Travis Scott is a one-man roller coaster
It was good to be Travis Scott in 2018. The Houston-born rapper had a daughter with Kylie Jenner, received endless accolades for his Astroworld album and corresponding tour, and scored his first No. 1 single with Drake-guesting “Sicko.”
Scott started his musical journey making mixtapes at home as a teenager. The son of a drummer dad, making beats was natural for him, and by his late teens he was couch surfing in Manhattan trying to make connections. He turned out to be a master networker, and had put out two mix tapes chock-full of guest MCs before releasing his first official full-length album, Rodeo, in 2015. Scott’s profile ascended when he met Kayne West and became part of West’s Very Good Beats roster of producers. Scott’s album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, featuring Kendrick Lamar on “Goosebumps,” debuted at No. 1 upon its release in 2016. Lead single “Pick Up the Phone” was a collaboration with Young Thug that Quavo from Migos guested on, which led to Scott and Quavo forming Huncho Jack for a full-length release that reached No. 3. By the time Astroworld was released in August, Scott was a superstar.
The self-described “rager” received high praise in reviews of the first leg of his Astroworld: Wish You Were Here Tour. The stage is designed in homage to an amusement park in Houston that Scott enjoyed as a child before it was demolished. Scott wanted to create the sense of magic and wonder he felt at Astroworld, complete with an inverted roller coaster that Scott is strapped to during the show (along with a few lucky fans).
Turbulence affected Scott’s career last month when he was confirmed to appear at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show with Maroon 5, three days before his concert in Las Vegas. A conversation between Scott and Colin Kaepernick led to a dispute over whether Kaepernick condoned Scott’s decision to perform in the wake of the NFL making a $500,000 charitable donation. Entertainers such as Cardi B declined to appear at the traditionally unpaid, ultimate visibility gig in protest of Kaepernick’s unsigned status, although there’s no shortage of rappers collecting fees for private “Big Game” parties.
There’s no predicting how crossing a virtual picket line vociferously sentineled by Black Twitter will affect Scott’s career long-term. In the meantime, by Sunday evening he’ll know if the psychedelic trap track won Grammys for Best Rap Performance and Best Song, as well as whether Astroworld took top honors as Best Rap Album. He’s so on top that shutdown-weary TSA agents were playing “Sicko” in airports much to the delight or chagrin of airline passengers, depending on how they feel about profanity-laced lyrics.
Scott is a one-man roller coaster with a preternatural ability to stoke audiences into crowd-surfing frenzies. Now he needs to find out if he can ride his first major wave of controversy without a catastrophic wipeout.
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