UPDATE (11/4/2019): Not sure how I missed this story about Scott’s first childhood memories being in Houston’s South Park living with his grandma. He says he moved to Missouri City at the age of 6, so his formative years were still spent in the burbs. But as someone who moved to a significantly different environment at a similar time in life, I see how interactions with tweakers and people in real poverty would linger with Travis forever.
He might still be hit or miss on the mic, but Travis Scott is wild. His sonic identity has become more refined, and his live performances are amazing.
There isn’t much to grasp about his background in his music. Houston suburb, lower-middle class, a lotta bitches and drugs. But everything about him is so…extra. What is this guy tweakin’ for all the time? Causing riots and shit, blasting an unsuspecting cameraman as well as Air Canada, all that.
The self-proclaimed “weird nigga from the corner” is like millions of Black boys in the USA who aren’t quite from the city but are familiar enough with the street to be hood, relative to everyone else. Urban sprawl and gentrification have pushed many Black inner-city teens and young adults out into areas they wouldn’t have been found in twenty years ago.
This awkward intersection of race, class, and adolescence is not new. Travis Scott is a great representation of this intersection in hip-hop today and the ‘Don’t Play’ video brings it to life.
The video for ‘Don’t Play’ was goofy and I wasn’t a huge fan of it at first. But the imagery of Scott throwing dollar bills on a thick ass White girl—in a bedroom that isn’t hard to imagine a younger Jacques Webster actually living in—seems like a variation of a fantasy many youngins have probably had.
Imagine all the 14 to 19-year-old weird niggas thirsty for an opportunity like this:
Travis’ visions and come up are not mindblowingly unique, but he attacks these themes so viciously and with an increasingly distinct Wild West feel. He does it with little external motivation, as if it’s just nature for little weird niggas to want such things. To be so frenetic, so desirous. The wild rodeo feel is captured in the ‘Don’t Play’ video well.
This Travis Scott installment of the ‘Before They Were Famous’ series on YouTube by Michael McCrudden talks about Scott’s desire to go to Los Angeles, after a brief period in New York City, and make it with music. Along with the socioeconomic conditions that breed wild niggas like Scott, his parents directly opposed his musical aspirations. The stifling conditions surrounding a young Jacques have appropriately birthed the new-wave explosion that is La Flame.
Between his music and visuals, the personality that shines through Travis Scott’s work is attractive to many younger hip-hop fans. It’s a familiar young, wild American ethos that instead is presented in a Black guy’s body. It’s reminiscent of some notable punk rock acts, but hip-hop’s universality makes this a much different phenomenon. The Rodeo tour proves that, Lollapalooza proves that, and it looks like Scott will continue to strengthen this impression onto mainstream American culture.