Astroworld” came in 2016, which makes it safe to say that this might be one of the most anticipated releases of the year. The hype was enough to feed even more into the ominous mystique that surrounded his breakthrough albums, “Rodeo” and “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight,” with fans thinking, hoping, and praying that any moment now, Scott could be releasing “Astroworld.” And now that the wait is over, fans are being met with Travis Scott at his absolute best.

Although the 17 track album as a whole is truly impressive, it’s safe to predict that the first five tracks will be (mark my words) the main singles that get the most streams and radio play. Almost all of the five songs switch pace and thought process mid-track, the seamless transition of each song leading onto the next like a storyline. “Stargazing” is menacing, a dreamlike opener to the album that leads to the equally dangerous “Carousel,” which features Frank Ocean. Things start to get real, however, on “Sicko Mode,” where Drake’s guest spot is a mere afterthought compared to Scott’s verse; the jarring funk of the beat change is incredible. It’s worth noting that this album also boasts one of the most impressive guest lists of the year, with Stevie Wonder lending his harmonica skills on “Stop Trying to Be God,” Pharell and Tame Impala on “Skeletons,” and John Mayer and Thundercat on “Astrothunder.” The Quavo and Takeoff guest spots on “Who? What?” might have been enough to singlehandedly save the disaster that was 2017’s “Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho,” had it been featured on the disappointed collaboration.

“Butterfly Effect” is still as much of a standout track on the album as it was when it was released as a single in 2017, but it’s tracks like “Coffee Bean” that really make Scott’s artistry stand out. Not only does the song have an unforgettable beat, but it’s a brutally honest verse, focusing on brooding introversion relating to his relationship with Kylie Jenner. At one point, he fearfully envisions himself facing a divorce court, battling for custody over his daughter with Jenner. But despite an uncertain future in mind, Travis Scott has definitely found his place in stardom with “Astroworld.” While it started as a Tweeted promise, it also fueled an unreal amount of hype. But any doubts of “Astroworld”’s ability to live up to expectations should be tossed. Scott really does treat this album like a literal theme park, if you’ll excuse the analogy, employing the guest list like side-attractions while also making it crucially clear that he is the main event.

So finally, 13 years after AstroWorld’s devastating shutdown in Houston, Travis Scott’s own storied “Astroworld” is here. And it was definitely worth the wait.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Nicole Kitchens is a Journalism major at the University of South Carolina. She is an avid music writer and once received an Instagram like from Keith Richards -- she hasn’t stopped talking about it since. To read more of her reviews and features, visit her blog: https://www.theelectricblonde.com/. Also, follow her Hunter-Thompson-esque adventures on Instagram: @nicolekitchens

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