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Travis Scott Performs Icy ‘Mafia’ at Billboard Music Awards in First Post-Astroworld TV Performance

at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards
Brian Friedman for Billboard

In his first televised performance since the Astroworld disaster last fall, Travis Scott performed his song “Mafia” on the Billboard Music Awards, on a polar-themed set reminiscent of “Game of Thrones.”

The camera slowly zoomed in on him inside a cave-like room framed by a polar scene, wearing a fur-and-white outfit as he launched into the song surrounded by similarly garbed dancers. All of them lurched around fake bolders and ice slabs; the scene would suddenly lurch into a surreal, blurry black background like some parallel dimension.

He performed a brief segment of a new song — presumably from his forthcoming album, “Utopia” — before the performance ended abruptly, followed, naturally enough, by Morgan Wallen accepting an award presented by Pusha T.

Scott was nominated for top dance/electronic song alongside Spanish producer HVME, for the electronic remix of Scott’s 2016 “Goosebumps.”

This is Scott’s first televised appearance and second public performance since ten people were killed when the crowd surged at his Astroworld festival in Houston last fall (the first happened on May 8, for Miami Grand Prix). The rapper was championed by BBMAs host and executive producer, Sean “Diddy” Combs who in an interview with Revolt Black News said he would be “uncanceling the canceled,” referring to the backlash against Scott.

Scott wasn’t the only controversial performance choice of the night, Morgan Wallen also had his first on-air performance since he came under fire in 2021 after a video was released of the singer shouting the N-word.

This is just the first of many Scott performances lined up for the remainder of the year. He recently announced appearances at three installments of the Primavera Festival in South America this fall. The long-running festival, which launched in Spain but has since expanded to Southern California and South America, is being held in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Santiago, Chile and also features Bjork, Lorde and Arctic Monkeys.

Scott has kept a relatively low profile in the months following the Astroworld tragedy last November. He offered to pay the funeral costs for the victims and has spoken publicly about the tragedy, which led to the cancelation of several concert appearances and a collaboration with the high fashion brand Dior.

More recently, billboards for Scott’s long-delayed “Utopia” album appeared on the highway to Coachella before this year’s festival — signaling its release in the coming weeks. “Utopia” will follow Scott’s third album, 2018’s “Astroworld” and the “Jackboys” compilation from the following year. He’s released several tracks including “Mafia” and “Escape Plan,” both of which arrived just days before Astroworld.

In March, Scott announced Project Heal, an event safety initiative with a $5 million funding commitment backed by a long-term series of philanthropy and investment efforts.