“UTOPIA is wherever you are…”
With five different album covers, totems in Texas, an A-24 film titled “CIRCUS MAXIMUS” and hidden features (in pure Travis fashion), the Cactus Jack head honcho shared his fifth studio album on Friday (July 28) to eager and overwhelming acclaim.
Helping to produce 16 of 19 tracks on the record — alongside the expert masterings of Mike Dean — the album features tucked-away guests such as Drake, The Weeknd, Playboi Carti, Young Thug, Westside Gunn, Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Future, SZA, James Blake, Teezo Touchdown, KayCyy, Sampha and more. The only Cactus Jack artist is Sheck Wes, as SoFaygo and Don Toliver are nowhere to be found on UTOPIA.
The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. scoring 496,000 first-week units, per Hits Daily Double. UTOPIA is Scott’s third No. 1 album (Birds, Astro, UTOPIA) and second highest-sales week trailing ASTROWORLD (which sold 538,000 first-week units in 2018). This will also mark the second hip-hop album to go No. 1 on 2023, following Lil Uzi Vert’s PINK TAPE. However, UTOPIA is the highest-selling rap album of 2023.
Playboi Carti appears on the track “FE!N” as Drake comes through for a menacing verse on “MELTDOWN.” Early highlights such as “TELEKINESIS,” “SKITZO,” “TIL FURTHER NOTICE” and others all wash away Scott’s rather sub-par feature outings as of late — seemingly keeping his sauce all for himself on UTOPIA. Among new wave talent, KayCyy and Teezo Touchdown put forth transporting efforts on “THANK U” and “MODERN JAM.”
The long-teased “GOD’s COUNTRY” and “LOST FOREVER,” which he previewed throughout the past year and during his headlining set at Rolling Loud Miami, are hallmarks of the LP, as Scott’s experimental and rather futuristic production choices model his mentor Kanye West. “I’m loyal bitch, I got Ye over Biden,” he raps on “SKITZO,” displaying West’s direct influence on his sound — especially with UTOPIA’s eclectic mix of psychedelic trap. Ye has production credits on “GOD’s COUNTRY,” “THANK GOD” and “TELEKINESIS,” as Metro Boomin, The Alchemist, Mike Dean, BNYX and more all aided in the LP’s creation.
The album itself is experimentally versatile and cinematic. However, Scott’s performances are rather hollow — crafting this grandiose, expansive soundscape that fails to unearth any sort of personality between tired and teeth-gritting lines. In other words, it sounds amazing. The energy is off-the-charts… But what is Scott actually saying? There’s little to no reflection nor immersive, personal anecdotes in the five years since we heard him last. Most of the features outweigh Scott, as his bloated use of other voices move UTOPIA’s needle forward and fuels the perspective of Trav’s reliance on guest spots. Yet, his ability to facilitate an out-of-body body of work is second to none — all stemming from his immaculate ear and gifted chops as a producer. It’s more apparent than ever that “Travis, the curator” and “Travis, the rapper” remain to be two drastically different sides of the same coin. The former is iconic. The latter is quite forgettable.
Amid its release, Scott’s album launch event at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt has since been cancelled, per a release from Live Nation. The Cactus Jack rapper planned to debut the record during his grandiose Pyramid show on July 28, however, Egyptian authorities prevented Scott and Live Nation from preparing the venue. The album launch event, which is now titled “UTOPIA WORLD,” will take place in Pompeii, Italy sometime soon.
Say what you want about Travis Scott, but his ability to build worlds around his catalog are truly second to none. Welcome to UTOPIA.
UTOPIA is real…
During his headlining set at Rolling Loud Miami, UTOPIA is confirmed to drop on Friday, July 28 — also revealing a film that will coincide the long-awaited LP. “I’m dropping a movie with my album on Friday,” he said, unveiling its release date (July 28) on the stage screens.
The film, “CIRCUS MAXIMUS,” was teased with a futuristic trailer during Scott’s show on Saturday (July 22), which featured performances of “God’s Country,” “Lost Forever” and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lucky fan.
Scott reasserted the album’s release on July 25, taking to Twitter to share the official “CIRCUS MAXIMUS” trailer and three of UTOPIA’s album covers. Scott unveiled a new cover every day this past week. The official cover dropped on Thursday.
