Written by Jeff Williams | @jeffaraoh
You don’t listen to a Travis Scott album. You visualize it. You experience it. The first track always sets the stage. It’s the entrance and when you walk in, the door gently closes behind you. The song is captivating, it’s a cunning set up.
So much so, you don’t realize you’re now trapped in a new realm. For this new album, Stargazing traps you into Astroworld.
“They tore down ‘AstroWorld’ to build more apartment space,” Scott said in 2017. “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.”
So basically, from his mouth, this album is about destruction and…gentrification? What happens when the powers that be, strip resources away from a community, specifically, a resource that provided youth hope and excitement?
We are left to wonder, but by the end of the album, maybe we have our answer.
But that’s not what this is about….. like multiple tracks on his album, we’re headed in an entirely different direction.
What is Travis Scott? Is he a rapper? Is he a rock star? How do you classify his music? Is it important to have an answer?
In a live interview at ShowStudio a year ago, he said that “[rock] is too dark, and hip-hop is too conscious. I’m further out there.”
It’s clear to me that La Flame isn’t interested in labels or boundaries, but if I had to answer these questions, I’d say he’s Afrofuturism Hip Hop. Rap is the new rock and roll and if we are honest, ironically speaking, we created Rock Therefore, rock and roll is a subset of black music just like Rap.
Why Afrofuturism Hip-Hop? Because his production and the structure of his songs exist outside of the known music world. His instrumentation is quite spacey. When you listen to a song like Stargazing attentively, you can visualize astroids, shooting stars, and planets. If you play a song from Owl Pharaoh back in 2013, you’d think it was released in 2018. And as far as the hip-hop goes, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not, his music tends to be fairly conscious. Not politically, but certainly introspective. He makes music that promotes a lifestyle, but it always seems to be inspired by what he’s feeling or facing at the moment. “Birds in the Trap Sing Brian McKnight” was inspired by his frustrations with feeling trapped due to his creative projects being delayed. Which brings us back to Astroworld, which was an ode to his hometown and the people who were left without a vital resource within their community.