A Travis Scott album is never just about Travis Scott. That means when you fire up your streaming service of choice and listen through Astroworld, you’re presented with a bunch of all caps titles without any features listed, even though there are plenty. Spoiler alert: Drake is on here, and so is Frank Ocean, and also John Mayer (why not?).
Travis Scott, the human being, is one person. But the Travis Scott that manifests on his album is more of a loose, open-ended collective of voices, vocal effects, and reverence for hip-hop’s not-so-distant past. Nowhere is that more apparent than on “5% Tint,” a song that uses the piano loop from Goodie Mob’s all-time classic “Cell Therapy” for no specific reason other than that it is very good, and then incorporates the high-pitched vocal run from Kanye West’s “Wolves.”
One of the great things about rap is that it innovates so rapidly that by the time you’ve got a handle on one style, everyone’s already moved on to something else. But on “5% Tint,” Scott and producer FKi 1st seem more than happy to stick to the past. Rock music has existed for so long that there are people making classic rock who weren’t around when classic rock was new. In his own way, Travis Scott is doing that too. The question doesn’t really seem to be “Is he adding anything new to the conversation?” so much as it is “Does he even need to anymore?”