Album Review // Travis Scott // UTOPIA
I don't think any self-respecting rap fan wants an album like UTOPIA to be bad, especially during a year where it feels like the genre has been in a drought. Travis Scott's long-teased follow-up to ASTROWORLD (and first album since the tragic crowd crush at his festival) is undeniably the biggest hip-hop release of the year so far, but as a star-studded concept album of sorts, does it work? While UTOPIA's varied production makes it look and sound like the kind of landmark album it's trying to be, the star at the center of it unfortunately sounds more hollow than ever.
Built like a Kendrick album, produced like a Kanye album, but lacking the impact either artist has had in their prime, UTOPIA makes Travis Scott sound more like a producer lending his tracks to more interesting featured artists (including Beyonce, 21 Savage, and Westside Gunn) than mainstream hip-hop's new savior. Speaking of Ye, Scott not only repurposes several of the rapper's demos and flows for his own purpose here ("GOD'S COUNTRY," "TELEKINESIS"), but declares his loyalty to the disgraced public figure on "SKITZO." And much like Ye's post-2016 output, the instrumentals often flourish while a boardroom-style writer's room leaves listeners wondering if Scott has an original creative thought in his head.