I’ll be damned. Travis Scott has no right to an album this good. I kid, but while Days Before Rodeo showed promise, and the hypebeasts worked hard presenting the young rapper-producer as akin to a Dr. Dre or Kanye West, when it came time for his debut proper, he delivered the rote, hollow Rodeo, chewing up decent scenery with corny verses and posturing. Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight showed more promise, a pleasant diversion, but it didn’t seem all too likely Scott was destined to drop something truly essential.

Enter Astroworld.

It’s time to reconsider every judgment you have come to in relation to Travis Scott. While he’s long fancied himself an orchestrator, showing flashes of a solid matchmaker on McKnight, Scott has never so readily proven himself the conductor of his own project before.

If you haven’t already heard (time and again), Astroworld is chock full of guests. We mean full of them. Yet, even more so than, say, a 2001, the pairings are inspired, Scott somehow gathering personalities both massive and disparate, then blending them into some ungodly, all-too-palatable mixture. What’s more, the appearances are never overstated, with many A-list names satisfied for their small moment in the grand patchwork, not entirely unlike the stars rallied for backing vocals on Blonde (fittingly, Frank Ocean is among the musical Mission: Impossible cast here).

Yet, whatever you’ve heard, what stands out even more than the guests is the overwhelming sense that Astroworld lives up to its name. There is no other word for it: this is an event. It’s no exaggeration to say that from pressing play until the last note, the listener emerges feeling they’ve been on a ride. The album is a world to itself, endlessly explorable.

Sure, Scott is never going to be a commanding lyricist in his own right (“All that fall-in-love shit, gotta Kevin Hart” grates perhaps the most here), but when he’s the grinning showman, happy to toss his audience from one brazen, colorful (and often explosive) event to the next, it hardly matters.

He also, crucially, proves largely adept at self-editing more than ever before, allowing a natural flow between the album’s drugged-out peaks and numbed, also-drugged-out valleys (take the massive, Drake-boasting ‘Sicko Mode’ flowing seamlessly into slowed-down Houston tribute ‘R.I.P. Screw’).

If Astroworld suffers from any sin, it’s a nearly endless ambition. Much like an actual amusement park, once you’ve had enough sweets and ridden enough of the rides, you inevitably slow down. Naturally, the park hardly notices, and the frazzled world continues around you. By the time you reach the final third of Scott’s latest, you might find yourself ready to give his Roller Coaster Tycoon a break. Nonetheless, whatever state you leave Astroworld in, like the greatest of getaways, it will be ready to thrill again. If anything, Scott seems aware of his jamboree’s potential to tire. Hidden throughout its near hour run-time are subtler gems, such as the restrained, gorgeous ‘Astrothunder’, lying in wait for when the flashiest attractions give way to their softer, even soulful respite. For a one time entry fee, that’s sure bang for your buck.