With his latest album, ASTROWORLD, Travis Scott has decidedly entered the post-protégé run of his career, and he’s done it by forging his own creative path entirely contra to the method Kanye West employed during the Wyoming sessions.
As Sickamore, VP of A&R at Interscope, explained to Rolling Stone, Travis’ approach is meticulous to the point of obsessive, and ASTROWORLD is all the better for it.
“With Travis’ process, he’ll do 50 sessions on one song,” Sickamore said. “That’s the trick of great producers like Dr. Dre or Kanye [West]. It’s not that they’re better at making music than other people. It’s that they put more time into it. 10,000 hours into each song. Keep chipping away until the final second. We were mixing the album until Thursday. It came out Thursday night.”
In an era where music feels more rushed than ever, in no small part thanks to his own mentor, it’s refreshing to hear that Travis is more than willing to sink hours into the smallest details to get his projects airtight. This is why ASTROWORLD is one the best albums of 2018.
Greatness can certainly be derived from brief moments of creative inspiration—hit-making Atlanta producer Zaytoven spends no more than 10 minutes making a beat—but as Sickamore alluded to, there's a reason why we're still talking about iconic music from Dr. Dre and Kanye West made over a decade ago. Often, it's not only raw talent, but a willingness to put an incredible amount of time and effort into creating that leads to the best music.
As Sickamore added later in the interview, a healthy amount of experimentation also helps: “You’re just throwing spaghetti at the walls to see what sticks. Then something sticks, and slowly but surely, things start moving and tightening. The record we worked on the longest is ‘Stop Trying to Be God.’ I think that was the oldest record on the album."
Travis Scott’s obvious restraint here is also admirable, as Sickamore revealed that they had over 100 ideas for ASTROWORLD, but their dedication to “what sticks,” over releasing content en masse, allowed the album to be such an immersive and debaucherous trip. Travis' additional willingness to accept feedback and trusted outside opinions surely helped the album come to life, too.
“We had a lot of great minds in Hawaii. Cash from XO [who manages the Weeknd], Brock [another Interscope A&R], a lot of great music people. They gave input about how things flowed.” —Sickamore
Fantastic and resonant music can certainly be born out of isolated creative bursts and speed runs. Look no further than BROCKHAMPTON’s dominating 2017, or Migos crafting hits in 45 minutes or less. But as evidenced by Travis Scott, Dr. Dre, and the old Kanye, more often than not, it’s the perfectionist approach to music that ensures quality reigns supreme.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, we incorrectly identified Sickamore as an A&R at Epic Records. While Travis Scott is signed to Epic, Sickamore is, in fact, the VP of A&R at Interscope.