Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Lanstan — Travis Scott, Astroworld (2018)
Dear Travis Scott’s Astroworld,
It’s only been four years since the XXL Freshman Cypher of Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, 21 Savage and co shook the music world. Now as trap music dominates the charts, the days of auto-tune mockery and “what is this mumble crap?” comments seem like a distant memory. In this time, many artists have risen and fallen with one-hit wonders becoming more and more commonplace but some incredible artists have remained at the centre of this growing scene.
I still remember hearing ‘Drugs you should try it’ for the first time. The production and mixing of the vocals were like nothing I had ever heard before. Travis’ voice filled every nook and cranny of the space with heavy overdrive and effects that felt like they had been sent to space and back. In the years that followed, I watched Travis Scott become a household name with consistently ground-breaking albums that pushed the limits of his own niche he had carved out in the hip hop world.
Anyone that followed Travis in the years leading up to Astroworld knows there was A LOT of hype going into this. He announced the album title way back in 2016 and had said that he had planned this album for years in advance. Astroworld is named after the theme park from Houston, where Travis grew up and he has said that the album, for him, felt like he was giving that energy back to the listener.
One of the coolest things about this record for me is the secret features. There are no credited features on streaming services so on first listen I had no idea who I could expect to hear. I remember I didn’t even look at the track-list or anything. I just pressed play and closed my eyes. Off the back of one of the best album openers I’ve ever heard in ‘STARGAZING’, none other than Frank Ocean comes in to deliver the hook on the very next track. This is of course followed by the smash hit ‘SICKO MODE’ which has Travis going back and forth with the biggest artist in the world – Drake, and he even got Swae Lee in there just to yell “Someone said”.
My favourite track on the album is the fourth track – ‘R.I.P. SCREW’, which features more Swae Lee vocals and Travis at his absolute prime. At this point I already knew that this album was amazing. The production is out of this world, the vocal mixing is like butter in my ears and the energy flows from absolute bangers into smooth soulful tracks. Then he had to completely outdo himself with the grandiose masterpiece ‘STOP TRYING TO BE GOD’. Employing Kid Cudi just to hum on your track might be the most genius thing I’ve ever heard. By the time I heard James Blake adding beautiful harmonies and Stevie Wonder jamming out a Harmonica solo for the outro, I knew this album was a timeless classic. I remember I was once asked what my dream collaboration would be and I said Travis Scott and Tame Impala and we even got that too.
Travis gave this album the full promotion it deserved, including Grammy and Super Bowl performances, a full-length Netflix movie and the key to the city of Houston. It was very inspiring for me to watch him tick off these goals at such a high level. Every project I have ever made has always revolved around a key theme or idea that blends all the tracks together. His ability to do that, as well as the intricacy of the songwriting and production is what makes Travis and Astroworld so special to me. This record for me, showed how a project could achieve the same level of curation and critical acclaim as old classics while remaining unapologetic in adhering to the tropes of modern hip hop.