Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Travis Scott ft. Drake – Sicko Mode

We gave them about a point for each separate song they crammed in here. Or we started at [10] and took one point off for each one. Possibly both.


Tobi Tella: Astroworld‘s success and critical acclaim despite being nothing more than a bunch of meaningless trap bangers is pretty interesting to me. I don’t think “Sicko Mode” is particularly high art, and I think its beat switches are a bit of a cheap gimmick, but honestly, it’s not going for anything more than trap banger, and I think on that it succeeds. Add a Drake feature promoting responsible drug use, and I have something I won’t mind hearing at parties for the whole semester!

Katie Gill: Some songs are accidental Frankensteins: songs that are written like one coherent piece but sound like a patchwork of songs, crammed together to make something coherent. This is a purposeful Frankenstein. Scott is putting together at least three different sounds to create a unique sonic landscape, almost as if to say “just try to match what I’m doing.” Musically, this song is so interesting, jerking you from one style to the next in a perpetual off-kilter mode. Unfortunately, the song can’t escape some dubious lyric choices (Jamba Juice???) and Drake’s perpetual boringness.

Julian Axelrod: Travis Scott is — and I want to put this delicately — a huge dumbass. But somehow, he’s stumbled into a series of minor masterpieces. “Sicko Mode” shouldn’t work, and on the first few listens it doesn’t. The beat changes are artless and arbitrary, the samples are blatant ploys for Southern rap cred, and the verses are nothing to write home about. But after repeated exposure, it starts to seep into the corners of your brain until you find yourself muttering “Like a light!” as you lay in bed at night. (Only Drake can mention taking half a Xanax and passing out for thirteen hours — quite possibly the lamest shit in history — and still make it sound like a flex.) Travis’s kitchen sink bouillabaisse approach is thrilling and dizzying, incorporating Tay Keith, 2 Live Crew, Jamba Juice, lynching and the WNBA into his cockeyed yet cohesive vision. Maybe I’m not giving Travis enough credit; maybe he really is the connective tissue tying this all together. Either way, this dumbass made an anthem that truly sounds like 2018.

Crystal Leww: You know how men are always talking about how things are for ‘females’? Well Travis Scott is music for males at the club. “Sicko Mode” is basically five songs cobbled together — I thought that the DJ just had bad transitions between tracks the first few times I heard this played out live — but like “Antidote” and “Pick Up the Phone,” I’ve come around to just how much this bangs when the DJ drops it.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: This is a multi-suite song that sounds more like a playlist than More Life. While Travis Scott and Drake are no strangers to mid-song beat switches, “Sicko Mode” works because of how sloppy its transitions are and how its overarching mood is sustained despite them. Much ink has been spilled over the rise of shorter rap songs but Travis and Drake are artists who don’t work in that medium, so they circumvent the issue by slapping three vignettes together. In essence, “Sicko Mode” is Rap Caviar in miniature.

Ryo Miyauchi: “Sicko Mode” is a collision of multiple hallucinations and half-memories, and the disintegrating beat cycle already resembles that as texture. Travis Scott may not be technically adept enough to salvage anything profound from the wreckage, but his inability to put down any coherent details of the events or to stay on topic for one second only deepens the deliriousness. It reads as impressionistic, like someone trying to recall the previous night spent black-out drunk, with the story told entirely by secondhand accounts, and the narrator himself half-surprised from what others share about what happened.

Alfred Soto: Drake bestirs himself, perhaps because he claims he took only half a Xan, and the twitchy beat is by far the best on Astroworld. Travis Scott has assembled an epic boast, a tribute to Making It whose Biggie nod situates the thing in history but includes Swae as another hungry up and comer. Its density repels any other comers, including the women they claim as possessions.

Taylor Alatorre: Is nihilist prog rap really a combination that needed to exist? Some say yes. Congrats to Drake for knowing more about the WNBA than I do, and rest in peace, Big Hawk.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Taken as the sum of its individual parts, “Sicko Mode” is a mess — Drake spends most of his verse talking about taking naps on private jets and punning on the word “wet,” which is not ideal, and Scott’s own material is not much better (he references Jamba Juice twice!!!). But somehow, the design of the song — a data dump of beat switches and lyrical sketches and dropped in samples and references — makes it work. Scott ends his final verse of the song’s second part by asking and answering: “Who put this shit together? I’m the glue.” He’s right, to his credit and detriment: his style, production skill, and Rolodex work to smooth out the differences between the song’s sections and turn it into a cohesive banger, but why does it need this much glue in the first place? Also, Swae Lee is here.

Jibril Yassin: Imagine being Travis Scott and loving beat switches so much you compose an entire song out of it, the only problem is you forgot you promised Drake a feature spot and then Swae Lee and a ton of other uncredited bits floating about. Scott tries to let each switch ride out into the bizarro Frankenstein sunset, forgetting there’s nothing to sink into, save for an unstoppable Drake hook entirely about sleeping on flights. To paraphrase that one moment from Black Panther, is Travis really it? Really?

Reader average: [8.66] (3 votes)

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2 Responses to “Travis Scott ft. Drake – Sicko Mode”

  1. couldn’t fit it in my blurb but this is definitely the meathead “all of the lights”

  2. i think it was Jibril who RT’ed the tweet into my TL but *Swae Lee voice* someone said “Sicko Mode” is “Bohemian Rhapsody” for middle-aged white men, and i needed to quit the internet immediately