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Travis Scott has not really shared the personal impact of the Nov. 5, 2021 crowd crush at his Astroworld Festival in Houston that resulted in the deaths of 10 fans and injuries to hundreds more. But in a new interview with GQ for its annual Men of the Year issue, the “Skitzo” MC spoke out for the first time about how the tragedy influenced his Utopia album, as well as his ongoing struggle to come to grips with the losses on that dark day.
“I mean I was just overly devastated, you know. Yeah,” he told writer Chris Heath. “I always think about it. Those fans were like my family.” Scott also described how those feelings are reflected on Utopia, telling the magazine, “Making music, you think about things that go on in life and things that happen in your life, and you dial in on things. That moment for families, for the city, you know, it was devastating. And when it came to making, like even finishing the album…I got back into it probably like, I don’t know, months and months and months after. And the idea of just even getting back into music, working on music and just even getting into that, was therapeutic of being able to channel some of the energy into production and sounds and finishing it.”
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Eager for fans to realize, “I have pain too,” Scott said the Utopia song “My Eyes” references the Astroworld deaths and that it represents “the things I deal with on a day-to-day basis and the fact of how it could be misunderstood and the struggles of life and all aspects of life. The constant weight that’s put on. That you carry, you know. And just a vision through my eyes.”
In the song, Scott raps, ” I replay them nights, and right by my side, all I see is a sea of people that ride wit’ me/ If they just knew what Scotty would do to jump off the stage and save him a child.” The MC said those emotional lyrics “just came out” when he was writing “My Eyes,” describing it as a “real moment. The song is emotional to me. It’s one of my favorite songs on the album. And that verse means a lot to me.”
As for what he wants his fans to get from it, Scott said he hopes it acknowledges his pain and concerns, as well as the “things I see on a day-to-day basis I think about them. And every day I want to find change in the things, to make things better, make myself better. It’s just like: I go through things like everyone else. And even recently through something like I never could imagine.”
After a 19-month investigation, a Houston grand jury determined in June that Scott and the other Astroworld organizers would not face criminal charges. The rapper, however, faced hours of questioning in September in a civil deposition in connection with the hundreds of lawsuits that were filed against him and others; to date there are more than 1,500 active cases tied to the festival tragedy, with the first trial scheduled for May 6, 2024.
Scott also talks to GQ about his relationship with his daughter Stormi, his eldest of the two children he shares with his ex, Kylie Jenner, as well as how he originally conceived of Utopia as a Broadway play. He reveals that he even met with acclaimed playwright Jeremy O. Harris (Slave Play) to see if they could figure out a way to bring a Broadway-style production — incorporating some “Sin City s–t. Like Frank Miller style. Like comic, but try to bring it to 3D, incorporate some high-level Fantasia-style s–t” — to stadiums and arenas around the world.
Scott, who became obsessed with studying to become a nephrologist (a kidney doctor) as a child, also said he plans to go back to college soon and study architecture at Harvard. He’s already made a few visits to the storied Boston university and looked into the admissions process. “I got to work hard to get in. They’re not letting me take any shortcuts,” he said, suggesting that the hard right turn might come after he wraps his Circus Maximum world tour. And, don’t worry, even though he plans to do the full four-year course, he promised, “I’m still going to make music, of course.”
Check out the GQ cover below.
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