In 2014, PPP (the label Pigalle Paris, the artist Pain o Chokolat and the club Le Pompon), which at the time were the masters of cool on the Paris nightlife scene, invited Travis Scott to showcase his work at Faust, what was then a new Left Bank club underneath the arches of the Pont Alexandre III. A super-worked-up crowd came to hear the first Parisian concert given by a prodigy whose name, in those days, was still only circulating by word of mouth. At that point he had just two mixtapes to his name, the second of which, Days Before Rodeo, had just come out and included tracks that would be- come instant classics. Both a producer and a rapper, Scott, who back then still wrote his name with a dollar sign (Travi$ Scott), was already laying the foundations of an entirely personal world which he would go on to master in every aspect. Soaring and very dark, Drugs You Should Try It pushed the trap sound to its limits with its mad cymbals and bass and its superimposed auto-tuned vocals, while on Mamacita, Scott’s hoarse voice surfed on an irresistible rhythm. That night in Paris, he already gave the full measure of what would become his trademark: an intensity close to hysteria. Shirtless and as though possessed, Scott jumped about and harangued his fans. As the whole audience jumped with him, it seemed for a moment that a lost energy had been revived, that of the punk generation, which the audience in the hall that evening knew only through archive footage. Just like in the good old days, the police were called to break things up at the end... “Travis Scott has proved that hip-hop is the new punk,” screamed the online headlines the next day. But the story had only just begun.
It wasn’t the first time Scott had set foot in the City of Light, since he had come once before to help Kanye West, who hired him as one of the producers on his album Yeezus. Signed to West’s label GOOD Music, and already approved by one of the Atlanta godfathers of rap, T.I., the young Jacques Webster, Jr, as Scott was born, was thus already squarely on the launch pad when he released his first official album, Rodeo, in 2015. On the cover, the future star appeared as an action doll dressed up in all his usual accoutrements: dreadlocks, tattoos, heavy neck- laces, leather jeans and black Vans – a collector’s doll that now sells for E1,600 online. This way of projecting his image already signalled a certain self-distancing, as though right from the start Scott saw himself as his own marionette, at once entirely sincere and completely immaterial.
Between his studio where he works with a demandingness bordering on obsession, according to those who’ve seen him at it, the concert stage where he transgresses everything right down to basic security regulations (which has already got him arrested for “incitation to riot” in the US as well as earning him a lawsuit from an injured fan), and the strange visual universe derived from science fiction which hesubsequently rolled out in his images and videoclips, Scott seems to exist in a world that is parallel to our own. For some this is due to the influence of growing up with his older brother, who is severely autistic, and in online forums his fans even discuss the possibility that Scott himself may have a mild form of autism.