Astroworld (album)

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Astroworld
Astroworld by Travis Scott.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 3, 2018 (2018-08-03)
Recorded2016 – July 2018
Studio
GenreHip hop[1]
Length58:33
Label
Producer
Travis Scott chronology
Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho
(2017)
Astroworld
(2018)
Alternative cover
"Night" version cover
"Night" version cover
Singles from Astroworld
  1. "Butterfly Effect"
    Released: May 15, 2017
  2. "Sicko Mode"
    Released: August 21, 2018
  3. "Yosemite"
    Released: November 20, 2018

Astroworld (stylized in all caps) is the third studio album by American rapper Travis Scott. It was released on August 3, 2018, by Cactus Jack Records, Epic Records, and Grand Hustle Records. The album follows his second studio album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (2016), and his collaborative album Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho (2017) with Quavo. The album features guest vocals from Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean, Drake, The Weeknd, James Blake, Swae Lee, Gunna, Philip Bailey, Nav, 21 Savage, Quavo, Takeoff, Juice Wrld, Sheck Wes and Don Toliver, among others. Production was handled by multiple producers, including Mike Dean, Allen Ritter, Hit-Boy, WondaGurl, Tay Keith, Tame Impala, Frank Dukes, Sonny Digital and Thundercat.

Astroworld was supported by three singles, "Butterfly Effect", "Sicko Mode", and "Yosemite". The album received critical acclaim and performed well commercially, debuting atop the US Billboard 200 with 537,000 album-equivalent units, of which 270,000 were pure sales. It was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Astroworld is nominated for Best Rap Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, with "Sicko Mode" receiving nominations for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.

Background[edit]

The title of the album was announced in May 2016,[2][3][4] and initially teased for a 2017 release.[5] The album title is named after the defunct theme park Six Flags AstroWorld, which was located in Houston, Texas prior to its closure in 2005. In a 2017 interview with GQ, Scott spoke on the title of the album: "They tore down AstroWorld to build more apartment space. That's what it's going to sound like, like taking an amusement park away from kids. We want it back. We want the building back. That's why I'm doing it. It took the fun out of the city."[6] Scott described the album as a continuation of his debut album, Rodeo (2015), stating: "My whole idea was, if you locked into Rodeo, you definitely locked into Astroworld. I'm just finishing the saga I started on my first album. This is supposed to be my second album. I had to go quick, because like I said, I had all these ideas, I just had to get off real quick, but now I'm finally back home with Astroworld."[7]

Recording[edit]

Recording for the album took place between 2016 and 2018, with Travis Scott posting updates through social media.[8][9][10] In July 2018, it was reported that Scott was completing the album in Hawaii with a variety of recording artists and producers, such as Mike Dean, Nav, Frank Dukes, Sonny Digital, WondaGurl, Sheck Wes, Gunna, Wheezy, Don Toliver, Allen Ritter and Amir "Cash" Esmailian.[11][12][13]

Composition[edit]

Astroworld is a hip hop album, incorporating elements of trap and psychedelic music.[1][14][15] "Stargazing" has been described as a "psychedelic trap" song,[16] while "Coffee Bean" is said to inhabit "old school hip hop territory with a blissed-out funk guitar."[17] The song "Skeletons" has been labelled as "kaleidoscope-pop" by Pitchfork that draws lyrical influences from Kanye West.[1]

Artwork[edit]

The cover was shot by American photographer David LaChapelle, and features a giant golden inflatable of Scott's head as the entrance to an amusement park, with children, parents, and park employees in front of it. A second cover features the same amusement park entrance at nighttime, replacing the family-friendly features with adult-themed content.[18][19] On August 1, 2018, transgender model Amanda Lepore, who is a known collaborator with LaChapelle, questioned why she had been excluded on the final version of the second cover.[20] LaChapelle later responded, stating that it was due to Lepore upstaging the other models on the cover.[21]

