Travis Scott

TRAVIS SCOTT, BRANDON CHEV and CAM SMITH as part of CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK at the Opera House (735 Queen East),.

TRAVIS SCOTT, BRANDON CHEV and CAM SMITH as part of CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Wednesday (May 7), 9 pm, all ages. $22.50. See listing.

“It’s been a minute since you’ve seen a weird nigga from the corner put it on for the South,” raps Travis Scott on his new single, 1975.

“I feel like people have an imaginary vision of Houston,” the emcee explains over the phone from a “a super-undisclosed location” – befitting his accessible yet mysterious demeanour (no clear shots of his face in his press photos).

The freshly leaked track (in fact, we don’t yet know the song’s official name) demonstrates a refined maximalist sound that feels less indebted to his influences (Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Future) and more like a burgeoning star finding his own frequency.

It’s also one of the first songs where Scott posits himself as the torchbearer for a new era of Houston rap.

Just three years after teaching himself to produce and engineer his own music, Scott is one of the industry’s most exciting, star-ready producer-rappers. Last year he signed to Kanye West’s production label (Very G.O.O.D. Beats) and scored credits on two of the year’s biggest releases – Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail and West’s Yeezus.

And, more importantly for his solo ambitions, he also released Owl Pharaoh, a promising debut specializing in gargantuan 808s and brooding synths.

After a “super-awesome” SXSW trip, Scott went overseas, inspiring Houston To Osaka, a compelling lo-fi tour doc that chronicles his first headlining gigs in Japan.

“The tour to Japan was a trip,” he says, sounding humbled but confident. “We sold out both shows, 1,500 people. It was one of the best experiences of my life.”

But in a fresh career, it still didn’t make Scott’s “favourite show ever” short list. His top prize goes to his first performance in Los Angeles, at the El Rey Theatre, which featured a rowdy Kanye West cameo. “That was my first headlining tour and one of the early moments of feeling the complete confidence of Okay, I got this,'” he says.

Now more than comfy onstage, his MO is to highlight the new, youthful culture of the 21st century’s most influential regional rap scene.

“It’s great to see the love Houston gets from artists around the world, but I also feel like people talk about it but don’t show it, because they’re not actually from there,” he says.

“Now I feel like it’s my responsibility to show people what it’s really like culturally.” | @nowtoronto

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