Chuck D has shared an open letter in defense of Travis Scott amid continued updates regarding legal action being taken over the deaths of 10 Astroworld Festival attendees and hundreds who were injured.
As the Public Enemy co-founder detailed in the letter, Scott is a performer and “not a concert promoter.” As such, Scott—or any artist—is not operating from a place of expertise in Chuck-cited areas of live event management including “crowd control or security or emergency medical services.”
From there, Chuck criticized Live Nation and pushed back against the argument that Scott himself is to blame for the tragedy at this year’s festival.
“Folks want answers,” he said. “I’m not buying the Young Black Man did it. He’s being blamed for a crime while the old white men running the corps that Travis and his fans trusted with their lives stay quiet in the shadows, counting their money and watching their stock prices go up and up.”
The Prophets of Rage alum then questioned why deals enabling performances of this size were ever made if Scott “had a history” of irresponsibility in live performance settings. “Live Nation controlled this show,” he said, adding that the company controls “almost all” venues, which he said has resulted in multiple artists declining to speak out.
Chuck also publicly called on Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino to “do the right thing” by not letting Scott take the fall and instead make changes that could save lives in the future. “Live Nation, your stock is up,” he said. “The White Corporate Music Biz keeps cashing in on Black Pain, Trauma and Death. This has to stop yesterday. You’re part of the problem. Grow the fuck up, fix this and let us all LIVE in PEACE.”
See the full letter below.
Previously, Chuck expressed support for Scott on Twitter, including in response to fans who disagreed with him.
A frequent point of contention in discussions about the 2021 edition of Scott’s Astroworld Festival has been whether or not he had the responsibility (or even the knowledge or ability) to halt his performance. The Utopia artist’s spokesperson, former Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, addressed this during an interview with Gayle King last week.
“This notion that Travis had the ability to stop the concert is ludicrous,” Rawlings-Blake said. “They have a 59-page operations plan, and it clearly says the only two people that have the authority to stop the concert were the executive producer and the concert producer.”
On Thursday, Texas-based attorney Thomas J. Henry announced the filing of a $2 billion lawsuit on behalf of 282 plaintiffs. Scott is named in the suit alongside Live Nation, Apple Music, Drake, and NRG Stadium. Last week, nine-year-old attendee Ezra Blount became the 10th person to have died in connection with the festival.