Travis Scott Talks About His Family and Career in XXL’s Winter 2019 Issue
Mark My Words
Travis Scott crafts his own story.
Words: Jacques Webster II a.k.a. Travis Scott
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
My new album Jack Boys, is a collective of me, Sheck Wes, Don Toliver and people that are signed to Cactus Jack Records, my label. True members of the Cactus Gang—friends, people that I like and respect, musically. I don’t like the word compilation. It’s just a body of work made with a few of my friends and people I’ve always made music with since day one. It’s just fun and something that’s endearing and cool. It kind of like, wakes up the minds of people that might not know about Don Toliver or people that know about Sheck Wes and makes them want to know more.
“Highest in the Room” is on that album. It was a song that I had for a while and I love performing it. It was something I felt I should give to the fans ’cause I felt it was fucking fire. Fans lose their minds and have out-of-body experiences to this shit when I perform it.
Since my last album came out, I’ve just been busy making a lot of beats for myself and other people. I am just getting back into making beats. For my albums, I work on beats and work on collaborating with producers on their beats. We go through the whole process. I wanted to get back to making beats again like when I first started. I have so much fun doing that.
I’ve been spending time with my family and with my daughter, Stormi. Being a dad is better than what I thought it would be. Stormi is one of the best human beings I know. She’s like my best friend. She makes life a little bit easier. She just inspires me and she surprises me every day with how she’s thinking. It’s so crazy. Her mom and I came up with the name Stormi together. I love her mommy and I always will. The hard part about relationships is just trying to be in one without a million outside voices interfering.
I never let any of that shit affect my mental, but it’s a pain in the ass. One of the best parts about becoming a dad is that it has actually brought me and my parents closer. It’s something beautiful for the family, a new addition. My mom and family come out to L.A. Stormi goes out to Houston every so often. It’s cool. She’s a Southern girl from Cali.
I’m on a timeless mentality. The things I care about are getting more important as I get older and make more sense. The things you take pride in are the things that you care about.
Having a daughter is amazing and has given me such respect for mothers and the process of raising children. It’s really, really powerful! It’s not a struggle to have a famous significant other. I think life in general always comes with hardships. It’s how you deal with them. I love being at the crib and I love spending time with the family. Now especially, because I just love hanging out with the Stormster. I just love watching my kid grow. It makes life so much simpler. I also love watching movies and just sitting and soaking up inspiration.
I also love rap right now. I think what’s happening now is so cool and innovative. It’s sort of like it’s back in a good spot where everyone is able to create a good career and be able to do things on their own. I think record labels are opening up to their artists more than ever and understanding who they are. There were challenges that we had to overcome from just before the streaming boom. We have a voice now. It’s amazing. The advice I can give to anybody who is coming in the game now is to stay focused on what you set out to do. You can get sidetracked but it’s all about staying focused.
It would be so much cooler if the hip-hop community could be more together and not so divided. It can be very divided. Competition plays a role but it’s cool that there’s competition. Everyone is obviously winning but it would be so cool if rap didn’t have so much back-and-forth and it was more about us coming to an understanding on some things and there was more camaraderie. We are all in this together. It’s us versus those who don’t get it. So, if we showed and felt that more, it would be different.
Since the last time I was on the cover of XXL over three years ago, I feel like things have just been crazy for me. I know I’ve gotten bigger success-wise and it’s wild. Me and White Trash Tyler were at a party together and I had two security guards with me and people wanted to take pictures—and I always love to take pictures with fans—but I was just like chilling and Tyler was like, “Yeah, I think you’re getting kinda big now.” And I was like, “Damn, bro, it just doesn’t feel like that when we are chillin’ at the crib.”
I never try to gauge my success. I just try to push the agenda I’m on. It surprises me every time I step out. It seems like there’s more and more fans and I look at it as a blessing. It started at Rodeo and just kept going. I just try to keep my fans on the ride with me. I’m straight as long as they straight. That’s my whole thing. As long as I got my fans, I can still manage to rock. I’ll always stay real to who I was from the start. I just keep pushing the agenda and keep trying to put out cool shit and hope people like it.
Jay-Z has always been a mentor to me. I met Jay-Z a long time ago, around Magna Carta Holy Grail. I have always kept in touch with him. I remember something he said: “We were born rich. Money doesn’t equate to rich in spirit. Money doesn’t equate any of that. We are just trying to obtain a certain level of wealth in our communities.” That’s what it’s about. That comes with pushing an agenda.
My agenda is to give everyone like me a voice and opportunities. We are about to hit 2020. I came in around 2012. My success wasn’t overnight. Now I feel like people are understanding more of what I have been trying to do since 2012. It’s just more about creativity and design now and being able to help with certain things in this life that people deal with every day.
