Travis Scott Talks Creative Directing Gucci Mane's Trippy 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards Performance
Gucci Mane's opening set at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards on Tuesday night was fitting of a homecoming king.
The Atlanta rapper emerged onto a dimly lit stage with a full-length fur coat and his frequent collaborator, producer Zaytoven, stroking the keys of a white piano for the 2009 hit "First Day Out" beside him. They soon transitioned into his 2016 offering "1st Day Out Tha Feds" and brought out Travis Scott, Young Thug and Quavo of Migos for special renditions of "Last Time" and "Pick Up the Phone."
Scott wasn't just on performance duty, though. The Missouri City rapper also served as creative director of Gucci Mane's performance after Guwop himself called in the favor.
"When he got out of jail, he called me and said, 'I was listening to your music in jail. I worked out to your music and I want to make music with you,'" Scott tells Billboard over e-mail of meeting Mane following his prison release on May 26. "I flew myself to ATL and we recorded some songs. I wasn't going to originally do the BET Awards but he called me and asked me to creatively go in. I then Got on the phone with [the Awards' executive producer] Jesse Collins and it all worked out."
Viewers -- both at the awards show taping in Atlanta's Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in September and at home watching the Oct. 4 telecast -- saw the trippy effects in Mane's wintery, black-and-white wonderland transform into a fiery red and purple nirvana for the "Pick Up The Phone" performance. "It looked exactly the same [in real-life]," Scott said. "That trippy visual was inspired by what I was seeing in my mind when I was using my phone calling the same person over and over."
He also took cues from both his and Gucci's nicknames. "Heat and snow was inspiration. La Flare is snow -- he's the ice cream man -- and La Flame -- the heat," he explained. However, there was one icy component that did not make the final cut. "We always had this idea of snow and ice. We originally wanted snow but we were told it could affect the power would set the stage on fire."
Despite the lack of snow, BET let Scott run wild with the performance and were open to his ideas. "We did this with no budget," added Scott while Gucci only made one request. "We just highlighted the vision of him coming home and bringing back the nostalgic feeling of him and Zaytoven -- his first producer -- performing live together."
The bigger picture in Scott's mind, he explained, was simply giving young artists a platform. "I just want to highlight that as young artists, my performance with Young Thug and Quavo was incredible," he said. "I challenge every award show to let us young artists perform."