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Travis Scott

Travis Scott

Houston-born rapper and producer Travis Scott's psychedelic trap style makes him one of the more distinctive talents to have risen to the height of mainstream commercial popularity. His heavily processed, half-sung/half-rapped style set him apart early on, and he grew from affiliations with Kanye West's GOOD Music and T.I.'s Grand Hustle in the early 2010s to chart-dominating popularity before the close of the decade. After his first studio album, 2015's Rodeo, debuted in the number three position, Scott followed with a pair of number one full-lengths, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (2016) and Astroworld (2018), all the while assisting in platinum singles headlined by the likes of Rihanna ("Bitch Better Have My Money"), SZA ("Love Galore"), and Drake ("Portland"), and working extensively with Quavo as Huncho Jack. Whether leading or supporting, Scott's presence was unmistakable, and he quickly accumulated Grammys, endorsement deals, and appearances in more than 80 charting songs. By the 2020s, Scott was one of the most successful living artists on the planet. This level of fame played into both extreme success and profound tragedy, with Scott being at the center of controversy surrounding the deaths and injuries of hundreds of fans at his 2021 Astroworld festival before debuting his genre-crossing, Grammy-nominated fourth album, 2023's UTOPIA.

Born Jacques Webster, Travis Scott grew up in a suburb of Houston and began making music as a teenager. He formed a duo called the Graduates with Chris Holloway, and they released an EP in 2009. The following year, he formed another duo, the Classmates, with OG Chess. Scott produced the pair's two full-lengths, Buddy Rich and Cruis'n USA, but they broke up near the end of 2011. After dropping out of college, Scott moved to Los Angeles and began recording music on his own. He met T.I. and eventually Kanye West. Scott was hired as an in-house producer for GOOD Music, and appeared on the label's Cruel Summer compilation in 2012. Scott's debut, Owl Pharaoh, was originally scheduled to be released as a free mixtape in 2012, but as his profile grew (including a placement in XXL Magazine's Freshman Class of 2013), and sample clearance issues, the album wasn't released until May 2013. Featuring guest appearances by T.I. and 2 Chainz (on the single "Upper Echelon") as well as Toro y Moi and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Owl Pharaoh eventually garnered a nomination for Best Mixtape at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards.

The buildup to Scott's first proper studio album involved the Days Before Rodeo mixtape, promoted with the singles "Don't Play" and "Mamacita," and the March 2015 U.S. Rodeo Tour, headlined by Scott and supported by Young Thug and Metro Boomin. Several of the dates sold out. The same month, Rihanna's Scott-produced hit single "Bitch Better Have My Money" was released. "3500" and "Antidote" were issued ahead of Rodeo, Scott's second full-length, which followed in September on Grand Hustle/Epic and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Toward the end of the year, "Antidote" peaked at number 16 on the Hot 100 and became Scott's first platinum single.

Chatter regarding a follow-up, along with numerous delays, ensued throughout much of 2016. Meanwhile, Scott extended his commercial presence with featured spots on Wiz Khalifa's "Bake Sale," Rihanna's "Woo," and Kanye West's "FML," as well as a collaboration with Young Thug and Quavo, "Pick Up the Phone," a mid-year hit issued as the lead single of Young Thug's JEFFERY. Three months later, after "Bitch Better Have My Money" earned platinum certification, Scott's second proper album arrived. Titled Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight after one of Quavo's lines in "Pick Up the Phone," the woozy, mostly midtempo set featured that hit and contributions from the likes of André 3000, Kid Cudi, and Kendrick Lamar. It went straight to the top of the Billboard 200.

Leading up to his third LP, Scott was featured on a slew of tracks, including platinum singles headlined by SZA ("Love Galore"), Drake ("Portland"), Miguel ("Sky Walker"), 2 Chainz ("4 AM"), and Trippie Redd ("Dark Knight Dummo"). Scott's own "Butterfly Effect" arrived during this torrent of hits in May 2017 and promptly went platinum as well. Seven months later, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho, a collaborative full-length with Quavo, entered the Billboard 200 at number three. The following May, Scott released "Watch," a non-album track featuring Kanye West and Lil Uzi Vert, and within three months released Astroworld, which he considered the true follow-up to Rodeo. Featuring "Butterfly Effect," the album -- named after a demolished Houston amusement park -- debuted at number one and was supported with a second single, "Sicko Mode." Scott closed out 2018 by appearing on multiple tracks of Metro Boomin's Not All Heroes Wear Capes album.

After collaborating with Young Thug and J. Cole on 2019's "The London" and being featured on Ed Sheeran's "Antisocial," Scott issued his own solo single, "Highest in the Room." JackBoys, a brief compilation showcasing artists from Scott's Cactus Jack Records label, appeared at the end of the year. The release subsequently became the first number one album of the 2020s. Another Young Thug collaboration, "Franchise," also featuring M.I.A., debuted in September 2020 on top of the Billboard 200.

In January 2021, Spanish DJ HVME released a deep house reworking of Scott and Kendrick Lamar's song "Goosebumps," eventually topping Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs Chart. Two more tracks appeared that November, with both "Escape Plan" and "Mafia" arriving concurrently and hitting the Top Ten of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

On November 5, 2021, there was a fatal crowd crush during Scott's performance at his third annual Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas. The event resulted in the death of 10 people with over 300 being treated for injuries. The rapper apologized and the rest of the festival was canceled. Scott and others involved in the festival were investigated, though a Texas grand jury ultimately declined to indict them.

In May 2022, Scott performed at the Billboard Music Awards, his first live appearance since the Astroworld Festival tragedy. He also contributed to four tracks on Metro Boomin's Heroes & Villains album. In July 2023, he released his fourth studio album, UTOPIA. An ambitious, genre-crossing concept album in the vein of Kanye West's Yeezus, it featured a bevy of producers, including Scott, James Blake, WondaGurl, and others. Also featured were many guests, such as Bad Bunny and the Weeknd on the lead single, "K-pop," and Beyoncé and Bon Iver on "Delresto (Echoes)." Utopia topped both the Billboard 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. ~ Paul Simpson & Andy Kellman

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