Travis Scott explained himself, and made everything worse
He took no responsibility for the Astroworld Fest deaths and gave vague solutions for the future.
In his first interview since the Astroworld Festival tragedy, Scott sits down with Charlamagne Tha God to tell his side of the story and ends up showing why he’s not fit to have the influence his fans bestowed upon him.
For the nearly hourlong sit-down chat, Scott danced around accountability for the Astroworld Fest tragedy without giving substantial ideas for change. Anyone who has ever been to a Travis Scott show, or watched the Apple Music live stream of his set, knows he curates a setlist to maximize the mayhem with little to no respite. To Scott, not only was the rage culture he cultivated not to blame for the deaths at his festival, “the show isn’t just rambunctious for an hour.” So, don’t expect the king of rage rap to change his style of music to prevent crowds from expressing riotous energy, because he genuinely feels his music played no part in those deaths.
“What happened here wasn’t off Travis Scott music,” Scott said.
Besides his defiant stance Scott took on his music’s culpability, the insight he shared on his handling of the situation ranged from curiously vague to borderline ignorant. When asked about his coping methods following the travesty, he mysteriously answers, “I’ve just been in a room for a while,” like a child who has been grounded. He avoids taking any responsibility for the deaths (likely a point regarding his litigation around the festival); he only admits to a responsibility to figure out what happened, and how to prevent it from recurring in the future. As far as during the performance, he admits to seeing the flashing lights emanating from the crowd, but he doesn’t directly answer Charlamagne’s question about how often he sees ambulances in the crowd. Instead, he strangely claims, “ambulance don’t really have red and blue lights,” which anyone who’s ever seen an ambulance would know is false.
The central problem with Scott’s line of thinking is he sees him and his fans as “family,” but doesn’t fully grasp the responsibility of being the head of that family. Throughout the interview, he defers to the call-and-response with fans at concerts when it comes to crowd safety. For example, even though he saw the flashing lights of the ambulance, he says he kept going because he didn’t hear any calls to stop the show when he asked the crowd if everything is ok. Most of the Astroworld casualties occurred in one small section of the massive festival, with most in attendance, including myself, unaware of any injuries being sustained by festivalgoers. To think you can gauge the safety level of a handful of people in a sea of 50,000 raging fans is tantamount to yelling at the ocean to see if anyone is drowning.
That underscores the larger issue of why Scott isn’t ready for the level of influence he possesses: accountable change. Not only does he not take responsibility for the deaths, but he doesn’t outwardly put the blame on Live Nation, Scoremore, or the fans, either. Part of being a leader is making tough punitive decisions as a way to truly prevent mishaps from repeating in the future. He doesn’t hold Live Nation to account for deciding to continue the show even after the police informed them the festival had turned into a mass casualty event. He doesn’t even call them out for not telling him his set was being cut short because of the casualties. Scott not knowing there were casualties at his festival until minutes before the police held a press conference about the deaths is a failure on the professionals he put in charge, and ultimately a reflection of his own failure. It’s been over a month since the deaths at Astroworld Fest, and the only tangible change he proposed to make his show safer was embedding the admission wristbands with technology that can track people’s vitals and location; it’s a slap in the face of those who would’ve lost their lives under the riotous stampeding even if they were wearing a Fitbit on their arm.
The main takeaway from Scott’s first public interview since the tragedy is Scott isn’t fully ready to make the artistic and professional sacrifices necessary to be a true leader of a generation of kids — and until he does, more Astroworld Fest tragedies could be in the future.