La Flame’s next album is still in the works following a four-year gap since “ASTROWORLD.”
Few rappers in the game – in history, even – have been able to generate hype quite like Houston’s own Travis Scott. Whether it’s sold-out live experiences, mobs of fans lining up for his McDonald’s meal, or ridiculous resale prices for his sneaker collabs, Travis’s sound and aesthetic have amassed a legion of listeners who, in turn, transformed him a gargantuan pop cultural figure.
It’s no surprise, then, that fans have been foaming at the mouth for any and every bit of information about La Flame’s next move. We’re currently in the longest waiting period between albums in his entire career, as the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed ASTROWORLD dropped four years ago (twice as long as the gap between 2016’s Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight and his 2018 magnum opus). There have been plenty of teasers and interesting revelations about Travis’s next album UTOPIA, and we’ve compiled some of the most important pieces of the puzzle.
Before getting into what the 31-year-old rager has said about the project, it’s important to note that the album rollout took a tragic turn in November 2021 when 10 attendees died and over 300 were injured at his Astroworld Festival in Houston. As such, Travis has been quite silent as far as media and music, and many fans have stopped listening to him as a result.
Whether or not you think Travis is responsible for the tragic event, his Instagram video apology disappointed many who felt it was phoned-in and ingenuine. UTOPIA is now Travis’s chance to address the incident on a larger scale. It will be most interesting to see to what lengths the “Goosebumps” star will go to talk about his thought process following the incident. Will he honor the memory of those lost? Will he avoid the topic entirely? Or will he move his music into a new, less rage-heavy direction?
Only time will tell, but for now, here’s what we know.
What Will It Sound Like?
Talking about UTOPIA is interesting, because while no tracklist has been officially confirmed, a few leaked tracks like “LOST FOREVER” with Westside Gunn and James Blake, “NIAGARA FALLS” with 21 Savage, as well as “BLUNT TALK” with Bryson Tiller, have given fans an idea of what UTOPIA may hold. However, we do have at least one official single that will likely make it on the new album: “FRANCHISE,” Scott’s glitchy banger with Young Thug and M.I.A. We’d also be remiss not to mention “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM,” a hit single he dropped in 2019 that, despite being three years old at this point, might’ve been a part of his plan to promote UTOPIA.
With these newly teased tracks, it seems Travis is pulling apart his psychedelic approach to hyper-energetic trap in two directions: “FRANCHISE” has punchier drums and less use of reverb than most songs in his catalog, whereas “LOST FOREVER” is one of Travis’s most ethereal beats and one of the rare occasions where he uses traditional flows and percussion patterns. Both sound incredibly futuristic which is appropriate for the album’s title, yet not far off from what Travis is known for.
La Flame himself made a few comments on the album’s new sound and what he aims to create. In a June 2021 interview with WWD, he told fans: “I’m in this new album mode where it’s like psychedelic rock. So even just like the field of cactuses and mushrooms, you might get tripped out.”
He previously spoke to i-D Magazine about his excitement over crafting a new sound. “I never tell people this, and I’m probably going to keep it a secret still, but I’m working with some new people and I’m just trying to expand the sound. I’ve been making beats again, rapping on my own beats, just putting everything together and trying to grow it really. That’s been one of the most fun things about working on this album. I’m evolving, collaborating with new people, delivering a whole new sound, a whole new range. I want to make a f**king new sound. I might spend days banging my head against a wall trying to figure it out, but once I do it, it’s like ultimate ecstasy.”
He also provided some insight into the UTOPIA album title in an interview with CR Men.
“Medicine, nursing, being a better person, talking, language, communication—you know, a utopian state. That’s what my album is about. You think utopia is a society where everything is good: health, buildings, architecture—nah. It’s just about proper lines of communication. Because that’s the dystopian sh*t we’re in right now. It’s all hate, hate, hate, and all of that is drawn from what? Miscommunication, non-communication, non-understandable communication, ignorance to communication. ‘I don’t like this person.’ Why? Because somebody told me something to not like this person? Because in history I read to not like this person? Why?”
With all the Houston native has said about UTOPIA, fans might notice there’s one part of the equation missing. Travis announced a prelude mixtape titled DYSTOPIA as a companion piece, akin to how 2014’s Days Before Rodeo gave fans a taste of what was to come on his studio breakout, 2015’s Rodeo. La Flame dropped two singles off of the mixtape: the woozy yet energetic “ESCAPE PLAN” and the elegantly nocturnal “MAFIA” with a surprise feature from J. Cole.
It seems DYSTOPIA may be no more, as the Astroworld Festival in 2021 was meant to promote the project. While these tracks were more standard La Flame fare compared to some more experimental leaks, they were still well received by fans. Audiences are curious to hear what form DYSTOPIA will take: a scrapped project with a few singles, or perhaps, it integrates itself into Travis’s larger vision for his upcoming studio album.
Maybe UTOPIA will be the psych-rock epic that fans have always seen in Travis Scott’s career trajectory, or maybe it’s a continuation of the sounds he crafted on ASTROWORLD. No matter the case, leaks and singles indicate that whatever direction he chooses, we’re sure to find innovative songwriting and production from the “SICKO MODE” hit-maker.
When Will It Drop?
As far as release dates go, Travis confirmed in a recent interview with i-D Magazine that the album will definitely drop in 2022 and spoke on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted his creative process. He said it’s made him “way more productive,” despite the drawbacks of free time that the pandemic brought us all.
Been running of 2days no sleep in the Stu!!!
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) July 1, 2022
“You in the crib, and I got the studio at home and I have the peace to record all day, you know? Obviously like, you lose a little bit by not being able to travel and, you know, just see the earth.”
Travis began teasing UTOPIA as early as July 2020. On July 8th, 2020, he posted a picture of himself with a simple caption: “Utopia.”
Then in August of that year, on the two-year anniversary of ASTROWORLD’s release, Scott released a letter thanking his fans and ending with the note, “See you in Utopia.” He also wrote a letter in October to his DJs and staff thanking them for their hard work and support, promising to see them in Utopia, as well.
Happy Astroversary pic.twitter.com/7JiT35ji72
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) August 4, 2020
When the Astroworld crowd tragedy occurred, Travis became silent on social media out of respect for those affected. It wasn’t until December that he once again added “Utopia” to his Instagram bio, a small step to regear the album’s rollout.
In April 2022, fans spotted billboards around Los Angeles suggesting the album was near completion. While it’s taken longer for UTOPIA to drop than expected, the billboards helped divert the conversation from the Astroworld tragedy to Travis Scott’s next artistic moves.