Travis Scott has been out of the spotlight since last November’s Astroworld Festival tragedy that saw 10 attendees die due to a deadly crowd surge. But the 31-year-old rapper made a big public reemergence last night at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, where he debuted a new song as part of his first live performance in more than half a year.
Scott performed two songs at the show. The first was “Mafia,” the J. Cole collaboration which he originally released just days before the Astroworld festival. The other, “Lost Forever,” is a collaboration with Westside Gunn and James Blake that Scott has been teasing for close to a year. The rapper had been scheduled to perform at Coachella 2022, but wound up being removed from the lineup, though he did play a quick set at one of the festival’s afterparties.
Diddy, who hosted and produced the award show for the first time, said he “made a demand” that Scott perform during the ceremony, and the announcement a few days before the BBMAs was met with backlash.
“As a musical family, none of us are saints; none of us are without things that happen to them in life. So one of the things I’m doing directly is un-canceling the canceled,” Diddy told Billboard. “That’s breaking news because people haven’t been about uncanceling. But canceling is a trend that needs to stop.” Diddy drew a connection between the controversies around Scott and country star Morgan Wallen, who was filmed using the n-word in February 2021, and talked during one of his early monologues about how the show was a celebration of second chances.
In March, TMZ broke news that Scott was donating $5 million to a variety of “community initiatives,” which includes HBCU scholarships and providing some funding for the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Task Force on Event Safety. Some of the lawyers representing those killed and injured at Astroworld objected to the announcement, claiming that it could “influence possible jurors and rebuild his reputation ahead of a potential trial” in trial over his liability, per the Associated Press. (There have been hundreds of lawsuits filed against both Scott and event promotion company Live Nation.)
Scott’s return to the public eye also fuels theories that he is going to use this moment to restart the rollout for his fourth studio album, Utopia, as well as other facets of the Travis Scott Machine—his next Nike collaboration, an Air Max 1 and Air Trainer 1 collection, is rumored for a May 20 release.