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Travi$ Scott’s highly-anticipated debut, Owl Pharoh, is slated for a February 22, 2013 release. Yet just a year prior, one would be hard-pressed to find someone who recognized the name Travi$ Scott, let alone was a fan of his catalog. Early last year, Travi$ was scouted by Kanye West, and his name has since become one to know. In true Kanye fashion, he brought the young artist under his wing and helped usher him into the limelight, shaping both Scott’s style and thought process along the way. If one were looking to pinpoint the specific moment Ye introduced the world to Travi$, then they would undoubtedly arrive at Scott’s appearance on the Cruel Summer track “Sin City”. The song had G.O.O.D Music devotees asking, “Who is Travi$ Scott?” On an album as big as Cruel Summer, intrigue can be enough to spark the birth of a new star.
Since West revolutionized the music landscape with his debut release The College Dropout, nearly every producer to follow has cited his body of work as inspiration. In the case of Travi$ Scott, West’s impact on his music is obvious, and was long before the two ever met. Which is not to say Scott’s production or rapping isn’t objectively good. It is, and his tracks “Lovesick” and the Young Chop collaboration “Blocka” serve as examples. It’s simply evident Travi$ shares a similar knack for sonic grandeur as Kanye. In their world, there is no drum too large, no chord progression too evocative of gospel choir, and no proclamation of self-worth too ambitious to be mistaken for hubris. Only time will tell if the similarities between the two result in Travi$ Scott’s ascent to superstardom. In our interview with the Houston-native, we discuss his roots, his tenuous relationship with his parents, his relationship with Kanye (whom he divulges is currently working on a new solo album), the G.O.O.D. Music family, and of course, Owl Pharoh. – Jake Woolf.
Can you discuss your Houston roots and how they have shaped your music to date?
Man, I lived there my whole life and just being around those guys influenced the urban side of my music. Just the way Texas moves and the way the city works [has influenced me]. The vibe plays a big part of it. That’s 10% of what Swishahouse taught us. From a style point of view, most of it comes from the West culture, as far as the skins and textures and shit. You know ..??
How would you describe your style as a rapper? As a producer?
I came to my senses when I was at a dinner [hosted by] Kim Jones Paris. I was with the whole clique and Virgil was like, “Man, you’re the youngest kid in here. You’re amongst the best designers in the world. You’re not a producer, you design music.” Which is true. As far as a rapper style, that shit was just born into me. It’s really who I am.
You briefly lived in New York yet now reside in Los Angeles. What attracted you to the city of angels and do you have plans of a return to New York someday?
I hated walking and shit. I love New York ‘cause that’s where most of clique is but the vibe is crazy in LA. It really works for me. That’s the type of person I am. I think it’s because I have this weird mindset that has to be always working. Maybe I will [move back], but I need to be moving like my nigga [Kanye] or Jigga if I do.
In your view, what makes G.O.O.D. Music different from other hip-hop crews?
No disrespect to any other crews, but shit, we the freshest niggas out. Our fucking label head is one of the illest designers. Kanye really puts his mind and body into the shit he does. He really wants to show people the way to do shit. Just look at the shows we put on. The aesthetic of everything we do has to be God level.
What thus far has been your most fulfilling accomplishment?
I remember I did an interview listing whom I wanted to work with. In the past year, I’ve worked with [everyone I mentioned], whether if it has been for [my projects] or for them. I want to name the awesome people I worked with but…he hasn’t announced it yet so ill wait. Even just working with Ye on his album is so ill.
At times you’ve discussed a somewhat tenuous relationship with your parents as they’ve struggled to support your music. Now that you’ve made appearances on major records and are working with top musicians in your field, have they become more supportive?
Yea man of course. It’s like if you hit the lottery, you think they’re not going to fuck with you. That’s the worst part of it all man. They swore up and down I wasn’t going to be shit. I still feel I have a lot to prove to them.
Your forthcoming album, Owl Pharoh, is slated for a February 22 release. What can fans expect from this release?
A lot of crazy shit man, like beats that are on God level. I’ve also been working with Nabil on some ill visuals and shit. I’m putting my all into this shit. Expect shit that challenges the radio. Expect people to hate on me big time. Expect that new sound. Expect some of your favorite artists on there.
How has your G.O.O.D. Music family assisted you with this project? Who among them are slated to appear on tracks?
I’ve been working along side Kanye working on this shit, whether it’s been in Paris or in the fucking middle of nowhere. Just being around him creating this project has really molded it together. His advice and shit is priceless, even though he’s a wild critic. When you’re sitting in writing sessions with [Rhymefest], Malik [Yusef], Cyhi [tha Prince] and Big Sean, you gotta have the raps ready. Sean is one of the illest rappers.
Please describe your relationship with Kanye West. What advice has he offered you as a young artist?
Kanye and I are good friends. He’s like a big brother to me. He puts me on a lot of game and vice versa. But more so he just wants me to be the greatest and really show the youth the value of production. He always tells me, “You’re the youth’s Kanye West, but you’re in your own form. You’ll be where I am if you keep putting out the shit you do.” But he also knows I’m my own person creating a lane for myself, which is awesome because eventually I want to do shows like Justice and Daft Punk. People are really going to see the vision once shit gets bigger.
How important is it important for you to establish your own voice as an artist under the G.O.O.D. Music label?
It’s very important. No matter what label you’re on. But more so just having your own sound is [what matters]. I’m the only rapper/producer on the label.
Where do you think Travi$ Scott will be in 5 years? 10?
I’m going to be scoring movies shit….not like I’m not already shhhhhhh haha. I wanna do a tour with TNGHT. I feel like they’re up next. Travi$ Scott world tour. [I want to be] doing ill shit and making sure my whole crew, [for instance] Jon Williams (of Will & Rich), are somewhere with their own fashion house. [I want to] make sure My homie Dozie Kanu is directing short films and movies somewhere. And continuing to create that new shit for music. [I really want to] carry out my vision.
Photography: Michael Knapp for HYPETRAK