Houston Native Travis Scott recently came out with his most commercially successful album to date, “Astroworld”. This album was named after the the six flags amusement that was closed and tore down over a decade ago. Like a true artist Travis invokes a strong overall theme that shows through in all of his work related to the album. Whether that be the carnival style album cover, his merch that pays homage to the advertisements of the old theme park, and even the abandoned theme park visuals that kicked off his marketing campaign for the album. However a visual that strays from this theme was his visuals for song “Stop Trying to Be God”. On this track, Scott croons over a soulful instramental while having vocal and instrumental features from artist like James Blake, Kid Cudi, and the Legendary Stevie Wonder.
The video for this song has a clear narrative but it is layered beneath multiple artistic and religious themes. The first shot of the video is a black sheep (possibly representing Scott) leading a pack of white sheep down a path while mouthing the words “Stop trying to be god”. Shortly after we see Scott pop up on screen with a neighborhood as his backdrop, however this neighborhood along with Scott is set ablaze. However instead of dying Scott is held by an Angel as god (Travis Scott in Makeup) sings, “stop trying to be god”. The next scene Travis is looking up at god who his telling him to stop trying to be god, but Travis then turns to reveal that he has hundreds of people following him. He decides to reject gods advice and throws his hands up and the hundreds of people following Scott throw their hands up as well. The next scene Scott begins to baptize people, who begin to party instead of act holy after their baptism. Then there is a transition from this scene to Travis flying over a city on a winged beast. He looks disheveled. Only half of his hair is braided and he is commanding the beast to set the city under him on fire. While this is happening god is looking down on his growing angrier that Scott has ignored his warnings. As a result, god uses laser vision to turn Scott to ashes. The final scenes show a memorial adorned with candles and a cross with people there presumably paying their respects to Scott. The camera then pans over to the angel from earlier, however this time instead of holding Scott she is holding a newborn lamb who ends the video by telling the camera stop trying to be god.
This video borrows ideas and themes from religion, science fiction and fantasy to create a compelling narrative for viewers. It felt like the classic Icarus story, where someone was given a great ability and abused it to the point of destruction. At times this video felt completely surreal, I believe that is one of the reasons why it was so compelling.