by Rachel Close
Travis Scott, the uber-popular rapper who has risen higher and higher to fame every time he opens his mouth, just released a song with the electro-pop legend M.I.A. This track is filled with classic Travis Scott flair, dreamy pop-psychedelic beats, smooth flowing catchy raps, and even an appearance from frequent collaborator Young Thug. However, for some reason, despite the fact that it was a near-perfect Travis song, fans were outraged at the appearance of pop legend M.I.A.
The fans of Travis Scott all come from a generation that worships mumble rap and SoundCloud rappers. Nothing is wrong with this on a surface level, at least not to me, a music fan who can find enjoyment in those genres. But what is wrong is to disrespect a legendary musician because her work doesn’t fit into the Gen Z formula of internet rap music.
The majority of the crowd that comes for Travis Scott’s music is too young to know or appreciate the artistry of M.I.A. and the ground that she broke throughout her career. She was one of the first artists to kickstart her career on the internet, something that Travis Scott also did. That fact alone suggests how she was not only an inspiration to his work but also to how he rose to relevancy.
The disrespect towards M.I.A.’s expansive body of work when young Travis Scott fans overlook it is overwhelming. M.I.A.’s legendary career spans nearly twenty years, touching on topics like political violence, poverty, revolution, gender, sexual stereotypes, and war—all topics that she experienced firsthand growing up in war-torn Sri Lanka. Not only has her music given a voice to those who didn’t have one in popular culture, she’s been nominated for an Academy Award, Grammy, Brit Award, and Mercury Prize among others for her body of work. The influence that she has had upon the culture and the electro-pop-rap world is immeasurable, and the young people with something to say about her ten-second verse in a Travis Scott song obviously do not understand that.
Along with the disrespect towards M.I.A. herself comes disrespect for Travis’s vision for his work. Since the beginning of his career, he has cited M.I.A. as one of his top influences. Vocally disliking her verse completely contradicts being a fan of Travis in the first place, because the influence she has had on the pure sound of his music is obvious if you listen to both. Scott even has a song on his first mixtape Owl Pharaoh titled “MIA.”
All the comments that kids leave reduce M.I.A. to someone who is “just a feature on a Travis Scott song,” which is completely ridiculously rude and disrespectful to her legendary career. One comment reads, “how much did M.I.A. pay him to be on his song?” which is funny because, according to Travis, he invited her after he participated in her new album. In the same interview, Travis says she’s one of his “biggest inspirations” and “favorite humans.”
If these young kids who worship Travis want to understand his work better, understand how his ideas and sounds are shaped, and respect him as an artist, they would take the time to research his inspirations. Maybe then they’d realize how much M.I.A. brings to this track, and how just because something sounds “different” doesn’t mean that it ruins a song. Most of the time, when it’s someone as legendary as M.I.A., it makes the track better.
Rachel Close is a senior communications major with a minor in writing at Pitt-Bradford. Rachel has passions for music and vinyl record collecting, and she likes to incorporate those passions into her writing as often as possible. Rachel hopes to be able to write about music as part of her future career. She also writes poems, one of which will be featured in the upcoming issue of Baily’s Beads.