The Houston rapper’s new album features Drake, Frank Ocean, James Blake, and Tame Impala, and is out now
Travis Scott’s highly anticipated third studio album, Astroworld, is here, and now fans can decide whether it was worth the wait. It’s certainly a high-profile effort; the 17-track project features collaborations with a slew of iconic artists, from Drake, to Tame Impala, to (possibly) Stevie Wonder. To add to the hype, the rapper stirred the pot a little with his preview of the David LaChapelle-designed Astroworld album art, to which he (or his team) had made some potentially problematic alterations.
As for the album itself, it makes few references to his child with Kylie Jenner (considering she was born earlier this year), but does reference his relationship with the Kylie Cosmetics titan herself. That’s alongside plenty of more typical references to “sippin’ on purp” and “rollin’, rollin’, rollin’”. Here’s what you need to know about the album.
FRANK OCEAN, JAMES BLAKE, TAME IMPALA, AND DRAKE ALL FEATURE ON IT
A number of guest artists appear in the album’s credits, though they’re not listed as featured artists on streaming services. These include big names from the hip hop world like Drake (“Sicko Mode”), The Weeknd (“Wake Up” and “Skeletons”), Migos’s Quavo and Takeoff (“Who? What!”), and 21 Savage (“NC-17”), but there are some more surprising names, too. The elusive Frank Ocean turns up on “Carousel”, James Blake on “Stop Trying to Be God”, and Tame Impala on “Skeletons”. Meanwhile, Thundercat is on “Astrothunder”, Pharrell Williams is credited on “Skeletons”, and Juice WRLD and Sheck Wes are credited on “No Bystanders”.
STEVIE WONDER MIGHT BE ON IT, TOO
In the outro of “Stop Trying to Be God”, the song bursts into a harmonica solo, perfectly aping the style of Stevie Wonder. In fact, this might actually be the Stevie Wonder. Travis Scott previously shared a photo of the two artists together in the studio, and when Astroworld was released, Scott sent a tweet thanking Wonder (he also thanked Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey).
DAVID LACHAPELLE DESIGNED THE ARTWORK
Travis Scott named Astroworld after the since-closed Texas theme park Six Flags AstroWorld. “They tore down AstroWorld to build more apartment space,” he told GQ last year. “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.”
David LaChapelle’s striking album cover depicts Scott’s head as a giant, golden sculpture that’s also the entrance to an amusement park, a reference to Six Flags AstroWorld’s Texas Cyclone ride. In the promotional lead-up to the album’s release, this image appeared IRL at LA’s Amoeba Music and Houston’s Minute Maid Park. It was… extremely weird, to say the least.
THE ARTWORK CAUSED SOME CONTROVERSY
LaChapelle also shot an alternative cover for the album, and when he and Scott shared this artwork on their respective Instagram accounts, some people noticed something off about the two images. In both images, women are posed in various, provocative poses outside the Scott sculpture – but in one of the covers, the one posted to Scott’s page, one of those women is missing.
It turns out that the woman removed from the artwork is Amanda Lepore, a trans model. That a trans model was the only omission from the artwork concerned some people on social media. Aquaria, winner of Drag Race season 10, tweeted the two images side-by-side and wrote, “Hi transphobia! I just saw transphobia gurl!”
No reason has been given for the removal. Lepore herself responded with humour: “A girl can’t help it! Too distracting for the eyes! Upstaged everyone in the photograph! Oh well... I love @david_lachapelle and @travisscott!” she wrote on Instagram.
Hi transphobia! I just saw transphobia gurl!— Aquaria (@aquariaofficial) August 1, 2018
SOME SONGS DIDN’T MAKE THE RECORD
In May last year, Scott shared three songs on Soundcloud: “A Man”, the Playboi Carti-featuring “Green and Purple”, and “Butterfly Effect”. In May this year, Scott released another single, “Watch”, featuring Kanye West and Lil Uzi Vert. In the end, “Butterfly Effect” was the only track from this group that made the final cut of Astroworld. A bunch of Travis Scott tracks have leaked over the past 12 months, too, like fan favourite “Too Many Chances”, but these are not on the album either.
THE LYRICS KIND OF DEAL WITH HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH KYLIE JENNER
Travis Scott is obviously a pretty huge deal right now, and with that comes money and power, as he hints at none too subtly in “Stop Trying to Be God”, singing “All three Rollies look alike / After two you get a hook-up price.” But the song itself is a story about staying true to your roots and avoiding a God complex, with Kid Cudi and James Blake singing a handy reminder: “stop tryna be God / stop tryna be God / that's not who you are.”
In the final track on the album, “Coffee Bean”, Scott appears to reference his relationship with girlfriend – and mother to his child – Kylie Jenner, referencing the difficulties of being in the family and the associated limelight. “Your family told you I’m a bad move / Plus I’m already a black dude,” he sings. “Stressing over award shows / She’s stressin’ over her wardrobe / Bought the mansion on foreclose / No matter how many tickets your tour sold.”