A month after the broadcast of the documentary Look Mom I Can Fly about his life, Travis Scott released his track Highest in the room, which became a global hit. At the tender age of 28, all eyes are on the man who knows how to galvanise an audience like no one else. So much so, that in just three years the beloved Texan rapper has found himself embroiled in two particularly expensive court cases. In 2018, he was given a heavy fine for cancelling his Super Bowl performance just hours before the event took place, and a year earlier he was sued by a fan, who fell off the balcony during a concert at Terminal 5 in New York. Today the musician’s name is once again caught up with the law and this time it’s not for a cancelled or overly violent performance, but a (simple) case of plagiarism.
While sampling is common practice in the world of rap and in music in general, it’s difficult to determine where the line is drawn between inspiration and ripping off someone else’s work. Especially because the piece Travis Scott was apparently inspired by was never actually released. The three producers are accusing the rapper and his team of stealing a guitar riff that they’d shared among themselves in a public conversation between producers (including Jamie Lepr, a collaborator who is close to the musician) with the promise of a future collaboration. Their names? Olivier Bassil, Benjamin Lasnier and Lukas Benjamin Leth. Three names which might not mean much to us now, but which could well scupper the dazzling success of the rapper, renowned for his professionalism.
While far from being as famous as DJ Khaled and Kanye West, their complaint could push their names into the limelight. As producers they’ve created tracks for the likes of Don Toliver, Dababy and Trippie Red, but have yet to impose themselves on the rap world. So, is this a case of artists in search of recognition or genuine plagiarism? Travis Scott’s team has yet to react to the accusation. If the story casts a shadow over the rapper, it will only add extra spice to the man who in just ten years has become a legend. Because after all what would an artist be without good old scandal in action?
Highest in the Room - Travis Scott (2019).