It’s been five days since tragedy struck at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston. Authorities have described a “mass casualty incident” at the overcrowded concert, resulting in the deaths of nine people and the injury of over 300. Their causes of death haven’t been determined, but there are reports of people being trampled in the chaos. As more information comes out, more statements are made, and more press conferences are held, we seem to be left with more questions than answers.
How were things allowed to get this out of control? Why weren’t maximum capacity regulations enforced? Why didn’t Travis stop the show? And, finally, what is next for the superstar rapper?
I consider myself an enormous Travis Scott fan. I own all of his albums on vinyl and listen to them almost ad nauseam. I buy his merch, I own almost all of his sneaker collaborations, I even have a one-of-one pair of Travis Scott Air Force 1s with cleats on the bottom, gifted to me by New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier. Anytime a new Travis sneaker collab surfaces, I am first in line to say how good I think it is. But now, I’m not sure how to feel about owning all of these products and all of these shoes.
Not only am I not in the headspace to throw on a pair of his shoes, but now doesn’t feel like the right time for Nike to release a new Cactus Jack-branded product, either. Ultimately, the side effects on his sneaker business are trivial in comparison to the tragedy that took place and the lives lost at the festival, but still something to be considered.
By no means am I ready to take measures as extreme as dumping them in the trash, but I am also not running to my closet to throw a pair on to walk my dog or run some errands. Wearing them right now doesn’t quite sit right with me, because I feel that Travis let down one of the more loyal fanbases in the music industry and I think that he really is primarily responsible for this tragedy. He chose to keep performing at Astroworld, he chose to ignore the concerns of the Houston police chief, and his brand essentially encourages fans to rage until they can’t any longer.
Now, of course, none of this was intentional. If Travis had known the severity of the situation in the crowd, I do believe that he would have put a stop to or at least paused his performance more directly, but his recklessness in this scenario cannot be ignored. He has been arrested twice, once in 2015 and once in 2018, for inciting his audience to essentially start a riot. He was charged with disorderly conduct in both instances.
This is where the question of what’s next for the rapper and his sneakers really comes into play. In 2020 and 2021, Travis cemented himself among the most influential celebrities on the planet. His collaborations with Nike continue to grow at a rapid pace, he inked a deal with Fortnite, he was the first in a recent chain of celebs to get their own meal at McDonald’s, he began a partnership with Sony, and there are countless more endorsements he added to his ledger over the last two years.
Currently, the Nike SNKRS app has two pairs of Travis Scott x Nike Air Max 1s slated to release on Dec. 16, the same shoes that dropped via SNKRS Pass during Astroweek. Should Nike continue on with its plans to release these sneakers to the general public? Personally, I think the answer is no.
I have no doubt that if the Air Max 1s dropped on the 16th, they would sell out in seconds and the resale value on them would follow a similar trajectory to that of the Cactus Jack Air Max 270 collab. That being said, it doesn’t feel right to spend money on new Travis Scott products right now. From an optics perspective, it wouldn’t look right to just continue on with the scheduled release of his sneakers as if nothing happened.
Realistically, this product is likely going to have to be released, it’s just a matter of when. We know there are drops scheduled for his next two Air Max collabs, we know there are Air Trainer 1s on the way, and we know there’s at least one more Air Jordan 1 Low. Too much money is to be made for all the product that has already been created for it to just disappear.
In my opinion, Travis needs to do his best to disappear from the spotlight for a year or more. His Nike products should be delayed, his other endorsements should be paused, and the release of his highly anticipated Utopia album should probably be pushed back. In the meantime, I think Travis should continue doing what he is doing in terms of giving back. He has publicly stated that he will be paying for the funerals of the nine people who lost their lives as well as providing online counseling and therapy to anyone who was there and feels impacted by the events.
Do I think that Nike should drop Travis and stop making his sneakers? No, absolutely not. But I really do think that the world needs a bit of a break from Travis Scott, and maybe Travis Scott needs a bit of a break from the world, too.
UPDATED 11/15: Nike announced via its SNKRS app today that it is postponing the launch of the upcoming Travis Scott x Nike Air Max 1 out of respect for “everyone impacted by the tragic events at the Astroworld Festival.” The full update from Nike appears below.