Travis Scott sums up his past year with just one word: “fire.” For the rapper known as La Flame, it’s an apt description. Scott’s third studio album, Astroworld (Epic/Grand Hustle/Cactus Jack), topped the Billboard 200 last August for the first two weeks of its release, then returned to the top spot for a third week in December. He scored his first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Sicko Mode” featuring Drake (after more than 20 weeks on the chart, it has dropped to only No. 3). And Scott kicked off the year by becoming a father, with girlfriend Kylie Jenner, to perhaps the most famous baby of 2018, daughter Stormi.
Already, Scott has two major moments to look forward to in 2019: On Feb. 3, he’ll perform alongside Maroon 5 and Big Boi at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show (with the stipulation that the NFL partner with him in donating $500,000 to the social justice organization Dream Corps). And just a week later, he’ll attend the Grammys as a first-time nominee, for best rap album (for Astroworld), best rap performance and best rap song (for “Sicko Mode”). Recording Academy recognition is long-awaited for Scott: After his 2016 album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, failed to score any nods, he admitted that “one day, hopefully, people might finally catch on.” He took a break from a recent studio session to reflect on “finally feel[ing] recognized on that scale” and the evolution of the Grammys’ rap representation.
At this point in your career, is a Grammy nomination important to you?
Making the best music is important. It’s always dope to be noticed for your work, but you always just have to remember that as long as you’re making the best music, touching fans and moving spirits, that’s what we all do it for.
Flash back to 2016, when Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight was snubbed. What were your expectations for that album versus Astroworld?
I go in on making music. [Birds] was my second album. At some point I was just hoping to be recognized by The [Recording] Academy. But I went back in for [Astroworld] and just tried to make good music. [Getting nominated] wasn’t driving me in my mind. It’s just something that kind of like, happened.
Do you think there’s something specific about “Sicko Mode” that got the Grammy voters’ attention?
I’ve always made songs with different moods and [beat] switches. It’s how I feel a song should rock. To see that song [“Sicko Mode”] be nominated is definitely dope.
The Grammys haven’t always recognized the full spectrum of hip-hop, but this year’s rap album nominees -- from Pusha T to Mac Miller to yourself -- seem especially diverse. Has something changed?
Maybe people are getting more attuned, tapping more into this generation and the youthfulness of music. It’s so diverse and so spread across the U.S., the world and all different types of genres. Kids are driving it, so it’s showing what they’re listening to. It’s dope to see a mix of different people get more recognized for their music now.