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Travis Scott’s ‘Utopia’: Album Review



In the identical method that Travis Scott’s debut full-length “Rodeo” polished the sound of his early mixtapes, “Utopia” rejuvenates Travis Scott’s discography. Years within the making, the album expands his sound with out drastically altering it — he’s nonetheless utilizing his MPC and his vocals are simply as distorted as they had been ten years in the past — however now the stakes are exponentially greater. Then, he was a fast-rising Houston rapper — now, he’s a worldwide celebrity whose picture was badly tarnished by the deaths finally yr’s Astroworld catastrophe. As his first launch since then, “Utopia” couldn’t afford to be something however a significant musical development, and he’s delivered.

With 19 full songs over nearly 75 minutes, its options and/or contributors reads like a dream Grammy-albums-of-the-year nominees checklist: Beyonce, Drake, the Weeknd, Unhealthy Bunny, SZA, Kanye West, Future, Pharrell, 21 Savage, Daft Punk’s Man-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Younger Thug, Dave Chappelle, Playboi Carti, Bon Iver, Swae Lee, Child Cudi, Mike Dean, Metro Boomin, James Blake, Noah Goldstein and a pair dozen extra. However the actual development right here is in Scott’s artistry — he’s the only real credited producer on three songs right here — and it reveals a musical versatility and adventurousness that’s uncommon for an artist on his degree.

Having stated that, it’s usually paying homage to his musical mentor and ex-de-facto-brother-in-law, Ye. Scott, together with a quantity the above artists — most notably Child Cudi, the Weeknd and Future — are members of the “808s & Heartbreak” technology, rappers crooning amid synthesizers, fusing digital music with hip-hop. Fifteen years after that album and ten years after Ye’s equally culture-shaking “Yeezus” (which options Scott on three songs), West’s best pupil touches on key moments from his mentor’s discography whereas updating and advancing his personal. The biting screams on “God’s Country” think of Ye’s shrieks on “I Am a God,” the thunderous drum line of “Circus Maximus” mirrors that of “Black Skinhead,” and Cudi even makes an look on the finish of “Looove,” simply as he does on the again half of “Guilt Trip.” And the place West sampled British prog-rock group King Crimson, Scott does the identical with British prog-rock group Mild Large. Like “808s,” “Utopia” advances melodic hip-hop into new terrain.

The place “Astroworld” performs like totally different rides and thrills at an amusement park, “Utopia” is extra imprecise — a lot to its benefit. Scott efficiently challenges himself as he joins the frontlines of East Facet Buffalo, indulging his love for boom-bap by attempting his hand at coke rap, alongside Westside Gunn and the Alchemist on “Lost Forever.” He even calls on Frank Ocean collaborator Buddy Ross to maneuver him towards tender melodies on “My Eyes” and “Parasail,” supported by the Swedish people of Yung Lean and a spoken-word bit from Chappelle.

“Utopia” is at its finest, nonetheless, when Travis fosters the collaborations that he’s cultivated over the course of his profession. Whether or not it’s Playboi Carti unveiling a brand new, Atlanta trap-inspired movement on “Fe!n,” or the Weeknd’s velvety croons on “Circus Maximus,” changing the thick basslines of “Rodeo’s” “Pray 4 Love” with prismatic synthesizers, “Utopia” updates and reimagines his previous. Even the album’s nearer, “Til Further Notice,” continues the low-frequency trip-hop of “Mile High,” James Blake, Metro Boomin and Scott’s final collaboration all collectively on Blake’s 2019 album “Assume Form.”

In a 2021 interview, Selection requested Scott what he’d been listening to and who he’d prefer to work with. He stated Bjork and Houston instrumental alt-rock trio Khruangbin, and stated he’d prefer to work with them, Beyonce, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, British drum-n-bass vet Goldie and warped singer-songwriter King Krule. That musical adventurousness and variety is vividly on show right here. The place “Astroworld” introduced spectacle, “Utopia” brings subtlety and innovation.

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