By Sayuri Persotham
Travis Scott’s long-awaited Utopia album dropped on July 28th, sending waves through the music industry. Considering the crushing success of his previous album, Astroworld, Scott had the entire world wondering what was to follow. The question remains: Did he deliver?
Utopia album cover
(Reproduced by www.complex.com)
The star-studded album consists of sixteen songs featuring The Weeknd, Drake, Playboi Carti, and James Blake, among other household names. Right off the bat, Scott’s curation of artists elevates the album’s status. Frankly, everyone who’s anyone had a hand in creating Utopia. The wide array of musicians he collaborates with indicates Scott’s versatility in exploring different music genres. Utopia was five years in the making; Scott took his time working with various artists and perfecting an even balance of new-age music that appeals to today’s audiences while still retaining the timelessness of a classic Travis Scott album. He integrates signature artists’ styles like Future’s effortless drawl and Playboi Carti’s hyped repetition into his own music to form a seamless representation of 21st-century rap. Each song carries a different vibe, from“Hyaena” to “K-Pop”, overall culminating in a well-rounded album.
The album certainly has a different feel to the ever-popular Astroworld. Scott’s ambition to create something new pays off, allowing him to branch off into a completely unique direction. Songs like “Parasail” and “Til Further Notice” explore Scott’s softer side, including similar lyrics like: “Where will you go now?/ Now that you're done with me”. Scott also switches it up with fast-paced, eclectic beats such as “Modern Jam”, paying homage to the 80’s hip-hop genre. The classic hits featuring Scott’s trademark style include “I Know?”, Fe!n”, and “Meltdown”. These tracks have gained mainstream traction while others, including more underground artists such as Yung Lean on “Parasail” are still appreciated by their loyal albeit smaller fanbases.
Arguably, not everyone felt Utopia to be as impactful as the Astroworld album. Many felt his voice was lost amongst other artists, compiled with the fact that a number of tracks simply missed the mark. To those I say, Utopia is intended for Travis Scott fans, not Astroworld fans. The aim of this album was not to create a replica of prior work but rather to produce music authentic to who Travis Scott is as an artist today. Artists grow and evolve over time, and this is showcased in Utopia. In his words: “The career’s more at stake when you in your prime”.
The album itself centers primarily around rap culture, discussing the usual taboo topics. Numerous songs like “Topia Twins” can be seen as ‘mosh-pit music’, holding no further significance. Scott’s style of music ties neatly into the party scene, booming through clubs across the globe. However, certain songs hold a touch of the artist’s personal influence. Scott works in subliminal messaging with certain lyrics. For instance, “Thank God”, highlights Scott’s version of vulnerability as he sings: “Didn’t like the way that shit went down at the awards, I admit it, turned to a beast”. Further, the adorable voice of his five-year-old daughter, Stormi, can be heard on the track. “My Eyes” pays homage to the lives lost at the controversial Astroworld Festival in 2021 as Scott sings: “If they just knew what Scotty would do to jump off the stage and save him a child”. The world remembers vividly the Astroworld tragedy, where 10 fans, including a 9-year-old, lost their lives in the frenzied concert arena. Scott’s decision to include a tribute in Utopia instead of glossing over the catastrophe for fear of harming album sales speaks to his identity as an artist: a sensitive, talented father of two lies behind the party facade.
Travis Scott & daughter, Stormi
(Reproduced by: www.People.com)
The entire album is a subtle nod towards Scott’s long-time friend and mentor, Kanye West, another pioneer of the rap industry - controversies aside. West is credited with a few songs, including “Thank God”, “God’s Country” and “Telekinesis”. Many of the tracks’ beats are reminiscent of Ye’s earlier work, thereby illustrating his heavy influence on Scott’s latest music. Fundamentally, Utopia appears to follow in the footsteps of West’s idiosyncratic musical style.
In essence, Scott reinvented the conventional ideals of new-age rap through the release of Utopia. The proof is in the pudding: Utopia topped the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, ranking number one on the list for a month. Whilst not all agree with the album’s success, Utopia undoubtedly provokes conversation. By managing to incorporate artists spanning almost every genre of music, could Scott be paving the way for new experimental hip-hop artists in a bland but appreciated genre? Only time will indicate, keeping in mind a notable characteristic of all Travis Scott albums is replayability, with many hits from Astroworld gaining popularity over time instead of on their first listen. Will Utopia follow suit or simply disappear into the masses of the rap industry?