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A Review of UTOPIA By Travis Scott

UTOPIA album cover
UTOPIA album cover

On July 28, 2023, Travis Scott released UTOPIA, his first studio album since “Astroworld” in 2018. The album has 19 tracks and a star-studded cast, including Beyonce, Drake, The Weekend, Bad Bunny, and more. While the album still mainly uses the melodic trap style of his previous work, Scott departs from his usual sound at many points, making for a unique listening experience. Most people who enjoy Travis Scott will probably enjoy this album, but even people who aren’t fans of his style will probably find something they like within these songs.

HYAENA

The album starts with an odd voice sampled from British progressive rock band Gentle Giant saying “The situation we are in at this time / Neither a good one, nor is it so unblessed / It can change, it can stay the same / I can say, I can make my claim / Hail, hail, hail”

After this, the music begins with Scott giving one of his best lyrical performances of the album. The song ends with another odd voice that says “Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time.” While this song does a good job of setting the tone for the rest of the album, I wish we got to hear more of the actual song, as while the production and Scott’s rapping were both on point, they only lasted around two minutes.

THANK GOD (feat. KayCyy and Teezo Touchdown)

Unlike the song before it, THANK GOD gets straight to the music. The song starts almost sounding mysterious, with the features delivering a hook that stands out to me as the song’s highlight. Then the beat switches twice, ending with a more triumphant beat that lends itself pretty well to the name of the song.

MODERN JAM (feat. Teezo Touchdown)

The song immediately starts with energetic drums, making the song much more upbeat than the first two, so much so it’s a little jarring. The more poppy sound also makes it stand out on the album. It’s fun and catchy, and Scott and Teezo Touchdown both match the song’s energy well. 

MY EYES (feat. Sampha and Bon Iver)

After the fast pace of MODERN JAM, Scott slows way down on MY EYES. The soothing lo-fi beat at the start almost makes it feel like you’ve just come off the high of the last song. Around the halfway point, the beat becomes a little faster and more intense, as Scott goes from floating over the beat to focused rapid-fire bars. The beat in the first half and Scott’s rapping in the second half are both some of my favorites on the album.

GOD’S COUNTRY 

This song gets closer to the conventional trap sound, with a distorted sample of children singing on the beat that honestly makes it a little creepy. Lyrics like “It ain’t up to you no more / God’s country this is war” along with lines about murdering someone like Ted Bundy don’t make it feel any less ominous. It only lasts for two minutes, which feels appropriate given how it sounds.

SIRENS

“I don’t know. Seems perfect to me”

SIRENS starts off with the one-two punch of the ascendant intro right into the almost chaotic beat. It’s probably the best intro on the album. Despite the unique beat, Scott manages to flow pretty well throughout the song. I also love the outro, as Scott muses that his hotel room could be Utopia, saying “I don’t know. Seems perfect to me”. The outro alone is one of my favorite moments on the album, but the whole song is great.

MELTDOWN (feat. Drake)

Unfortunately, MELTDOWN does not live up to the rest of the album. Drake features on it, and as the song goes on it fits less and less with the rest of the album and sounds more and more like a Drake song that features Travis Scott. This would be fine if Drake stole the show with his verse, but it’s just an average verse with some digs at people he doesn’t mention directly, and he randomly starts whispering his bars at times which bugs me every time I listen. Scott’s verses were better, but not enough to save the song, and the hook was nothing special either.

FE!N (feat. Playboi Carti)

Like MELTDOWN, this one is also a bit closer to Playboi Carti’s sound, but it fits better with the album.. With the Carti-like rage beat, It’s one of the most hype songs on the album, and while Scott verse and the hook are nothing special, they do carry the hype. Unfortunately, Carti almost croaks out his verse, and that unnatural voice brings down what is still a good song for me.

DELRESTO (ECHOES) (feat. Beyonce and Bon Iver)

Beyonce’s singing is on point, and a great addition to this song. The instrumental is bouncy and catchy and the song is almost similar to R&B, which Beyonce fits perfectly. Bon Iver complements her and the song well too.

I KNOW? 

This is one of the simplest songs on the album, but that simplicity is what makes it great. There are no features, the beat itself is very simple, and it doesn’t switch at all. But a song doesn’t need to pull out all sorts of tricks to be good, and Scott delivers with a great beat, hook, and solid flow. In addition, some people don’t like Scott’s use of autotune, but this song features one of the best uses of it I’ve seen from him, and this might be the best he sounds on the album.

