Photos by Denisse Hernandez
Travi$ Scott is an artist whose music and persona demand repeat reconsideration and much after thought. With his provoking lyrics and genre-blending production, the 2013 XXL Freshman gives his fans and naysayers plenty to process. Last night, Hot 97 provided us with yet another opportunity to hear the Houston native perform, featuring Scott as the headliner for this month’s “Who’s Next?” showcase at the legendary SOBs venue.
With DJ Juanyto on the 1s and 2s, and Hot 97 hosts Peter Rosenberg and Shawnee Culture, the night kicked off with introductions to the three east coast-hailing opening acts: Doley Bernays, Apollo the Great, and “Who’s Next?” returnees Trips-N-Slim. Contrary to the usual lull many would associate with opening acts before headliners, these aspiring lyricists brought a solid A-game. With gut-shaking tracks, methodical lyrics and flow, and of course, enthusiastic hypemen, the acts definitely roused the crowd and set the tone for the evening.
After a brief but enjoyable intermission provided by DJ Juanyto, the man of the hour took the stage. Scott fittingly started the show with his hook on “Crown,” which is featured on Jay-Z’s recent and highly-regarded album release Magna Carta Holy Grail. Never skipping a beat, Travi$ dove right into his well-known hit “Quintana,” and, as if they weren’t already turned up, the crowd went absolutely wild. At that point, the SOBs crowd knew they were in for a dynamic performance. Little did they know that their expectations were soon to be well exceeded.
Thereafter, Travi performed numerous tracks off his debut album, Owl Pharaoh, released May 21st of this year, including the Meek Mill collaboration “Bandz,” high-energy and apparent crowd favorite “Blocka La Flame,” and “Bad Mood/Sh*t On You.” What may or may not be an intentional effect of his style is the unique atmosphere that Scott’s sound created within the crowd. Mosh pitting and crowd surfing is seldom associated with hip-hop performance, and yet Scott demanded that a mosh pit assemble by the stage during a point in his performance, even jumping off stage and into the crowd to mosh along with fans that were all too glad to follow his lead. As Travi would reveal to XXL staff after the show, it was moments like this he enjoyed the most about the night’s performance, stating that his “engaging with the youth really is [an] important” part of what he does and why he does it. Feeding off his fans’s infectious energy, which he later referred to as “fucking crazy love” with a hazy reminiscent smile, Scott pulled about 20 of his fans on stage to help him perform A$AP Ferg collaboration “Uptown” and his hit single with T.I. and 2 Chainz, “Upper Echelon.” At that point, had not the SOBs ceiling been cemented down, one would surely imagine that the roof would blow right off the top. With his ad-hoc mini-mosh pit on stage with him, Travi rocked the house and ended his show with the type of style that gives SOBs it’s reputation of housing legends on the come-up. Patrick Castelo, Booking Director at SOB’s gave his thoughts, ”Travi$ Scott put on a wild show for his fans tonight. New York literally welcomed him with open arms as he dived into the crowd. His undeniable talent, energy and stage presence made for one hell of a show. With performances like that, the sky is the limit for Travi$ Scott.”
Call Travi$ Scott what you’d like, but especially after this performance, the guy can’t be denied of his humbleness. During his performance, he shared with the crowd how grateful he was to Kanye West and the opportunities opened up to him as a Very GOOD Beats producer for Ye’s G.O.O.D. Music label. When we caught up with him after the show, Scott continued to describe himself as “a man of the people … [I’m] not on no celebrity shit.” The 2013 XXL Freshman definitely made everyone proud last night, and with a performance like that, Travi showed everyone, Hot 97, and all in the SOBs crowd that he intends on being a game-changer.—Christina Kelly