In the build-up to its release, Scott recruited star-studded collaborators in The Weeknd and Bad Bunny for “KPOP” (July 21) — UTOPIA’s lead offering and Travis’ first single since 2021’s DYSTOPIA and “Down In Atlanta” with Pharrell. With production from BNYX, Boi-1da, Illangelo and Jahaan Sweet, “KPOP” incites a summery dance anthem arm-in-arm with the current kings of pop. Its music video not only portrays each superstar in their respective bag, but teased a UTOPIA stadium tour planned for later this year.
Scott also teased the album on Instagram with Egyptian-themed artwork and various clips of him in the studio. One includes insight from the prolific Rick Rubin, as each city (Houston, Miraval and Malibu) contains footage of Scott fine-tuning the project with Michael Jordan among other celebrity cameos.
‘TOPIA took some time…
It’s been five years… FIVE since the Houston icon dropped a full-length LP. Scott initially incited hype with a briefcase clad with a “UTOPIA” inscription on its side, along with various billboards and other promotional means, such as his feature in Pin-Up magazine. The briefcase would be in the hands of stars like The Weeknd, Drake and even social media celebrities like Kai Cenat and Matan Even.
“With every album I live in these worlds in my mind — I’m trying to show people experiences where utopian things can exist, and you can enjoy yourself and have a good time. They can create energy that spews out magical things — new cures, new buildings, new avenues for people to move forward. People need to see that utopia is real.”Travis Scott, Pin-Up Magazine
In May, Page Six reported that superstar celebrities like Tom Brady, Kevin Durant, Lebron James as well as the Houston Astros heard the record in its pre-final master. Scott also entered a joint venture with Tennis pro John McEnroe to design a new sneaker for Nike, which surrounded the “crazy rollout” he sparked for UTOPIA.
“[Travis] plans to continue his crazy rollout with more disruptive events and preview the album for various legends across multiple industries.” The album was previously reported to arrive in June, but arrived a month later due to logistical issues.
Prior to this, longtime collaborator Mike Dean took to Instagram to showcase his work on UTOPIA, which was quickly deleted from his feed. Dean has worked on every Travis Scott album since 2015’s Rodeo, saying to us in his OGM exclusive interview that Scott is “getting back to” the sonic stylings found on his debut project Owl Pharoh. Scott himself even admits UTOPIA reminds him of Owl Pharoh and Rodeo.
Following appearances at Super Bowl LVII and NBA All-Star Weekend, Scott declared once projects from Cactus Jack signees (Don Toliver, SoFaygo, Sheck Wes) dropped, then UTOPIA would arrive. “Sheck Wes is on the way. We got SoFaygo putting a ‘lil EP out — that’s on the way. And right after that, Utopia,” he said. “We came here with that message, and I can’t wait for these motherf—s to drop this shit.” SoFaygo and Don Toliver both dropped, now it’s Jack’s turn.
Waiting for UTOPIA…
Fresh off guest verses on Lil Uzi Vert’s PINK TAPE hit “Aye,” Metro Boomin’s HEROES & VILLAINS as well as Drake and 21 Savage’s Her Loss (“Pussy & Millions”), Scott initially previewed a slew of Utopia tracks during his “Road To Utopia” residency at Zouk Nightclub in Las Vegas last September. He previewed songs featuring Kid Cudi, Future, Lil Uzi Vert and more — also debuting unreleased cuts in “God’s Country” and “Lost Forever” at his O2 Arena shows in London.
UTOPIA’s first rollout was initially halted by the tragedy at Astroworld Festival in late 2021. Scott planned to drop the project following the release of his two-pack “ESCAPE PLAN” and “MAFIA,” however, Travis opted for a hiatus — handling the many lawsuits that followed Astroworld’s events.
La Flame has focused on finishing UTOPIA since last August — taking to Twitter to say “I’ll be back when it’s album time.” Settling back into a groove following Astroworld Fest, his upcoming album is all about “proper lines of communication,” he said to CR Fashion in 2021. Scott also spoke on the album with WWD last June following the Dior-Cactus Jack Summer 2022 Men’s Show.
“I’m in this new album mode of like psychedelic rock,” he said. “So even just like the field of cactuses and mushrooms, you might get tripped out.”
Listen to UTOPIA below!