1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 277

Astroworld, by Travis Scott
Suggested by Jamie Walsh

Sarah and I don’t have children.

I’ve mentioned this before, when reviewing Album 156, the kid-friendly Parry Grip Party Mix. It’s entirely a personal decision made by both of us, with many reasons behind it. One of these reasons is that we both believe we’d be awful parents.

The main thought behind that assertion is bolstered by fear. Children are complicated. I know this is true, because I was one. And being a father is a tricky business. Before I left home at the age of fifteen, largely due to my Dad’s drunken anger, our relationship consisted of not much more than confusion, bickering, and a constant demand from him for me to “turn that sh*t off.”

Apologies if I’m darkening the mood a touch. I don’t mean to. The only reason I mention it is because Astroworld, by Travis Scott, makes me feel like my Dad.

I’ve often asserted that “I like a bit of rap,” but as the albums roll on by, this is becoming patently and demonstrably false. What I actually like is the rap stuff I heard when I was in my teens, my twenties. I like old school Ice Cube and Ice T, basically anything that’s cold, wet and angry. I’ll even stretch to a few of the modern standouts, like Kanye West and Watsky, for reasons I’ll get into below. But the rest of it? The Kendrick Lamarrs, the Frank Oceans, the A$AP Rockies and Kanos and Guvna Bs and Futures and Young Thugs?

  1. ALL. SOUNDS. THE. SAME.

Lazy low-fi backbeats. Mumbled or barked bars slapped silly with autotune. Little or zero actual song structure. Obtuse and arcane lyrics designed to communicate nothing to the listener, or violence and misogyny pertaining to be wit. And always one bloody bloke employed to randomly say “woop” or “yeah” or “blat” or some other gubbins at the end of every other bloody line.

The cardinal sin, I think, is the lack of communicable thought. Here is where Kanye and Watsky differ from the majority, in that they want the things they say to be absorbed. But this? It’s an impenetrable fog of shattered images, verbs and nouns that, to these ears, bears no singular resemblance to an actual language. I try to listen and understand, I really do, but this sound makes me feel so old, so confused and impotent, so damn angry at my comprehension shortcomings that I just want to turn it off and walk away. It makes me wish it was on hard-copy media rather than streamed; I ate an entire pack of shortbread while listening, just to use the wrapper as a surrogate to hurl into the bin in disgust.

A full ninety-five percent of this was incomprehensible, and the other five percent was sexist crap that made me glad I didn’t understand the rest. The only song that had any impact upon me was the first, my default standout STARGAZING, as it dialled up the autotune and vocal effects to a comical level. It sounded like a bunch of drunk modems having an argument about infidelity with a fax machine in a pub car park. “I saw you touching his ribbon cable, boop-boop-buzzz!” … “Leave it, MX-4/BH, he’s not worth it, skreeeeee-bip!”

Astroworld gets 3/10. It’s the rap album that broke me, but it’s not entirely to blame. It’s merely the final straw on the camel’s back that brought me tumbling down.

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