The ASTROWORLD follow-up is filled with psychedelic hip-hop that is ambitious, eclectic, and exciting.
UTOPIA’s opener “HYAENA” begins with a robotic vocal sample that is both inviting and confusing. What follows is Travis Scott dominating over a knocking drum break and an addictive harpsichord loop, making for a song that is frantic yet exciting. The track is unlike most of Scott’s existing catalogue, and even sticks out from what follows on the album.
UTOPIA stands out due to its unique instrumental palette, one that spans different subgenres, sounds, and moods. You can find standard hip-hop/trap production on cuts like “MELTDOWN,” “I KNOW ?,” and “TOPIA TWINS.” “SIRENS” contains triumphant drums reminiscent of Brazilian funk, while “DELRESTO (ECHOES),” “LOOOVE,” and “K-POP” are danceable tracks influenced by house music, dancehall, and Afrobeats.
The production on the album also features synth passages (courtesy of Mike Dean), beat switches, and melodic intricacies that elevate the tracks and allow them to evolve as they progress. Key examples are the beat switch-up on “THANK GOD” and the glimmering synths after the hook on “FE!N.”
Kanye West’s influence is another instrumental force behind the album’s sound. Scott’s flows on “MODERN JAM” are reminiscent of Yeezus cuts “On Sight” and “I Am a God,” whereas the instrumental and delivery on “CIRCUS MAXIMUS” are similar to “Black Skinhead.” Meanwhile, “THANK GOD,” “GOD’S COUNTRY,” and “TELEKINESIS” are finished versions of demos recorded during the 2020-21 sessions for Ye’s Donda album.
UTOPIA also features noteworthy tracks characterized by an ambient and mellow sound like “TELEKINESIS” and “MY EYES.”. The latter is a standout that begins with a slow, lullaby-like tune before accelerating into a starry trap beat so ethereal it could be the Rainbow Road theme. The track also showcases Scott’s ability to give captivating performances, as he croons softly in the first half and raps with a nonstop, speedy delivery for over a minute once the beat switches.
For most of his rapping on the album, Scott finds pockets within the instrumentals that complement the beats and sticks to them, resulting in verses and hooks that are engaging and easy to follow. “I KNOW ?” and “TOPIA TWINS” are a back-to-back offering of catchy, earworm choruses—some of the record’s best.
Much like its predecessors, UTOPIA has a hefty list of features. Standouts include Playboi Carti debuting a new deep voice on “FE!N,” Teezo Touchdown’s bold and eccentric belting on “MODERN JAM,” and SZA’s angelic entrance onto the already heavenly “TELEKINESIS.”
Travis Scott has brought on everyone from A-listers to newcomers and underground legends, including the likes of Drake, Beyoncé, The Weeknd, 21 Savage, Bad Bunny, Future, Westside Gunn, Rob49, Yung Lean, and more into one lineup. With all the features hidden before release, the first listen comes as a pleasant surprise.
With UTOPIA, Travis Scott defies the expectations of what this ideal reality can be, delivering an album filled with dark, varied production, stylistic switch-ups, and high-profile surprise guests hiding around every corner. It is fitting that the outro “TILL FURTHER NOTICE” is a perfect marriage of these elements: verses from Travis Scott and 21 Savage, a dark Metro Boomin beat, and a haunting James Blake feature creating a beautifully eerie, atmospheric, and star-studded track.
Trial Track: “MY EYES”