In September 2018, TMZ reported that featured artist Frank Ocean filed a cease and desist against Scott to have his verse on "Carousel" removed due to disagreements over the song's sound.[22] Ocean soon issued a clarification, stating: "I think the song sounds cool [...] I also approved it before it came out so the cease and desist wasn't about 🔊 it was about 🏳️‍🌈. Me and Travis resolved it amongst ourselves weeks ago. 💖" Ocean's use of the pride flag was seen to be a reference to the controversial removal of Lepore from the cover.[23]

Release and promotion[edit]

In May 2017, Scott uploaded three songs to SoundCloud—"A Man", "Green and Purple" featuring Playboi Carti, and "Butterfly Effect".[24] "Butterfly Effect" was released on May 15, 2017, for streaming and digital download as the album's lead single.[25] It peaked at number 50 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[26] The single, "Watch" featuring Kanye West and Lil Uzi Vert, was released on May 4, 2018.[27] The song peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[26]

On July 27, 2018, a giant sculpture of Scott's head appeared on top of a Amoeba Music store in Los Angeles.[28][29] Multiple copies of the sculpture appeared in various other locations, including Scott's hometown of Houston, Texas.[30][31] After significant internet speculation, the release date for Astroworld was announced on July 30, 2018, through social media, alongside an album trailer, which featured the track "Stargazing".[32][33]

The release was followed by an episode of Wav Radio on Beats 1 with Chase B. Three songs were premiered that did not make the final track listing: "Houdini" featuring Playboi Carti, "Zoom" featuring Gunna, and "Part Time".[34] A music video for the song "Stop Trying to Be God" was released on August 6, 2018, directed by Dave Meyers.[35] Scott performed a medley of three songs at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.[36]

"Sicko Mode" was sent to rhythmic and urban contemporary radio on August 21, 2018, as the album's second single.[37][38] It peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.[26] "Yosemite" was sent to urban contemporary radio on November 20, 2018, as the album's third single.[39]

Originally released without featured credits in the tracklist, those were added to the album in December 2018 in Apple Music and iTunes.[40]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.1/10[41]
Metacritic85/100[42]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[43]
Consequence of SoundB[14]
Entertainment WeeklyB[15]
Exclaim!9/10[44]
HipHopDX4.2/5[45]
The Independent5/5 stars[17]
NME5/5 stars[46]
Pitchfork7.8/10[1]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[47]
XXL4/5[48]

Astroworld was met with critical acclaim.[49] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 85, based on 19 reviews.[42] Jordan Bassett of NME gave Astroworld a perfect rating, praising the album's guest appearances and noting "Stop Trying to Be God" as "a record of extraordinary prowess", while describing "Coffee Bean" as "a moment that encapsulates the scope and ambition of Astroworld." Bassett concluded: "This is the sound of a musician who has worked to forge an entire world, an empire, around himself – we can peer in, but from afar, guessing at his motives and life behind the velvet rope."[46] With similar acclaim, Kassandra Guagliardi of Exclaim! concluded that Astroworld "shows the evolution of Travis Scott as an artist and is his most refined, imaginative, and rage-worthy project yet."[44] Roisin O'Connor of The Independent described Astroworld as "a futuristic record with virtually flawless production, that lingers on the mind long after the final track" and labelled it Scott's "most career-defining work to date."[17] For Consequence of Sound, Wren Graves wrote that Astroworld is "an album full of infectious flows and atmospheric beats."[14] Thomas Hobbs of Highsnobiety stated that Astroworld "will be remembered as the moment Travis Scott produced a piece of music worthy of the riots he is capable of inducing. It's a wildly entertaining circus ride. Travis Scott desperately needed a great album to justify the hype, and with Astroworld, he just might have a classic."[50] Grant Rindner of The Line of Best Fit saying "Scott could have easily made another distorted, debaucherous project like his previous two albums, but by emphasizing his vocal performances and finding the best middle ground he ever has with his bevy of superstar collaborators, he's made Astroworld a theme park worth revisiting whether you came in as a stan or a skeptic."[51]

