If you ever considered leaving school to chase a creative pursuit, Travis Scott is living your American Dream. Nearly two years ago, Travis—a native of Missouri City, Texas (a suburb of Houston), left the University of Texas-San Antonio for New York, lying to his parents about his whereabouts and surreptitiously using the money they were sending him for school to fund studio sessions and plane trips to Los Angeles to record H-Town producing legend Mike Dean (a situation that led to a temporary estrangement from his parents).
Soon after the release of his wild and fragmented video for “Lights (Love Sick),” industry bigwigs began to take notice. Before long, Travis was signed as a rapper to Epic through T.I’s Grand Hustle imprint. A few weeks later, music’s best-known college dropout, Kanye West, signed Travis to his in-house production team, Very GOOD Beats. Since signing with Yeezy, Travis’s influence on the GOOD Music oeuvre is unmistakable. The similarities between Yeezus and Cruel Summer and Travis’s Owl Pharaoh are evident—divergent sonic interludes, distant dancehall samples, aggressive and unruly synths—essentially everything that has given Kanye’s post-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sound its bored supermodels doing cocaine in an 18th century mansion-type vibe.
Travis’s rapid ascent shows no signs of slowing down. He produced “Crown” on Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, he can be heard rapping and singing next to Diddy and Birdman’s epic shit-talking on the “Leanin’ In,” the opening track on Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers 3, and he’s got production credits on Pusha T’s freshly released My Name is My Name. Plus, he was part of the rowdiest non-OVO surprise guest concert appearance of 2013.
We met Travis in the basement of Toronto streetwear mecca Stussy and interviewed him in front of a dozen people (fans, members of Travis’s touring crew, local industry heavies). We talked about getting high in the studio around Jay Z, going to strip clubs with DJ Whoo Kidd, the Kanye West-Jimmy Kimmel beef, and meeting David Blaine on Bob Dylan’s secret tour bus.
Noisey: You turned 21 recently.
Travis Scott: Yeah. What’d you do for your birthday?
Damn, I don’t remember. [Short silence] Oh! I thought I was going to have some yacht party and shit because I’ve been kinda doing well in music, but I just did some regular shit, like I always do. [To Chase B, his DJ] What did I do on my birthday? Chase: We were with Wiz Khalifa. Travis: Oh yeah! I went to the fucking club with Wiz and I got drunk. He gave me a bag of pre-rolls and bought me, like, 12 bottles. Which club?
Supper Club, in LA. Word.
That’s what I did on my birthday. Wiz took me out. Wiz—I love you, bruh. I just watched the video you directed for “Upper Echelon.” It was dark and eerie as hell. How’d you like the performer-director role?
It was awesome. I was yelling at my crew all day. I shot the “Uptown” video three days ago. With Ferg?
Nah, Ferg didn’t show up. He said he was sick and shit. Where’d you shoot it?
Like, ten minutes from his house. I was super sad about it, but it was whatever. The video is cool as fuck, though. It’s a short film.
Who directed it?
I did. That’s what I thought.
Yeah, yeah. It’s all a part of what I’m doing for my tape. See, I’m going to be the first artist to give people ill ass visuals off the songs on their first album. You tell me whose first album is going to compare to what the fuck I’m doing. That song has 2 Chainz and T.I on it. You’ve got production credits on Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail… What would you say is the craziest recording session you’ve been a part of?
Man, me and ‘Ye have had a lot of crazy recording sessions, but when I worked with Hov on Magna Carta, that shit was tight asfuck ‘cause I was getting high around them, doing tight shit. What was he like in the studio?
Bro, he’s super energetic. I tried to get him to do crazy shit. Like jump around in studio. He’s with the shits, man. That nigga is tight as fuck. Did he jump around?
Yeah, he did. I made him. I was like, yo, let’s go. You are now in the presence of the La Flamme. This ain’t no other night shit. [Laughs]
[To Chase] Ayo, what’s the tightest recording session we ever had?
Chase: Uhh… that John Mayer shit was fresh. That was a surprise.
Yeah, that was a surprise.
Where’d you guys record with John Mayer?
In SoHo. Randomly. I was at a studio and he came by.
Well, now at this point you’ve met a ton of celebrities. I saw a picture of you with Dame Dash.
Yeah, I was with that fool in Vegas. [Laughs] It was so random. What’s the strangest celebrity encounter you had?
David Blaine. [Laughs] Where did you meet David Blaine?
The magician. Yeah, yeah. Where’d you meet him?
Where’s Chase? [To Chase] Where’d we meet the magician? Chase: Can I even say where we met him? [Laughs] That shit might be some…I don’t know. I might get struck by lightning. I met that dude on Bob Dylan’s old tour bus. And only selected people know where that is located. [Laughs]
What do you think about the whole Kanye West-Jimmy Kimmel beef?
