Travis Scott's music continues to soar despite going unrecognized at award shows
The Houston rapper, who spent over two years working on the dreamy psychedelic project, is up for 12 awards at Billboard Music Awards 2019, as compared to Cardi B's 21
"There are different kind of films. Some films are straight plots — think of Kendrick Lamar’s 'good kid, m.A.A.d city', that’s a straight narrative. It starts here; it ends here; everything in between is the hero’s journey. Travis [Scott] is more like a David Lynch movie. It’s dreamy; it goes in and out; he might pop up in different places. French New Wave, a Fellini film — in the way the plot is structured, it’s a different kind of film, and we want people to be in and out with us," rapper Travis Scott's long-time A&R Sickamore said in an interview about why 'Astroworld' should win a Grammy.
'Astroworld' wasn't an easy album to make. Scott was still reeling from the effect of the Grammy Awards snubbing his 2016 project 'Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight'.
"A real driver on this album too was when we got snubbed for the Grammys in 2016. That was a real dark day for us. We felt like we really worked hard and we really made a great album with Birds and we just got snubbed. We were like, man, are they not respecting us? That’s when it was like, 'No, y’all got it fucked up.'"
The Grammy snub sent Scott in a creative frenzy, following which he unleashed the masterpiece that was (is) 'Astroworld' in August 2018. "We went back and wanted to make an album that was undeniable. The Grammy snub was probably the best thing that happened to us. It gave us a chip on our shoulder," Sickamore added.
The monster album earned 537,000 equivalent album units in the week which ended on August 9, (according to Neilson Music) opening at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 - this marked his second time leading the list.
'Astroworld' notched three weeks atop tally. The set spawned the smash hit “Sicko Mode,” which garnered the rapper his first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album has earned over 2.5 million equivalent album units, while the songs have garnered more than 2.8 billion on-demand audio streams, in the US alone, according to Nielsen Music.
Having won several Grammy nominations over the years, it looked like 'Astroworld' was going to be the 'it' album. He was nominated for best rap performance ('Sicko Mode'), best rap song ('Sicko Mode'), and best rap album ('Astroworld').
Thank u record academy it’s took a whole 24hrs for it to really hit me. Plus this has Also been my duffle all year. pic.twitter.com/PKvc5HhLw1— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) December 8, 2018
In a heartbreaking turn of events, despite the mammoth success that 'Astroworld' saw during its initial release and its subsequent popularity, Scott didn't win a Grammy for the album - losing it to Bronx rapper Cardi B for her album 'Invasion of Privacy'.
As if that wasn't enough, Cardi B has overshadowed Scott's amusement park-themed dreamy masterpiece with her hustle-driven ‘Invasion of Privacy’ at the Billboard Music Awards 2019 with 21 nominations (despite recent allegations of drugging and robbing men). Scott garnered 12.
While we're not saying that Cardi's nominations aren't deserving, here's why Scott deserves a lot more recognition at the Billboard Music Awards 2019.
'Astroworld' was a mammoth project
Scott has worked through collaborations for a long time now. But 'Astroworld' encapsulates the best of his collaborative moments with the 58-minute long album. Frank Ocean on 'Carousel', Drake in a slow cadence on 'Sicko Mode', Swaa Lee's high tones on 'R.I.P SCREW', 'No Bystanders' with Juice Wrld, 'Skeletons' and 'Wake Up', two back-to-back tracks with The Weeknd, 'NC-17' with 21 Savage, Gunna and Nav on 'Yosemite', Don Toliver's powerful set in 'Can't Say', 'Who? What?' with Quavo and Takeoff, and James Blake and Stevie Wonder in 'Stop Trying to be God' - with 'Astroworld', Scott took his collaborative nature to the next level.
Other guest vocals for 'Astroworld' are Kid Cudi, Philip Bailey, Sheck Wes. Production was handled by multiple producers including Mike Dean, Allen Ritter, Hit-Boy, WondaGurl, Tay Keith, Tame Impala, Frank Dunes, Sonny Digital and Thundercat.
The album was Scott's brainchild
Following the bitter Grammy snub for 'Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight], Scott was completely committed to 'Astroworld'. In fact, the work on 'Astroworld' started even before 'Birds'. In the interview, Scott's A&R said, "'Rodeo' [Scott's debut album] was supposed to go, and then 'Astroworld'. The first album, Rodeo, was kind of his journey from Houston to L.A. This album is like, what do you do after you get the whole world? You go back home. The concept was, this is his journey back to Houston. He wanted this whole thing to be a Houston album; he felt like Houston never really got its just due. He wanted to put it not on the map, but put the light on it."
In an interview, Scott described the album as a continuation of 'Rodeo', which released in 2015. "My whole idea was, if you locked in 'Rodeo', you definitely locked into 'Astroworld'. I'm just finishing the sage I started on my first album. This is supposed to be my second album. I had to go quick, because like I said, I had all these ideas, I just had to get off real quick, but now I'm finally back home with 'Astroworld'."
A dreamy fusion
Essentially a hip-hop album, 'Astroworld' incorporated elements of trap and psychedelic music presenting a futuristic record that stayed with the listener much after the last song got over. 'Stargazing' is described as a 'psychedelic trap' song. 'Coffee Bean', on the other hand, adheres to old school hip-hop with a blissed-out funk guitar - something the artist also experimented with '90210' in 'Rodeo'.
'Coffee Bean' is perhaps the most underrated track of the entire album. A mesmerising deep cello track, Scott strips himself bare in the song - it is his most personal and insightful performance as he ponders why the Kardashians dislike him.
One critique of Scott's 'Astroworld' is the lack of social commentary which thereby reduces the relevancy of the album. But, 'Astroworld' is a progressive album coming from an artist who has bared it all. It is a marvellous record with an energy that is far away from the future.