Tracing signs of a Kylie Jenner influence on her man's, Travis Scott.
With the release of 2018’s ASTROWORLD, Travis Scott has cemented himself as one of this decade’s most creative and eclectic artists. His third studio album was not only his most critically-acclaimed release to date, it was also his most well-received commercially. Coupled with his sold out stadium-tour (which commenced its second-leg in late January), a controversial but still momentous Super Bowl performance, and three Grammy nominations, including Best Rap Album, Travis has had an eventful year that many artists wait a lifetime to see.
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While the album was first announced in 2016 as a follow-up to Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight, it would finally see a release date in the late summer of 2018. Fans were anxiously craving the record that the rapper dubbed his most personal during this two-year period. Between the announcement of the album and its release, there was one new constant in his life that should be considered as a factor in ASTROWORLD’s unprecedented success and Travis’ relatively recent embrace of the limelight: Kylie Jenner.
Romantically involved since Coachella 2017, Kylie and Travis have been a saving grace for gossip bloggers and paparazzi alike. Their relationship has been widely publicized, much like everything the Kardashian-Jenners do. For those who rub shoulders with the Top 40 and aren’t privy to the depths of Hip-Hop’s artists, Scott went from a relatively unknown rapper to “Kylie Jenner’s boyfriend” as soon as the media latched onto them.
Kylie Jenner is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most famous socialites and everyone and their mother has an opinion on her. Her brand is so large and prolific, that her cultural relevance surpasses her older siblings, Kim Kardashian included. This isn’t limited to the general public, but even within the family itself-- in the eyes of famed momager Kris Jenner, Kylie is the new favorite, as revealed by Kim (Kris’ previous favorite), in a recent interview with Andy Cohen. Kylie’s leverage as an influencer and socialite have practically made her untouchable in the face of controversy and every move she makes is newsworthy. So, when news got out that Jenner was dating Scott, eyes turned on him as well. Travis was once one of Hip-Hop’s shiest artists. Scott quickly developed a reputation for not showing his face in photos, something he carried over into his album covers. All three of his albums covers feature various visual representations of Scott as opposed to photographs of him.
Scott has always been an introverted individual, which is evident from the myriad of interviews he did with outlets during the release of Rodeo and Birds. In the media cycles for the release of his previous two albums, Scott would often keep his head low, strategically angling himself to be the least-viewed possible, often covering his face with his hands. He was equally disengaged when it came to answering questions; he didn’t make it easy for the interviewer, often appearing uninspired and uninterested.
Leading up to, and since, the release of ASTROWORLD, we’re seeing Travis Scott in a different light. We’re seeing a genuine excitement, we’re seeing a passionate and relaxed aura around him, and we’re even getting to see him smile and laugh in interviews, engaging in a proper dialogue.
Could this all be shocked up to some skillful media training? Or is there another source of “hashtag inspo”? The change in Scott’s demeanour and his ease with the media was on full display in last July’s GQ cover story on the millennial-approved couple.Months after their daughter Stormi was born, both figures publically laid-out their love and relationship for each other in the magazine. Scott’s seemingly self-imposed secretive nature was abandoned, as he bared (almost) everything, revealing the last time he cried was when his daughter was born and how he was in the delivery room, “Hell yeah! It was crazy. I was there through the hell...the epidural and shit. Crazy.” When asked about the Kardashian family curse and his relationship with Jenner, Scott definitively says that Kylie loves him for who he is, “I don't even be looking at motherfuckers. I don't be looking at shit. Kylie actually likes me for me.”Travis, who has never proclaimed himself as the lovey-dovey type, opened up in Kylie’s presence. This sentiment even translated to his album, which would drop later that August.
ASTROWORLD is named after Scott’s go-to childhood amusement park in Houston, Texas, which was demolished in 2005. Right from the get-go, this was supposed to be Travis’ most personal album since Rodeo. While the past is a prominent part of the record, Kylie’s spirit is also stamped all over the album, making it just as much about the present and the future.
The album has numerous affable references to Jenner, with Scott often glorifying her and putting her on a pedestal, “But she know my baby mama is a trophy,” as well as bragging about the expensive gifts he’s given her, “Brand new La Ferrari, my b*tch ride iconic.” And while Travis shows his love for Jenner throughout the album, including on the breakout hit “SICKO MODE,” it’s moments of self-reflection that show Jenner’s true influence on the artist. The anxiety and hectic anger displayed in Rodeo have disappeared, with Scott more confident in himself and his aspirations-- something he could have very well learned from one of the world’s most popular influencers.
He’s oozing comfortability and less restriction in his lyrics, something his critics cited as a negative for both Rodeo and Birds. In our review for Rodeo, we maligned Scott for having nothing to say beyond sex and drugs: “I cannot tell you anything about him other than the fact that he clearly likes sex and drugs. Because even when Travi$ offers insights into his character, like his background from Texas or his family still lingering around somewhere, he never really talks about them with any more effort than he does about girls' breasts.”
On ASTROWORLD, though, Travis is both honest and vulnerable, emotions that weren't being explored in his previous work. Rarely has he discussed his own insecurities in such a scathing way as he does on “COFFEE BEAN,” ASTROWORLD's closing track: “Bad-bad news, I'm just bad-bad news...How would you feel if I had you?/Trust me, you'd be mad too/But shawty, we can be mad cool/Just hit me if anything past due/Your family told you I'm a bad move/Plus I'm already a black dude.”
The entire track is a tell-all, where Scott ruminates over the events of the past recording year-- mostly in respect to his relationship with Jenner. This is jarring considering he’s never publicly commented on any of his previous relationships, rumored or otherwise.
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Scott went from barely touching upon relationships, to showing off his relationship, confidently, to the world. In a supplementary video from the GQ interview, we find Kylie quizzing Travis on how much he knows her. In the video, Kylie and Travis frequently go off-topic, riffing back and forth, revealing intimate details about their relationship. The entire video, while entertaining, is a full-length advertisement on their relationship, providing no new information on Travis’ then-unreleased third album. However, it's worth noting that it's also the first time where we get to see their brands collide, where Kylie seems to be pushing her fans onto Travis. In the video, she mentions “Hell of a Night,” which is a deep cut from his debut Owl Pharaoh. The YouTube video-- which, at the time, reportedly sat at 700,000 views, and is now approaching 4 million views-- is riddled with endless comments mentioning the same thing: “Kylie brought me here.”
The amalgamation of Kylie and Travis’ brands is to the benefit of both parties. The ASTROWORLDlip-kit that Jenner released in support of Travis’ tour is a piece of merchandise aimed directly at her audience and fans, yet the only way a fan could get their hands on it is by buying it at the merch booth at his concert. Kylie continues to champion for Travis in other ways too, such as her Vlog series on her Youtube channel, where she gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the ASTROWORLD tour. We’re even seeing Travis come out of the woodwork on Instagram, much more than he did in the past/ever, he’s frequently commenting on Kylie’s pictures and making an appearance on her continuous streams on content. He even put up an adoring, loving, and thoughtful post for their daughter, Stormi's 1st birthday, letting his fans "in."
In such a short amount of time, between the release cycle of Birds and ASTROWORLD, we’ve seen Travis embrace the limelight and become more vocal about his personal life. In this two-year interlude, he fell in love and witnessed the birth of his daughter; such events do tend to change a man (media-trained or otherwise). We cannot give Kylie all the credit for Travis' personal and career growth, that belongs Travis alone, however, it is possible that Jenner spurred him in the right direction. As their relationship continues to blossom, with rumours of an engagement hitting the web almost daily, we can only imagine where these two powerhouses will take their melding brands.