In his first interview since 10 concertgoers were killed and hundreds more were injured at the Astroworld Festival, rapper Travis Scott on Thursday denied knowing that fans were hurt and in danger from a massive crowd surge until after last month’s Houston concert.
“And even at that moment you’re like, ‘Wait, what?’ ” he said in the nearly hour-long interview released Thursday. “People pass out, things happen at concerts, but something like that …” Scott trailed off, not completing the thought.
The Houston native later added: “It really hurts. It hurts the community, it hurts the city. It’s a lot of feelings, a lot of grieving.”
Scott’s first public comments come as more than 300 lawsuits have been filed by Astroworld attendees. Many of the lawsuits accuse the defendants, including the rapper, of negligence. A Houston firm representing more than 1,500 attendees, more than any other group seeking damages to date, announced this week that it was filing a $10 billion lawsuit against Scott and other defendants.
Scott, whose real name is Jacques Bermon Webster II, has denied the allegations of negligence in at least 11 of the lawsuits and requested that the litigation be dismissed, according to court documents obtained by KRIV, a Fox affiliate in Houston. The findings renewed backlash against Scott from family members of victims, some of whom have rejected his offer to pay funeral costs.
“Travis Scott’s attempt to escape responsibility for creating a deadly situation from which his fans could not escape is shameful and, sadly, true to form,” James Lassiter, a Houston attorney representing the family of Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old Texas A&M University student who died, and other injured festival attendees, said in a statement.
Charlamagne, co-host of “The Breakfast Club” who has been praised for his irreverent interview style, noted to Scott how some critics have described his lyrics as “demonic” and part of “a satanic ritual.” Scott, who has a history of encouraging crowds to “rage,” told the Astroworld crowd to put their middle fingers up in the sky “because they are ready to rage,” according to video. At the same time, some attendees were trying to get anyone’s attention for medical assistance in the crowd.
“You think your music is to blame?” Charlamagne asked.
Scott rejected the critics, saying he is “a man of God.”
“[There’s] always going to be an outside opinion, but for the ones that really believe in me and understand what I’m about and what I’m doing … I always preach love, I always preach understanding.”
Charlamagne partially agreed, but pushed back, telling Scott that the public outrage was over music that “does encourage people to be violent at these shows.” Scott argued that the music is intended to get his fans pumped up.
“But the energy isn’t to come and start being ultraviolent,” he said.
When asked about whether he heard any of the distress calls from fans, Scott said he did not, and could not, hear anything.
“It’s so crazy because I’m that artist too — any time you can hear something like that, you want to stop the show,” he said. “You want to make sure fans get the proper attention they need. Any time I could see anything like that, I did. I stopped it a couple times to just make sure everybody was okay. And I really just go off the fans’ energy as a collective — call and response. I just didn’t hear that.”
He emphasized that his vantage point from the stage, as well as the lights and pyrotechnics from the show, make it extremely difficult to see anything, too.
“You can only help what you can see and whatever you’re told,” he said. “Whenever they tell you to stop, you stop.”
But he acknowledged that he does feel some responsibility for what happened at the festival, saying he “felt so connected” to the fans who came out to see him.
“I have a responsibility to figure out what happened here. I have a responsibility to figure out the solution,” he said, adding that he was praying for the victims and their families. “Hopefully this takes a first step for us as artists, having more insight about what’s going on.”
Toward the end of the interview, Charlamagne pointed to the grief of the victims’ families.
“If the families are never able to forgive you, can you forgive yourself?” Charlamagne asked.
Scott paused before acknowledging “it’s tough.”
“My intentions weren’t to hurt or harm their families,” he replied. “I wanted them to have a good experience.”