Travis Scott comes back to the seven cities this week, this time to Portsmouth Pavilion on May 4th, with more fame and a new record, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.”
special thanks to our promotional partner on this post, Portsmouth Pavilion
If you caught Scott at Z104’s Shaggfest last May, you’d know this disarray is warranted. Bass bumped all the way to the lawn as Scott lit up the stage with bangers from his debut record, “Rodeo.” He heartfeltly hopped around the stage in a shirtless, sweaty sheen. Equipped solely with a flashy backdrop and light layer of autotune, Scott ushered into the stadium fresh energy the newly reunited G-Unit failed to garner before him. Scott’s excessive energy made hypeman veteran Diplo’s follow up look disingenuous, as if he simply emerged on the stage and pressed play, solemnly standing there as a Window’s word art screensaver projected behind him.
Scott, a fresh face and self-admitted “nerd cornball” who started his career copying his favorite rapper’s beats, stole the show with his signature style.
While Travis Scott may be the facade of Texas native Jacques Webster, the energy he exudes on stage is as real as it gets. “This stage is sacred… That’s when I’m at peace,” he told Complex in 2015, “That’s where you got 2,000 of your people. You go out to your village and stand up on top of a house and you like, ‘WE ABOUT TO CHANGE THE WORLD!’”
Although only 25, Scott has been in the backdrop of the industry for nearly a decade. He started drumming at the age of 3, learning early on the significance of beat. In his early teens, Scott’s father got him studio equipment, which Scott used to mimic other artists to learn the ropes and set himself apart. “I always made music to make it like other people,” he told Hot 97 last year, “when I grew up, I said ‘okay — now you gotta translate it into your own sound.’” His love of hip hop and heavy metal meshed to inform his brash brand of rap.
After struggling for years going cross-country to launch his own career, he was met with dead ends and stalled projects. Scott’s move to the forefront truly began in 2012, when Kanye West tapped him to help with G.O.O.D. Music and picked up his debut mixtape, “Owl Pharaoh.” He threw down such fire features that West went back to Scott to aid in producing the infamous “Yeezus.”
Despite working closely with some of the biggest names in hip hop such as West, T.I., and Jay Z, Scott said he was most starstruck to work with his idol Kid Cudi. “There would be no Travi$ Scott if it wasn’t for him,” he told MTV News, admitting he shed tears when Mescudi surprised him at the studio while working on “Rodeo.” His respect for fandom and unabashed admiration goes both ways, telling Complex in 2015, “I’d give my kidney up [for my fans].”
“My vision was being ahead of what’s going on—like two, three years ahead,” he told Fader in 2013. “Rodeo” predicted a future where trap would rule, and helped immensely in writing the rulebook. Hyperbolic amounts of autotune, sparkling synth beats, and blown out bass ushered in an era of hip hop that didn’t take itself too serious, but still showcased plenty of production chops.
With “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight,” Scott builds his enigmatic image, this time honing in on analysis and veiled critiques of rap lifestyle that lack too-personal storytelling.“My music isn’t rappity-rap-rap-rap. I base my music off of lifestyle and emotion—that’s why my music has a lot of chords, even if it’s a hard-ass joint,” Scott told Complex in 2015, explaining he wants to make music that’s straightforward and not over thought. With each release, his contributions to rap’s evolution is solidified, but in interviews, he’s quick to play down his status. “Fame’s not important,” Scott said, reminiscing back to when he was one of those “kids on their quest.”
“I consider myself an artist, which is, like, the most played term, but I believe it,” Scott said. What on the surface might seem to be a vapid mainstream rapper lies a visionary who packaged his debut with an action figure and USB in the digital age. He even dreamt of Andre 3000 narrating his latest release like a three-act play, but admitted he’s “too much of a rager” for such conception.
Scott quickly qualified his label: “Don’t get it twisted…I’m not, like, super conscious. I don’t write, I just go in the booth. I’m attached to the beat. The beat speaks words. I love music.” Travis Scott is merely a caricature of egomaniac rappers, simply the shell of Jacques Webster, the nerdy superfan who would rather idolize instead of become the idol. Scott’s humility will hopefully prevent his fall by keeping his confidence from crippling his artistry and letting admiration guide his vision.
Travis Scott plays Portsmouth Pavilion Thursday, May 04, 2017. For more info or tickets, click here.