2019 American Music Awards

8 Best Features on Travis Scott's 'Astroworld': Critic's Take

After nearly a two-year wait, Travis Scott has finally released his highly anticipated third studio album, Astroworld. Not much was known about the album other than snippets of “STARGAZING” and “5% TINT” played at several festivals this year and Travis moving to Hawaii to finish the album with Mike Dean, Sonny Digital, Gunna and more. Within a week, Travis announced the release date for Astroworld on his Twitter account, dropped a trippy album trailer and had several giant inflatable gold heads, in the likeness of the Houston rapper, placed at various locations around the country. The reveal of the carnival-inspired cover art a few days later was the icing on the cake as fans couldn’t wait for the impending release.

On Friday, Scott trounced the competition with his eclectic sounds and starry track list. For starters, La Flame enlisted Drake, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Stevie Wonder and an assortment of heavyweight producers such as Frank Dukes and Tay Keith to help compile his best project to date. With Scott’s eyes on yet another No. 1 album, Billboard takes a look at eight of the album’s best features.

Check them out below:

8. Gunna - “YOSEMITE”

Gunna’s syrupy flows and contagious melodies helped him find a home on Scott’s standout track “YOSEMITE.” On the track, Gunna gives nods to some of his favorite brands including Yves Saint-Laurent and Chanel while flexing about the jewelry and racks he collects. He flows effortlessly through the chords of a guitar-laden beat rapping “Five-hundred shells for the drip I invest/ I'm the boss, man, I keep cash in the desk/ Know the coupe fast when they end with a S.”

7. Juice WRLD - “NO BYSTANDERS”

Juice WRLD, the genre-bending rapper from Chicago, has been getting quite the buzz as of late thanks to his alternative rock/modern hip-hop-inspired album Goodbye & Good Riddance. Juice is known to discuss the feelings of sadness and rage and how he copes with it by using a string of drugs. On “NO BYSTANDERS,” Juice WRLD discusses the dangerous cycle of partying and drug use. The intro is brief but it lays the foundation for Travis and Sheck to blaze the mic.

6. The Weeknd - “WAKE UP”

With this being Abel’s third appearance on a Travis Scott album including Rodeo’s “Pray 4 Love” and Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight’s “wonderful,” The Weeknd provides a melodic chorus and a haunting verse about yearning for the one he loves. In his verse, The Weeknd proves his knack for making his listeners feel like their missing their love singing “You decide if I live or die/When you're close, I'm alive, I can feel the sky/I just want your body close to me (oh).”

5. Takeoff - “WHO? WHAT?”

After appearing on Travis and Quavo’s Huncho Jack Jack Huncho, Takeoff steals the spotlight again on “WHO? WHAT?” featuring his fellow Migo, Quavo. Takeoff’s flow is as precise and as dizzying as ever but ends before we’re ready for him to bow out. Takeoff pays homage to his only officially released single “Intruder,” in the first bar, but leaves fans with a heater, rapping, “Pull up with the sticks I'm makin' them cuddle up this not a movie.”

4. 21 Savage - “NC-17”

Playing off the song title that pays tribute to the American film rating system, Travis Scott and 21 Savage deliver some of the most heavily explicit lyrics on the album. 21 is right at home on the haunting theme-park-ride-inspired beat as he paints a vivid picture of the ease of switching girls at will and warning his foes he’s ready for whatever. 21 ends the verse with one of the more screwface-inducing bars, rapping, “Your bitch gave the kid cudi, but I’m not signed to 'Ye (on God)/ I nutted on her cheek her new nickname is Baby Face (21).”

3. Don Toliver - “Can’t Say”

Being the only unknown artist on the project, Don Toliver had the cards stacked against him standing alongside the renowned likes of Drake, Swae Lee and Frank Ocean. But the rapper/crooner out of Houston held his own delivering a hypnotic chorus and verse on the adventures of weed and alcohol and the women that come along with it. With one of the scene-stealers on the album and his very own project, Donny Womack, releasing the day before Astroworld, the hip-hop world is taking notice.

2. Drake - “Sicko Mode”

After collaborating on “Company” and “Portland,” Drake and Travis teamed up once again on “Sicko Mode.” The track is a reference to the beast mode that Travis and Drake tap in to in comparison to the modes of their much weaker competition. The song is broken up into different three parts with Drake appearing on part one and three. But his verse on part three is the one that stands out as he proves his lyrical dominance over the Tay Keith-produced beat. Thanks to Drake and a solid feature from Swae Lee, Travis has a heater on his hands.

1. Frank Ocean - “Carousel”

The second track off Travis Scott’s third studio album features Frank Ocean in top form as he sings about being under the influence of certain drugs. Since the start of '18, Frank has been giving fans loosies (“Moon River”) and guest features (A$AP Rocky’s “Purity), which has certainly helped reinsert himself as a big-name artist in the genre. On “Carousel,” Frank weaves his way through the hook and his own verse making the chaotic-sounding record smoother with his ever-changing voice. 

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