The 2021 Astroworld Festival, Travis Scott’s hometown festival that would mark the event’s return following a 2020 pandemic cancelation, came to an abrupt end after a crowd crush incident resulted in the death of multiple attendees.
While eight people died on the evening of Nov. 5, not to mention hundreds having been reported to have sustained injuries of varying severity, two more attendees later died while hospitalized, bringing the total count of victims to 10. Among those, the youngest was nine-year-old Ezra Blount, whose family turned down an offer from Scott to cover funeral costs.
The suit was far from the only instance of legal action being taken against Scott over the tragedy. One that received particularly heightened attention was the $750 million lawsuit (in which Scott and Drake, who also performed at the festival, were both initially named) filed shortly after the fatal crowd crush incident. The suit was filed on behalf of at least 125 festival attendees, including one of the victims, 21-year-old Axel Acosta.
Additionally, Blount’s family asked a judge earlier this year to step in regarding Scott’s public announcements about charity initiatives, arguing that such announcements were merely part of a marketing strategy. A Scott spokesperson later told Complex and other outlets that these allegations “fly in the face of logic” due to Scott having been involved with charitable endeavors “for years.”
As we approach one year since the tragedy, Complex is taking a look at what has happened since, including Scott’s initial statements on the incident and his eventual return to the stage. The long-teased Utopia album, meanwhile, is still expected to be arriving soon.
“I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night,” Scott said in a statement shared to social media on Nov. 6. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.”
In the same statement, Scott said he was “committed to working together” with the larger Houston community. He also thanked local police and fire officers, as well as venue officials at NRG Park, where Astroworld was set.
In a follow-up statement, this time shared in the form of an Instagram video, Scott said he was “devastated” by the Astroworld Festival deaths.
“My fans really mean the world to me and I always just really wanna leave them with a positive experience,” he said, adding that he couldn’t initially have imagined “the severity of the situation” at the time.
In a nearly hour-long interview with Charlamagne tha God shared in December, Scott spoke of the “emotional rollercoaster” he said he had been on since being made aware of the extent of the tragedy.
He also addressed photos that had circulated showing him out in public with Michael Jordan and Mark Wahlberg (Scott said the images stemmed from a fan approaching him and asking for a pic while he was having “personal time” amid the Thanksgiving holiday) and pushed back against how “raging” was being presented in the tragedy’s wake.
“Raging is just—it doesn’t have a textbook definition—but, you know, in concerts we’ve grown it to be this experience of having fun,” he said at the time. “It’s not about just, ‘Oh, harm.’ It’s not about that. It’s about just letting go and having fun, you know, help others [and] love each other. It’s not about harm. That’s not what it’s all about.”
Scott also asserted that artists, in general, enter any given performance with the assumption that safety officials on the scene have the ability to keep any issues that may arise under control.
“Us, as artists, we trust professionals to make sure that things happen and people leave safely,” he said.
Concert safety, also a topic that received attention during the aforementioned Charlamagne interview, was announced that same month to be the focus of a new initiative involving Scott.
Per a TMZ report at the time, Scott had aligned with the U.S. Conference of Mayors for the push, participation in which came from more than 1,400 different cities. The reported aim of Scott having met with the USCM was to ultimately see the formation of a group comprised of various representatives across all facets of the live music industry.
In March of this year, details of Scott’s Project HEAL were announced, including its “fourth and final pillar” of tackling safety concerns by providing funding for the USCM’s Task Force of Event Safety. As part of this pillar, per a press release, a “comprehensive report” featuring recommendations from various experts is expected to be released.
News of the birth of Wolf Webster, Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner’s second child together, broke on Feb. 2, i.e. 2/2/22.
The two previously welcomed a daughter, Stormi, and their growing family was seen in a Father’s Day-commemorating post from Kylie in June.
While the sequel to Kanye West’s Donda,—which, like its predecessor, was given the live performance art treatment with an event in Miami—still hasn’t received (and may never) a more traditional streaming release, the Stem Player-housed project has still managed to have an outsized impact on the industry at large.
In terms of Scott, the project was notable for its inclusion of La Flame on the tentatively titled track “Pablo,” a version of which also received an unveiling at the aforementioned Miami event at LoanDepot Park.
As touched on above, Scott’s Project HEAL sees the artist taking a multi-pronged approach to a variety of issues, including by way of providing $5 million to go toward various “community-focused initiatives.” The larger Project HEAL endeavor, meanwhile, is divided into four pillars: HBCU scholarships, mental health, an expansion of the CACT.US Youth Design Center, and funding for the USCM’s Task Force of Event Safety.
When reflecting on the personal impetuses behind HEAL in a note to fans, Scott noted that “giving back” and related efforts are something he’s “always done.”
The announcement wasn’t without controversy, however, as it quickly spurred criticism (as reported at the time by TMZ and Rolling Stone) from family members of nine-year-old Ezra Blount, who was among those who died at the 2021 edition of the Astroworld Festival.
