Travis Scott’s launch plan for his long-awaited Utopia album involved a release-day concert at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, which was canceled due to “complex production issues” after reports of pushback from the Egyptian government. Well, he found another historical site to perform at, and he brought along Kanye West for the occasion.
Scott performed his first concert in support of Utopia today at Circo Maximo aka Circus Maximus, an ancient Roman chariot racing track that gave its name to the movie Scott released in tandem with Utopia. Although the set began with the first three tracks from Utopia, he did not perform the album straight through, instead mixing in hits from throughout his career. Early in the set, he brought out Kanye West to perform “Praise God” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” It was Ye’s highest-profile public appearance since he pivoted hard into antisemitism last year, then walked back his stance months later without really apologizing for it.
Onstage, Scott announced, “There is no Utopia without Kanye West. There is no Travis Scott without Kanye West. There is no Rome without Kanye West. Make some noise for Ye.” The first statement, about how Utopia couldn’t exist without Kanye, seems true; Kanye has at least one production credit on the album, and as No Bells has reported, discarded beats from Kanye songs are all over the tracklist. The second statement, that there’s no Travis Scott without Kanye West, also seems right; Scott has long functioned as Kanye’s mini-me, creating albums that match peak Kanye’s bloat and bombast without much semblance of human emotion. As for Scott’s final claim about the origins of Rome… it seems specious.
In other Travis Scott news, Utopia just debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 477,000 equivalent album units, the third biggest tracking week of 2023 and the biggest for a rap or R&B album. Of those units, 243,000 derive from streaming (330.68 million on-demand track streams), 252,000 are actual sales, and 1,000 stem from individual track sales. The album sold 79,000 vinyl copies, the largest for a rap or R&B album since Luminate (formerly Nielsen SoundScan) began tracking sales in 1991.
Two songs from the album debuted in the top 10 of the Hot 100: the Drake collab “Meltdown” at #3 and the Playboi Carti collab “FE!N” at #5. Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night” returned to #1 for a 15th nonconsecutive week, tying Harry Styles’ record for the longest run at #1 by a solo male artist (set last year with “As It Was”).