With TMZ running headlines about Justin Bieber’s lean addiction and chopped-and-screwed vocals appearing on Beyoncé’s latest album, it’s safe to say that Houston’s rap culture has penetrated the mainstream.
As a native of the city, who has also experienced living in New York and Los Angeles, Travi$ Scott isn’t convinced by the way his hometown is being depicted.
“My whole shit is to redefine that, because a lot of people are making it mad corny,” he tells us. “I lived there my whole life. I don’t know about all these n*ggas, but Houston ain’t like all that shit they be talking about in their raps.”
His nomadic lifestyle has injected the influence of other locales into his sound. His debut mixtape, 2013’s ‘Owl Pharaoh’, combines the sharp drums of the East Coast, the laid back vibes of the West, and the dark vocal distortion of the South.
It’s not that Travi$ is necessarily against the codeine and promethazine concoctions or the slowed down music – on the contrary, as in our conversation he refers to himself as a “lean connoisseur” before breaking down into laughter.
“I just said the word ‘connoisseur’ with the word ‘lean’ – how f*cking weird is that? I think just that being the whole forefront of what Houston is driven behind, that’s what I’m against. There’s n*ggas like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino that’s basically showing you the iller vision of Houston or the South. Whereas that is like fictional; it’s just, like, the textures, people never see that.”
These textures are sonically present in the epic, expansive productions that share his unique vision. Similar to Rodriguez and Tarantino, Scott’s songs come across as an exaggerated, fictionalised take on real environments and emotions.
“I’m not totally against that [perception] because I grew up around it,” he clarifies. “But I feel like there’s a way fresher culture in front of that, which can stand next to all of that lean and that screwed-up shit.”