Saturday night should have been a repeat dance in the “rodeo” for Travis Scott. The Mo City rapper did as he customarily does during his shows: beckon the crowd to reach a level of energy and chaos they didn’t have coming into the night. He does this every time out and every single time, inspiring a questionable leap of faith from fans. Do we oblige every command or don’t we? Naturally, most go on pure free will, like at a Terminal 5 show in New York City in late April. Scott fans climbed the railings a story above the venue floor to prove a point. Some fell. Some jumped. This isn’t on Scott, it’s on the fans who want to be the living proof that their favorite artist has the best, craziest live show in the world.
Instead, Saturday night concluded for Travis Scott in a way that his Lollapalooza set did nearly two full years ago: with him in handcuffs. Following a show at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion outside Fayetteville, Scott was charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct and endangering the welfare of a minor, similar charges to what he faced in Chicago after Lollapalooza 2015. He pled guilty then and was ordered to court supervision. The charges from Saturday's Arkansas arrest read almost identical to the earlier ones, right down to endangerment of a minor.
For Scott, this is nothing new. For a lot of artists, particularly within the younger splash of rap acts, the stand-alone “Jay Z” style of stage performing is dead. Instead, these artists embrace a punk-rock aesthetic that calls for stage diving, scaffold climbing and general anarchy. Rae Sremmurd has done it. Scott's most direct rage inducer ancestor, Kid Cudi, adopted the title "Mr. Rager." B L A C K I E is a noise pioneer for whom raging is damn near a speciality. ONYX were the "hip hop mosh" pioneers according to Russell Simmons. Kanye West used the set design of his St. Pablo tour just for moshing. Method Man and Redman pushed the idea more in the mid to late '90s of it from a rap aspect. Well, unless you count KRS-One throwing PM Dawn’s Price Be off the stage on the day after Christmas 1993. Rappers want to be rock stars again, and dabble in all the pushed buttons and civil disobedience that goes with it.
Hip-hop believes in phases, and strong ones at that. Through fashion, loud iconography or stylish pivots in creativity, a hard change is now noticeable. When its “rock” phase entered in the mid-2000s, the fashion became more acceptable than the stage antics. Wallet chains, skulls, it looked more as if Fall Out Boy had injected itself into your wardrobe choice more than idolizing Suicidal Tendencies, Trash Talk or the Misfits. It has come back around. Lil Uzi Vert idolizes Marilyn Manson, the shock-goth rocker of the ‘90s who once made conservative moms across America pray their kids weren’t listening to “The Dope Show” or “The Beautiful People.” He’s willing to spill into crowds as if he were a WWE performer looking to get the biggest pop. His music, which often decries fatalism and yipped-up romance, has secured him a spot as an emerging festival mainstay. The more hip-hop spills into being a genre capable of moshing and more, the more the mainstream media is going to latch onto it with the same dangerous stigmas that used to befall rock before it completely went by the wayside.
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LIL UZI VERT JUMPING INTO THE CROWD AT ROLLING LOUD pic.twitter.com/1wfnG6dQfp— (@uzivert) May 8, 2017
For Scott, another arrest for starting a near-riot is a feather in the cap. The charges were only brought up because an officer of the law got hurt in the fracas and overzealous fans went out of their way to prove a point. Sadly, all of that is going to be brought upon the Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight artist, because he’s the face of it all. Much like 21 Savage beckons the call of middle fingers and dead-eyed angst, the same can be said for a wide number of young artists. Every act they choose to mimic or imitate from decades prior, some of whose entire existence outstretches their life spans by ten or even 15 years, is now being brought back to life.
I wholeheartedly doubt kids who were born in the mid-'90s could tell you a thing about late-‘70s/early ‘80s punk rock. I doubt they could even lay a band on you beyond Nirvana, mainly because Nirvana is an introduction to rock music for literally anyone these day. To those people, it doesn’t matter. Even if their music has been categorized as hip-hop or rap, their stages shows aren’t. It's a weird dichotomy to consider when hip-hop's gatekeepers would rather the kids study the music of their forefathers, when their forefathers could care less about the Treacherous Three or the Fat Boys.
Raging is a thing in hip-hop. It’s been around for a while but now it’s coming back en vogue, with arrests and giant stage dives to prove it.