Man, you know, that shit is really fucked up. You know it’s crazy because I saw it before ‘Ye saw it, and I was like, man, I know ‘Ye is going to flip his shit, because ‘Ye hasn’t done an interview in multiple years because of shit like this. So, the time he does do one of the realest interviews—people mock it. And you what’s funny, man? I’m a big driver of pushing the culture. Fuck movements, fuck your clique, you know what I’m saying? It’s all about the culture. And that’s what a lot of rappers are fucking up at—especially on the radio. It’s all about this shit that [snaps his fingers] lasts only six months. There’s really no respect for the culture anymore, or respect for tight shit. There’s a whole bunch of Club Liv bullshit that everyone is getting confused about. Are you talking about rap radio?
Not just rap radio, but rap-pers. Rap radio could be [points to one of the organizers of the meet and greet, K Cynthia] her iPod. She can have me on it, then somebody else dope—like Chaz [Toro y Moi] or the Phoenix or Drake or Cudi. Ill shit. What have you seen recording with Kanye that sets him apart from everyone else?
I think those are the moments we like to keep private. And keep in our heads. Because if someone was like, yo, what’s some tight Travis Scott shit? I wouldn’t want that person to be like, “Yo, now I know: he does this,” because it wouldn’t be cool. We wouldn’t be able to come up with the shit we come up with if we did that.
This is what I think, if I do a lot of shit behind-the-scenes with people I work with and then I go out and tell everyone I feel like I lose that creativity we came up with. I feel like I’ll never come up with another idea again if I reveal how I did it, ‘cause I don’t know how I did it. It all just happened because of good feelings and the right energy.
Tell me about the “Asian strip club” you went to with Whoo Kidd.
Man. Moisture. That kid is all about the moisture. Lotion?
No, bro. The hoes. I fuck with that nigga. He’s cool as fuck. He also told me Toronto gets it poppin’ and shit.
With strip clubs?
[Laughs] Not exactly. Just, like, people, period. Toronto has a good vibe. Man, Whoo Kidd. [Laughs] Moisture. Moisture. Technology has made it easy for you to connect with your fans on multiple platforms. What’s the thirstiest way someone has tried to get at you?
Man, you know what’s crazy? You know how on Instagram, sometimes if you click on certain shit, it’ll find your location? Yeah.
So, one time I posted a picture and the craziest shit happened. I got stalked for the rest of the day. But I don’t consider that thirsty. I consider that someone really wanting to carry on some fresh ass shit. I would do the same thing if it was the other way around. [Laughs]
Like, I’m Cudi’s biggest fan, right? Even to this day. And I know this nigga. It’s like, man, once you listen to someone and you really fuck with them and understand their art to the core, you’ll want to live with them. I would stop everything I’m doing right now and be Cudi’s assistant.
True. That’d be a slight change from your past. And present. You spent some time living in your friend’s car. What was the worst thing about living in a car that most people wouldn’t think about?
Man. It gets cold inside when it’s cold outside.
I mean, that’s why I think this hoodie is so fresh [points to holes on the sleeves, midsection, back and top of his PYREX Vision hoodie]. I mean, now I’m in expensive designers and shit, but I’m ripping it up because I feel like it explains [and pays homage to] where I’m at right now. Keeping it real. Not trying to do all that extra shit, man.
I mean, for me, I’m still like the niggas that play PlayStation and eat cereal all day.
Have you talked to your mom yet?
Yeah, I actually talked to my mom today. So, everything’s good?
Yeah. I was asking her if I should turn off my data roaming for when I came out here. I always ask her that now, ‘cause she hits me up like, “We talked on the phone and my bill is $2,000.” And I’ll be like, oh shit, my bad. Me and my mom are cool as fuck, but sometimes we argue and shit, ‘cause you know. What are you most excited for in the next few months?
Seeing Cudi on tour, in his new suit. Fucking with the Yeezus tour. Can’t wait to crowdsurf. Last question: Do you have to know all the words to “Mo City Don” to be a Missouri City resident?
[Laughs] Slow, loud and banging, all in my trunk. Trunk full of funk, I ain’t never been a punk. I blow on skunk, I blow on doja. Military-minded, I’m a motherfucking soldier. Out the streets of the Ridgemont fo’, ain’t no bitch and still ain’t a ho. Letting niggas know, everyday of the year….awww [I forget]. I don’t know. Gotta take a trip to Acapulco, from the four, with a four-four [unintelligible] awww. Damn. ‘Ro would be proud.
Yeah, ‘Ro would definitely be proud. That shit long, but… Yeah, it’s long as fuck.
I know some niggas that know that shit front to back, but you know, I listened to ‘Ro here and there. I wasn’t a huge advocate, but I knew that shit because I was from the ‘Mo. You had to know the majority of that ho. And if you fell off, you had to hop right back on. You saw how I fell off and hopped right back on? Yeah, I did. Good save. Alright, I’m done. Thanks a lot, dude.
That was dope. Appreciate it. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jordanisjoso