Sometimes when you got a vision and you are dealing with people who have done things for so long and had so much success, a new vision might kinda leer them—not to say that they won’t trust it all the way, but they might not want to roll the dice on it.
With me, I was just so persistent about it. If it’s something I want to do, I feel like, Yo, if we could at least meet in the middle at first. I always want to see what I can get away with. And as you start hitting another tier, it’s like, Yo, see I did this and it worked. Then it’s like, Yo, can I do this? I proved myself. You gotta trust in yourself.
I always like to give ideas to help things feel cooler. I just try to throw that out and go for it and never take no for an answer. And I always love advice. I sometimes throw things out and it might be the wildest shit and it might not work. I’m always looking for someone that might tell me, “Yo, try looking at it this way” and that could’ve just altered the idea. I’m not like, It has to be this way or fuck that. I love bouncing shit off people.
I don’t listen to my music at all, which is so funny. I make songs and if I really like them, I might not listen to them for a while. I might make something I feel is for the album. I might play it for the homies. I’m a fan of rap, but I like all music. I might call James Blake—he’s one of my favorite artists of all time—and I’m like, “Yo, bro, you are the best artist of all fucking time. I really, really, really love your shit.” I’m a fan of any artist that I put on my album. Lately, I’ve been listening to Genesis, Aphex Twin and Röyksopp. I listen to a lot of Björk; she’s fuckin’ fire. I listen in the car or at the house. I’m on some shit with my speakers at the house. When I used to make beats at my mom’s house, I put car speakers in a shoebox and then put amplifier wires and hooked it up to an amplifier to create surround sound. So, of course, when I got bread, I put wild shit in the walls.
I’m inspired by beats. I’m inspired by new sounds and then they come alive. It might be a new artist or a producer that’s so fire that came up with some dope shit. Certain artists are so dope and I just feel I got a beat or I got something that will bring out the illest in them. I always hear something. Especially if I fuck with it. I think Don Toliver is one of the most talented kids of all time. He’s been a true inspiration to how I’m hearing things. There are also some of the same people that have been making music I’ve been liking since day one that I still listen to and continue to make cool shit.
I have a diverse audience. It’s not about what you look like. It’s all about what you represent. I kind of like to preach that. When people are at the shows, it’s like a sea of diversity. I try at every show to always tell everyone, "The people that’s with you, this is love, this is what really matters." At a Travis show, it doesn’t matter what you look like, just come and let it go. I think people have been able to understand that. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich, whether you are poor, whether you are famous—that shit doesn’t matter over here. I don’t care how famous you are. I don’t care who you are. No one there cares. I’ll be the first tell anyone that. It’s all about that connection and letting them know, "I’m with y’all."
I think my responsibility to hip-hop and music is that I’m never supposed to let the rage die. Never. I think sometimes people might take rage as aggression. Rage is not about people being angry. To me, it’s more so about letting go. That’s the most fun time of all. It’s like mom leaves you at the crib with $100 for Pizza Hut on a Saturday. Lets your best friends come over with all of your favorite games, TV, stocked fridge, stocked pantry, the car and you just got your permit. She allows you to drive and take your friend to the movies. Like, Whoa, this is the best day of my life. Are you serious? You just met the girl of your dreams. It’s like the best day of my life. That’s an example of what a moment of rage is to me.
Sometimes in life you might connect with an artist in discovering music to get you through something. Dealing with anxiety or just down for the day. That’s what Kid Cudi was to me. Kids tell me that kind of thing all the time and I take that to heart and that’s why I do everything I do. I remember somebody out there is listening to me. I got somebody through the next day. I got somebody through their day and that shit is amazing. That touches me. That resonates with me. For real, 100 percent. And it makes me listen back to that muthafucka. I swear when I be making music, I be tapping back into when I was that kid. I swear, every time.
There have been so many moments that I have had with fans that touched me or were special. I talk to a lot of fans. I remember one time someone was telling me they were in a real bad spot and the fact that they were at my show—and this was somebody that wasn’t a fan, this was somebody that I know personally—and they were like, “Yo, I was in a real bad spot and I listened to one of your mixtapes for the first time and it had me thinking different. It kinda turned me into a new person. It inspired me and got me back to where I need to be.” This was a person that I looked up to. For that to happen, it kinda flipped me. For them to really tap into me like that, it makes me think I’m doing something for real, for real.
I wouldn’t say I have an ego and don’t want to be that person. I look up to my dad and I always just want to be like my dad, an even better version. My dad has enough lit-ness for me and him. It makes me feel like I can just be the most humble person of all time. The best advice my dad has ever given me was: “Always stay yourself and be a Webster.” That’s my dad’s favorite line.
See Photos of Travis Scott's XXL Winter 2019 Cover Story Photo Shoot