In short, it was agued that statements like those at the heart of the Project HEAL announcement could, in theory, have an impact on potential jurors in the future. Thus, the family had focused on pushing for a gag order to either be removed or altered in response to this. A Scott rep later responded to this argument, saying that allegations from lawyer Robert Hilliard were “bogus” due to Scott having shown support for charity efforts “for years.”
Though not billed or treated as official performances in the traditional sense of the word, the first quarter of 2022 did include a few Travis Scott performances.
Marking what was widely reported as the first time Scott had taken to the stage since the 2021 Astroworld Festival tragedy was a short house party set in the Bel Air area amid festivities leading up to the Oscars ceremony. Among those on hand for the set were Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Venus and Serena Williams, and more.
Other “unofficial” performances included a surprise set during a Coachella afterparty the following month.
While Travis’ Donda 2 feature was a Stem Player exclusive, his appearance in the April-unleashed “Hold That Heat” track from producer Southside was not. Future is also featured on the song, which ultimately received an official video directed by Philip Andelman.
In May, Travis Scott brought a pair of songs (including an unreleased presumed Utopia track) to the stage as part of the 2022 edition of the Billboard Music Awards. Stepping into hosting duties for the ceremony itself was none other than Diddy, who has publicly defended Travis in connection with the Astroworld Festival controversy multiple times.
“For the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday I made a request, I made a demand. I said ‘My brother Travis Scott has to perform. I’m executive producing, he has to perform,’ and NBC said ‘Yes,’” Diddy told fans on Instagram ahead of the show.
Preceding the BBMAs performance by about a week was Scott having performed in public for the first time since the tragedy.
Through his Cactus Jack Foundation, Scott announced in May that $1 million in scholarships for students at HBCUs had been awarded to 100 individuals set to graduate this year.
“Excellence abounds in every Black household, but too often opportunity does not—and Black students are left behind or counted out,” Scott said at the time when announcing the award, which is done through his Waymon Webster Scholarship Fund, named after his grandfather. “So that’s what my family and I set out to change. We congratulate all 100 scholarship recipients this year. I know we will see great things from them—and we are already looking forward to increasing our work next year.”
A then-new Nike Air Max 1 collaboration was the subject of an exclusive Wheat colorway raffle in May, with the official Cactus Jack IG page confirming that a donation would be made in support of Project Heal “in honor of this release.”
Meanwhile, TMZ said at the time that sources had estimated Scott’s release had the potential of making “millions of dollars in proceeds.”
After the usual hype and anticipation, the Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Low Reverse Mocha collab arrived in July via a late-night raffle on Scott’s webshop. A source later confirmed to Complex that more than two million entries had been submitted for the Reverse Mocha Lows during the raffle period.
The millions-drawing raffle, meanwhile, was preceded by the release of a Jordan 1 collab campaign clip featuring Javon Walton of Euphoria.
In line with prior instances of similarly philanthropic-minded releases, a spokesperson for La Flame confirmed to Complex that a portion of proceeds derived from the capsule’s release would be given to the multifaceted initiative detailed above, Project HEAL. The exact portion of such proceeds set to be donated, however, was not made public.
Ahead of the surprise appearance (and ensuing medley set), Scott’s name had been publicly floated by fans and industry insiders alike as a possible addition to the lineup after Ye decided to call off his previously scheduled headlining set.
While an initial comment from Rolling Loud co-founder Tariq Cherif suggested Travis wasn’t able to do so because the venue wouldn’t allow it in connection with the Astroworld Festival deaths, a spokesperson later clarified that Travis wasn’t able to join as a headliner because it simply “couldn’t work” on such short notice.
Speaking with Brenton Blanchet for Complex in July, Nav revealed Scott had the initial idea of the track appearing on the upcoming new album.
“It was sent to Cash, and then Trav said, ‘You should get on this and put it on your album,’” he said at the time. “Cash decided, ‘Yo, this song is big and we should make it the single.’”
Starting in mid-September, Scott’s Road to Utopia—billed as a “nightclub residency experience”—will be staged at Resorts World Las Vegas’ Zouk Nightclub.
At the time the residency was first announced, seven shows were scheduled. Additionally, the possibility of attendees being treated to new music (presumably from Utopia) seems like a high one.
“His electric performances will pair perfectly with our immersive atmosphere, bringing our guests an unmatched show unlike anything else they can find in Las Vegas,” Zouk Group CEO Andrew Li said when rolling out the Road to Utopia schedule.
The O2 Arena was the ultimate site of Travis Scott’s full-scale return to live performances in August.
As reported at the time, high demand for tickets resulted in a second date being added at the London venue. Fans were quick to share footage on social media of Scott performing the tentatively titled “God’s Country,” the title of which was previously connected with a (seemingly) since-scrapped iteration of a Ye album.
TMZ later reported that Scott broke a regional merch sales record at the venue, citing “sources close to Travis” as having claimed that merch items at the venue brought in more than $1 million, topping a record previously held by BTS.
After the shows, Scott suggested he would now be turning his creative focus toward finishing his new album.