HOUSTON -- For the first time since the Astroworld Festival tragedy, rapper and Houston native Travis Scott is talking about the night that resulted in the deaths of 10 of his fans.
In an interview posted Thursday morning to Charlamagne Tha God's YouTube channel, Scott sat down with the TV and radio personality to discuss what happened.
Scott, who headlined the festival and is the event's founder, is at the center of hundreds of lawsuits, including one for $2 billion on behalf of over 200 victims.
Scott, 30, has faced allegations that he knew fans were injured and suffering during his Nov. 5 show at NRG Park, but continued to perform, even as some fans tried in vain to grab the attention of camera operators in an effort to make the rapper stop.
He has maintained he didn't know about the fatalities or injuries at the time.
Scott was asked minutes into the nearly one-hour long interview when he knew that things went horribly wrong.
"It wasn't really until minutes into the press conference that I found out exactly what happened. Even after the show, you're just hearing things," he began. "But I didn't know the exact details until minutes before the press conference."
"And even at the moment, you're like, 'Wait. What?'" Scott continued. "You just went through something, and it's like, 'What?'"
"So you didn't know people had actually passed away?" Charlamagne asked.
"No. Until minutes before," Scott said. "The thing is, people pass out. Things happen at concerts. But something like that. It's just like..."
When asked, Scott also said that he never heard fans in the crowd screaming for help to get his attention.
"It's so crazy because I'm that artist, too, you know, anytime you hear something like that, you want to stop the show. You want to make sure fans get the proper attention they need," Scott explained. "Anytime I could see something like that, I did. I stopped it a couple times just to make sure everybody is OK. I really just go off the fans' energy as a collective. Call and response. I just didn't hear that. I've got music. I've got my in-ears. I just didn't hear that."
A detailed timeline shows that minutes after Scott took the stage at 9:02 p.m. in front of a crowd of 50,000, concertgoers were already reporting that the crowd surge started and they were having trouble standing up.
At 9:25 p.m., Scott stopped the show to address a fan who needed help. It would be one of three times he would stop his performance.
Scott wrapped up the show at about 10:12 p.m. He's seen on Apple Music's Livestream of the concert telling fans to get home safely.
During the interview with Charlamagne, Scott dived deeper into his explanation of why he claimed it was difficult to see what was going on while he was on stage.
"It's hard to tell excitement from danger, so to speak?" Charlamagne asked.
"Everything sounds the same. At the end of the day, you just hear music," Scott started. "You can only help what you can see, and whatever you're told. Whenever somebody tells you to stop, you just stop."
The interview also touched on the "rage culture" surrounding Scott's performances.
Joey Guerra, a Houston Chronicle music critic who was at the Astroworld Festival, said the so-called rage culture has been Scott's unique niche since the beginning of his performance career. He said the culture thrives on chaotic energy.
"I think, for a lot of these fans, when we talk about 'rage culture,' it's a positive thing for them," Guerra said. "When you watch, in particular, this Netflix documentary that he did, it's using that as a selling point, and we see these fans talking about being in the crowd, and you know, we see a guy on crutches, people injured and talking about the experience of being in his show. But it's all seen as something positive. I think that's kind of the danger here. There's a very kind of a delicate balancing act that's happening, and if it teeters the wrong way, unfortunately, we see what happens."
In 2017, Scott was arrested and charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct and endangering a minor after a show in Arkansas.
Police alleged that he encouraged people to rush the stage and bypass security protocols.
Charlamagne brought up rage culture during the interview, but Scott stopped short of blaming that for how the show unfolded.
"It's something I've been working on for a while of just creating these experiences and trying to show these experiences happening in a safe environment," Scott said. "Us as artists, we trust professionals to make sure that things happen and people leave safely. And this night was a regular show, it felt like to me as far as the energy. People didn't show up there to be harmful. They showed up to have a good time, and something unfortunate happened, and I think we really have to figure out what that was."
Scott defined raging as an experience of having fun, reiterating that it wasn't supposed to be about harm.
"It's about letting go and having fun. Help others, it's not about just... harm," he said. "The show isn't rambunctious for an hour. That's not what it is. I can say the energy is high."
Scott's whereabouts in the immediate moments and days after the show have also been called into question.
According to sources, Scott went to a private party at Dave & Buster's, which was part of an event scheduled with his friend and fellow artist Drake. While he was allegedly unaware of the disaster, sources said that Scott left the party sometime early that Saturday morning, Nov. 6, after learning about the deaths.
While he'd initially kept a low profile in the aftermath except for a video message to fans, Scott was spotted around Thanksgiving with actor Mark Wahlberg and Michael Jordan.
"It was just Thanksgiving. It was just good people to have around in a community," Scott told Charlamagne. "That was more of like a personal time. I think a fan came and asked for a photo."
"At the end of the day, these fans are your family, so you just feel like you lost something," Scott said.
Scott was also asked how much responsibility he felt for what happened at his show.
"I have a responsibility to figure out what happened here. I have a responsibility to figure out the solution," he began. "Hopefully this takes the first steps into us as artists having more insight into what's going on. The professionals to kind of surround and figure out more of an intel, whether it's tech, whether it's a response, to figure out that."
Charlamagne followed up on his initial question, this time asking Scott if the event's organizers, Live Nation, should bear responsibility and how much.
"They do their job of setting these things up. When we dial into what specifically happened here, I feel like they can even help figure out what happened in a sense, but at the end of the day collectively, I think everyone needs to just figure out the bottom line solution," Scott said.
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