Travis Scott sees Astroworld as the real follow-up to Rodeo, having alluded to the recording of Birds in the Trap Sing Brian McKnight as rushed. The Quavo collaboration Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho and appearances on SZA's "Love Galore," Drake's "Portland," and 2 Chainz' "4 AM," among a slew of other tracks, also preceded this third official solo studio full-length, heralded by the single "Watch," conspicuously absent given its direct reference to the demolished Houston attraction the album is titled after. Astroworld undoubtedly feels more like a spectacle than Birds in the Trap did. The sprawling theme park concept, however loose, is a cunning way to rationalize the tactically hospitable variety of producers and featured artists, which numbers somewhere around 50 -- a large supporting cast, even by Scott's standard. A long line of unsurprising guests like the Weeknd, Frank Ocean, and Swae Lee are thrown into play with Stevie Wonder, Philip Bailey, and John Mayer, the latter class of which seems like a bid for Grammy appeal. The beats, contributed by over 30 figures, are neatly sewn together by co-executive producer Mike Dean, who eases the twists and turns taken by the all the slinking rhythms and whirling atmospheres. Scott's voice slithers through the murk, rapping and singing in graphic-as-ever detail about his lifestyle of narcotics, air travel, hotels, and trysts, energized most when boasting about fans "stage divin' out the nosebleeds" and urging all to "fuck the club up." He's clearly not bothered by indulging in thrills reflective of the album's title. The modulation and echo treatments on the vocals, combined with the frequently torpid tempos, nonetheless make Astroworld ideal for being pumped through an (18 and over) amusement park's sound system near closing time, when the challenge of hitting all the rides has started to turn into an overindulgent, overheated chore. Beyond potent highlights "Butterfly Effect," "Sicko Mode," and a levitating tribute to hip-hop pioneer and Houston legend DJ Screw, there's a pair of Scott's most moving and personal cuts in "Coffee Bean" and "Astrothunder." The former, the finale, deviates from the rest of the album with a gently knocking Nineteen85 beat and Scott sounding positively Guru-like as he laments, "Fighting over your seeds, writing over your deeds, sliding over your keys."
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Khalif Brown / Luther Campbell / Harry Casey / Harry Wayne "K.C." Casey / Brytavious Chambers / Mike Dean / Mirsad Dervic / Keith Elam / Kamaal Fareed / Richard Finch / Kevin Gomringer / Tim Gomringer / Aubrey Graham / Osten Harvey / John Edward Hawkins / Bryan Higgins / Chauncey Hollis / James Jackson / Kirk Jones / Chris Martin / Christopher Martin / Ali Shaheed Muhammad / Chylow Parker / Fred Scruggs / Trevor Smith / Malik Taylor / Tyrone Taylor / Christopher Wallace / Jacques Webster / Ozan Yildirim / Cydel Young