August 2nd, 2018, we threw a pop-up listening party for Travis Scott’s Astroworld.
Sir CRKS killed the set and he was just, “messing around” (read up on one of the best DJs in Houston here). We played Astroworld straight-through when it released midnight eastern. If you didn’t show, you’re lame.
August 4th, 2018, Travis threw his own listening party at the Revention Music Center.
This wasn’t a real concert but definitely a glimpse into the Travis Scott experience. Something I had previously planned on witnessing soon.
At this point, I have heard the album in a variety of spaces and I have to say, Travis is one hell of a producer.
The production and feature placements are masterful. Hit-boy, Tame Impala, John Mayer, Frank Ocean, James Blake, Stevie Wonder, The Weeknd, and of course Mike Dean. 21 Savage might’ve had the best rap verse on the whole project while Gunna brought life to Yosemite.
Stop Trying To Be God is my favorite record and one of the best Travis records to date. This track is home to the Stevie Wonder/James Blake collision, and my favorite bar-to-bar transition on the album. “Fuck the money never leave your people behind. It’s never love no matter what you try.”
Travis does the more classic sounding Hiphop production on Wake Up and Coffee Bean justice, which is fresh air, and he also uses Kanye’s flow (or is he the originator?) on Skeletons. “If you take a girl out, do you expect sex? If she take her titties out, do you expect checks? First visit I gave her a pearl necklace. Next visit, Ima need ya girl naked, took a church visit you know cause the world hectic.”
Superstar names on this project aside, the major glue of this album is the Houston Travis claimed inspired it. Astroworld is a rollercoaster ride filled with nuances far and wide, but the Houston in it is what’s winning me over as the best, most cohesive, and thought-out Travis project to date.
Off top, on Stargazing, “sipping purp, feeling like the Barre Baby,” Barre Baby is a song by Houston legend Big Moe. You then jump into Carousel where you get an intro from Dallas legend Big Tuck, famously known for Not A Stain On Me, which is also sampled here. This record, I imagine, was huge all over the South, but especially in this neighboring and rival city. On track 3, we get Drake, who as we all know is being extorted by Houston legend J Prince. Masterful placement. Next, we get into R.I.P. Screw with audio samples from his ABC news story. Track 6, No Bystanders, features a Sheck Wes chant, similar to a Waka Flaka record, but also Three 6 Mafia, Tear Da Club Up. Memphis native Tony Draper and Suave House Records were doing business in the city and buzzing so it’s only natural Three 6 was as well. The South has always been connected. A lot of people outside of Houston are quick to say Cell Therapy by Goodie Mob when hearing 5% tint. They’re not wrong but they’re wrong. This is definitely DJ Screw, Lil KeKe and Big Pokey’s famous 10min Peepin’ In My Window Freestyle. Past 5% Tint, though there are some songs I like, the album sounds more like a BSide, and aside from the names Astrothunder and Houstonfornification, the Houston influence dies a bit.
Swang by Houston legends Trae and Hawk is sampled on this record.
There is one more thing though, and this may be the most Houston part of the whole album. Don Toliver.
Don Toliver’s rise is not a surprise to us in the least. @mjr_dro was the first to catch whiff of the Southwest Houston product when his single, I Gotta, was making viral waves.
Don Toliver’s next single was Diva, and on his Catch22 Radio Show Interview shortly after, he was quite insightful.
Here he speaks on taking time to perfect his craft, not even thinking about making money, but just working on his sound until it was right. Chipping away until he realized, this was really something he could get paid off of. Patience is a virtue.
I’m impressed by young and hungry artists that have the ability to understand this concept. Everyone wants to make money now and some naturally have it while others need to work out the kinks. Be smart for longevity. In this interview, he also says the one artist he wants to work with is Travis Scott.
The reason why @mjr_dro and I were not surprised about his rise is because we heard the results of this strategy as soon as we discovered and explored his music. Don Toliver was able to develop to a point where he sounds effortless on every track he’s on. He carved a signature sound, and almost overnight after we found him, would ink a record deal with Atlantic.
Some work prior to I Gotta. S/o Josh93, check their collab project below.
Just a year ago, Don Toliver was doing local shows with Houston promoter, ByxBreezy. Fast forward, Don Toliver is now not only signed to Atlantic, but is being chained by Travis Scott as a Cactus Jack artist. Speak and grind your dreams to existence.
Even earlier work from Don Toliver, when he was Chase. This was from a project from about 2013 or so. The artist is Southwest Houston MC, SippRogers, produced by Southwest Houston producer, Ray Blaze. Two people we’ll get into in the future (the project above is dope, peep game).
SWAT has a ton of talent, Maxo Kream plus all these cats. Houston has mad talent.
Anyone from the city will tell you Don Toliver’s style exudes Houston. For this alone, his contribution to Astroworld may very well be the most Houston thing of the album. Just a night before Astroworld, his debut project as a signed artist, Donny Womack dropped. Smart move.
Stream Donny Womack. Available on all platforms.
Donny Womack is a solid offering but I’m eager to hear what Don and Travis come up with next. With Astroworld tallying 450k first week, Travis has plateaued into superstar success. Will he be able to produce a superstar as well? Only time will tell but the time is now to capitalize.
Before the deal, Don Toliver was on his grind hard. It is said that him and Josh93 were in NYC at 4AM posted in front of The Breakfast Club hoping to run into someone to give their CD to. Jesse Champion gave us these words. Another Houston artist you will hear about soon.
Give Astroworld and Donny Womack a listen. Show some support if you like it and drop a comment. Below I will leave a link to Sir CRKS‘ chopped and screwed version of Astroworld. It sounds even better screwed, what a crazy concept huh? Enjoy.