Larry Fitzmaurice of Pitchfork labelled Astroworld as Scott's strongest album to date, stating that "his skill as a curator helps sculpt a sticky, humid, psychedelic world with dazzling production and odd pleasures at every turn", although considered Scott to "play ringmaster to his neon-decayed circus of sound rather than become the main attraction."[1] Andrew Barker of Variety said, "At 17 tracks, Astroworld is not without filler—the 21 Savage feature "NC-17" is tiresomely sophomoric, while "Can't Say" and "Houstonfornication" never really take shape—but rarely does the album feel lazy or uninspired."[52] For Rolling Stone, Christopher R. Weingarten complimented the first half of the album, though considered the second half to be weaker in comparison: "Unfortunately, Scott doesn't keep the envelope pushing up for the whole album: a seven-song stretch in the back end is vintage Travis with its zoned-out, hypnotic throb. However, the rest marks the most interesting music of his career, Scott no longer just looking the part of a brilliant artist, but sounding like it too."[47]

Accolades[edit]

Year-end lists
Publication List Rank Ref.
AllMusic AllMusic Best of 2018 N/A
Billboard 50 Best Albums of 2018
7
Clash Clash Albums of the Year 2018
2
Complex 50 Best Albums of 2018
2
Entertainment Weekly 20 Best Albums of 2018
20
Exclaim! Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of 2018
6
The Guardian The 50 Best Albums of 2018
28
Highsnobiety The 25 Best Albums of 2018
6
The Independent The 40 Best Albums of 2018
13
NME Best Albums of the Year 2018
19
Noisey Noisey's 100 Best Albums of 2018
7
NPR Music The 50 Best Albums of 2018
35
Okayplayer The Best Albums of 2018
4
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2018
23
Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2018
6
Uproxx The 50 Best Albums of 2018
1
Vibe 30 Best Albums of 2018 N/A
Awards
Ceremony Category Result Ref.
61st Grammy Awards Best Rap Album Pending [70]

Commercial performance[edit]

In Travis Scott's home country of the United States, Astroworld debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 537,000 album-equivalent units, which included 270,000 pure album sales.[71] The album scored the second-largest first week of the year, behind Scorpion by Drake, and second-largest pure album sales week of the year, behind Dave Matthews Band's Come Tomorrow.[71] The album earned 349.43 million streams in the first week, marking fifth largest streaming week ever.[71][72] It serves as Scott's second number-one album in the United States.[71] Following the release, all 17 tracks on the album entered the US Billboard Hot 100, including "Sicko Mode" (at four) and "Stargazing" (eight), which made Scott the fourth act to have debuted multiple songs in the chart's top 10 simultaneously.[73] The album earned 205,000 album-equivalent units in the second week, staying at number one.[74] On December 3, 2018, Astroworld returned to the number-one spot on the Billboard 200, earning 71,000 album-equivalent units, almost four months after its initial release.[75]

On September 21, 2018, Astroworld was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with one million album-equivalent units in the United States.[76] By the end of 2018, the album has earned over 1,753,000 album-equivalent units in the US, with over 439,000 being pure sales, marking the second best-selling hip hop in pure album sales of the year, behind only Eminem's Kamikaze.[77][78]

In Australia, Astroworld opened atop the ARIA Albums Chart, becoming Travis Scott's first number-one on the chart.[79] Two tracks "Sicko Mode" (at seven) and "Stargazing" (10) charted in the top ten of the ARIA Singles Chart, marking the rapper's first top ten songs in the country.[80] In Canada, Astroworld moved 27,000 album-equivalent units in its opening week.[81] It serves as Scott's first number-one album in the country.[81] In the second week, the album earned 13,000 album-equivalent units, marking the second straight week at the top of the Billboard Canadian Albums.[82] In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart, becoming the rapper's first top ten album on the chart.[83] As well as the album, the three tracks "Sicko Mode" (at nine), "Stargazing" (15), and "Carousel" (29) charted in the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart, while the lead single "Butterfly Effect" previously reached number 57 on the chart.[84]

