Sicko Mode
by Travis Scott (featuring Drake & Swae Lee)

Album: Astroworld (2017)
Charted: 9 1
Play Video


  • Travis Scott is joined on this jittery, hectic cut by Drake and Swae Lee. The Houston rapper recruited a quartet of producers (Hit-Boy, OZ, Cubeatz, and Tay Keith) for the song, which features three abrupt beat change-ups. The track starts off with Drake ad-libbing over an organ groove, but just as he's getting going, The OVO MC announces mid-verse he's passing the baton to Scott. La Flame switches up the beat and goes a completely different route.

    Gone on you with the pick and roll
    Young La Flame, he in sicko mode

    "Sicko," or "6icko", is a term used to describe Drake's friends. It is derived from his hometown Toronto's area codes, 416 and 647, which is often used by OVO Crew members in their songs. Drake previously referred to himself as a "sicko" on his 2016 single "Summer Sixteen". However, in this instance Drake uses it as a reference to the beast mode that he and Travis tap in to in comparison to the weaker modes of their competition.

    Travis Scott spends the next few minutes rapping a couple of verses aided by Swae Lee over a hard and funky instrumental. Drake eventually returns, following another beat change, to complete what he started, before Scott polishes off the track with some concluding rhymes.
  • This is the third collaboration between Travis Scott and Drake. They first worked together on Drizzy's 2015 If You're Reading This It's Too Late track "Company." Two years later Drake recruited Scott again for his More Life song "Portland."

    "Sicko Mode" also represents the third collaboration between Travis Scott and Swae Lee. They first worked together on La Flame's 2015 Rodeo track "Nightcrawler". Three years later, Scott jumped on "Close" a cut from Rae Sremmurd's, SR3MM album.
  • Throughout Astroworld, there are tributes to artists from Travis Scott's place of birth. During this song's bridge, there are sampled vocals from the late Big Hawk, who was shot and killed in Houston in 2006.
  • The song features a couple of other samples. The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Gimme The Loot" is used on the second verse, while a line from Miami artist Luke's 1991 song "I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown)," is sampled right after Scott raps "In the 305 bitches treat me like I'm Uncle Luke."
  • Drake turned in his contribution at the very last moment. It came in at 2 a.m. on the day Astroworld was released, which might explain why the beat changes abruptly after Drake suddenly stops halfway through the opening verse.
  • Travis Scott enlisted American DJ and producer Skrillex to provide a remix. The EDM savant adds more bass, trap drums, and gun shots creating an extra dimension to the already complex tune.

    "For me, it's rare when I do a remix, but it's rarer when I'm in love with certain elements," Skrillex told Billboard. "It's a tough song to remix you know? There's already three different songs in one song and then me putting a couple of extra layers on it, is all about doing it justice in my own eyes, ultimately."
  • After 17 weeks in the Hot 100 Top 10, the song finally climbed to #1. Its elevation was helped by the Skrillex Remix bundle which included a limited edition tie-dyed T-shirt.
  • It may be unusual for a three-part song to top the Hot 100, but it's not totally without precedent. In 1973, Paul McCartney combined pieces of three different songs for his five-minute Wings mini-epic "Band On The Run," which climbed to #1 the following year.
  • Scott performed this at the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show, where he shared the stage with Maroon 5. His performance was preceded by a clip from the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants where the titular sponge performs the song "Sweet Victory" from a 2001 episode. The clip was a tribute to the show's creator Stephen Hillenburg, who passed away two months earlier.
  • The song was the first ever hip-hop hit to spend at least 30 weeks in the top 10 of the Hot 100.
  • Hit-Boy made his part of the track the night Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight came out. That was back in September 2016 and he had to hold onto his instrumentation for a couple of years before it was finally used in this song.
  • There are a staggering 30 credited writers on this song. This is in part because of the several samples of other tracks; their writers receive a mandatory credit in this era of copyright litigation.


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

16 Songs With a Heartbeat

16 Songs With a HeartbeatSong Writing

We've heard of artists putting their hearts into their music, but some take it literally.

Al Kooper

Al KooperSongwriter Interviews

Kooper produced Lynyrd Skynyrd, played with Dylan and the Stones, and formed BS&T.

Linda Perry

Linda PerrySongwriter Interviews

Songwriting Hall of Famer Linda Perry talks about her songs "What's Up" and "Beautiful," her songwriting process, and her move into film music.

Joe Jackson

Joe JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Joe talks about the challenges of of making a Duke Ellington tribute album, and tells the stories behind some of his hits.

Best Band Logos

Best Band LogosSong Writing

Queen, Phish and The Stones are among our picks for the best band logos. Here are their histories and a design analysis from an expert.

Rush: Album by Album - A Conversation With Martin Popoff

Rush: Album by Album - A Conversation With Martin PopoffSong Writing

A talk with Martin Popoff about his latest book on Rush and how he assessed the thousands of albums he reviewed.