TOPIA TWINS (feat. Rob49 and 21 Savage)

Of the more conventional trap songs on this album, this one probably has my favorite beat. It starts as one of the most energetic songs on the album, as Rob49 comes in with a blistering intensity. Along with Rob49, Travis Scott and 21 Savage (with his first of two features) deliver solid verses that contribute to the meaning of the song. 

CIRCUS MAXIMUS (feat. The Weeknd and Swae Lee)

This song’s instrumental is mainly based on the fast drumbeat like MODERN JAM, but it’s also atmospheric in a similar way to MY EYES. The instrumentals and rapping are great, but what steals the show is The Weeknd. He does the hook, and I find the way he just cuts through the song with his voice amazing.

PARASAIL (feat. Yung Lean and Dave Chappelle)

When I said this album had a star-studded cast of features, I didn’t just mean musicians. Dave Chappelle appears at the start and end with a weirdly inspiring speech. The instrumental is very lo-fi and relaxing, similar to the first part of MY EYES, but Travis Scott brings a little more intensity to this song. Yung Lean also makes himself known, with a unique voice that’s unlike anything else on the album and more like something you’d hear from an indie pop act.

SKITZO (feat. Young Thug)

For the first 4 minutes and 50 seconds of this song, it’s just OK. Travis Scott has some good verses, Young Thug has an alright feature, and the beat switches 3 times but none of them are remarkable . Then around the 4:50 mark, the beat switches again, but to something more soulful, and Travis Scott has some pretty deep lines about believing in yourself and making it in the rap industry, which was  a welcome surprise.

LOST FOREVER (feat. Westside Gunn)

In the first half of this song, Travis Scott flows pretty nicely over a soft, tender beat. Then around the halfway point, this changes to a much more grimy beat with Westside Gunn rapping over it, without warning. Both halves are great, but if I didn’t know better I could easily mistake this for two short songs.

LOOOVE (feat. Kid Cudi)

In this track, Travis Scott and Cudi rap about the love they get from their fans over a catchy, funky beat. It’s overall a very fun, happy song, and Cudi’s voice complements Scott very well to end the song. I hear a lot more songs that deal with the downsides of fame, so it’s nice to see a song that looks at the bright side.

K-POP (feat. Bad Bunny and The Weeknd)

I can see why this song was the lead single of the album. It’s poppy and funky but also relaxing, with elements of both Travis Scott and Bad Bunny’s styles, and Bad Bunny and The Weeknd produce the most star power of any track. Everyone had a powerful verse, but The Weeknd steals the show, his voice just cuts through and shines on this beat.

TELEKINESIS (feat. Future and SZA)

This song has become one of my favorites in Travis Scott’s whole discography. It almost sounds magical. I love the way each hook ends on something different. The first hook leads into a hard drop, the second one leads into a great Future verse, and the third one leads into the best part of the song, SZA’s verse. The song keeps building up and by the time she comes in, it sounds like you’re ascending to heaven. It’s an amazing song that just gets better as it goes along.

TIL FURTHER NOTICE (feat. James Blake and 21 Savage)

To end the album, it was going to be hard to top Telekinesis, but this song is a pretty good follow-up. The beat is great, but it mostly just helps the different voices shine through. James Blake does an amazing job on the hook, and 21 Savage has one of his best features. “I thought about giving you the key to my heart, but it’s froze” is probably my favorite line of the whole album. I also like the touch of the last lines in the album,“Til further notice, I’ll keep you posted.”

UTOPIA could be considered Travis Scott’s best work. There are a few misses, but overall Scott does a good job fitting everything together and creating a great atmosphere throughout the album. Scott goes away from his usual trap sound, and adds in elements of multiple different genres and production styles. Despite this, he still sounds like he’s in his element, and creates an album that’s at the same time unique and still definitively his style. The feature game is also mostly on point, with a huge selection of stars and also some  names both shining at different times on the album.

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About the Contributor
Benjamin Tripp, Arts and Entertainment Writer
I like to listen to and talk about music. If you have a recommendation for me, I’d love to check it out. Some other things I enjoy are cooking and playing games.
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