Track listing[edit]

Credits were adapted from the album's liner notes and Tidal.[85][86]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Stargazing"4:31
2."Carousel" (featuring Frank Ocean)3:00
3."Sicko Mode" (featuring Drake, Swae Lee and Big Hawk)
5:12
4."R.I.P. Screw" (featuring Swae Lee)
3:05
5."Stop Trying to Be God" (featuring James Blake, Kid Cudi, Philip Bailey and Stevie Wonder)
  • Webster
  • James Blake
  • Dean
  • K. Gomringer
  • T. Gomringer
  • Joshua Adams
  • Travis Scott
  • J Beatzz
  • Dean
  • Cubeatz[b]
5:38
6."No Bystanders" (featuring Juice Wrld and Sheck Wes)3:38
7."Skeletons" (featuring Pharrell Williams, Tame Impala and The Weeknd)
2:25
8."Wake Up" (featuring The Weeknd)
3:52
9."5% Tint"
3:16
10."NC-17" (featuring 21 Savage)
2:37
11."Astrothunder"
2:23
12."Yosemite" (featuring Gunna and Nav)
2:30
13."Can't Say" (featuring Don Toliver)
3:18
14."Who? What!" (featuring Quavo and Takeoff)
2:56
15."Butterfly Effect"
3:11
16."Houstonfornication"
  • Webster
  • Thomas
  • N. Jahanbin
  • P. Jahanbin
  • Samuels
  • Sevn Thomas
  • Wallis Lane
3:38
17."Coffee Bean"
3:29
Total length:58:33

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies an additional producer
  • All track titles are stylized in all caps
  • "Stop Trying to Be God" features additional vocals by BJ the Chicago Kid

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes and Tidal.[85][86]

Musicians

  • Mike Dean – keyboards (track 4), guitar (track 17), synthesizer (track 17)
  • Stevie Wonder – harmonica (track 5)
  • John Mayer – guitar (tracks 8, 11, 13)
  • Sheldon Ferguson – guitar (track 12)
  • Nineteen85 – bass (track 17)
  • Isaiah Gage – cello (track 17)
  • Tim Suby – guitar (track 17)
  • Stephen "Johan" Feigenbaum – strings (track 17)

Technical

  • Mike Dean – mastering (all tracks), mixing (tracks 1–13, 16, 17), recording (track 8)
  • Jimmy Cash – assistant engineer (tracks 1–13, 16, 17), recording (tracks 1, 4, 9–14, 17), mixing (tracks 6, 14)
  • Jon Sher – assistant engineer (tracks 1, 3, 16, 17)
  • Ben Sedano – assistant engineer (tracks 1, 3, 14, 16, 17)
  • Sean Solymor – assistant engineer (tracks 1–13, 16, 17)
  • Zach Steele – recording (tracks 2, 5, 12, 13, 17), mixing (track 6)
  • Travis Scott – recording (tracks 2–4, 7–11, 16), mixing (tracks 3–5, 7, 8, 11, 17)
  • Skyler McLean – assistant engineer (tracks 6, 12, 13)
  • Shin Kamiyama – recording (track 8)
  • Thomas Cullison – assistant engineer (track 15)
  • Blake Harden – mixing (track 15), recording (track 15)

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[119] Platinum 80,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[120] Gold 10,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[121] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[122] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[76] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label Ref.
Various August 3, 2018
[86]
October 12, 2018 CD [123]
November 9, 2018 Vinyl [124]

References[edit]

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  122. ^ "British album certifications – Travis Scott – Astroworld". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 3, 2018. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Astroworld in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  123. ^ "Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD [CD]". Amazon.com. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  124. ^ "Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD [Vinyl]". Amazon.com. Retrieved August 4, 2018.