Hometown pride is an essential component of many rappers’ identities. After all, where would Biggie be without Brooklyn, Kanye without Chicago or Drake without Toronto? For Travis Thompson, his turf is Seattle and he credits the city for inspiring his choice of profession. “When you listen to Seattle music, you’re getting a story and a feeling. The music itself sounds like the city makes you feel,” Thompson says. “There’s happy music, but also the sad and depressing music because it’s raining all the time. And sometimes in a chord, you almost feel like you’re in a forest.” A native to the Pacific Northwest city, Thompson developed a palate for the sound of Seattle by attending local hip-hop shows as a teenager and when he began making music himself, he chose to emulate the essence of his stomping ground. “As a kid, I saw the Blue Scholars and Common Market, I think seeing their shows inspired me to be part of the scene and have people in this city come out for me.”
Thompson began experimenting with making music while still in high school and at 19, began releasing tracks and opening for other hip-hop acts in Seattle. But, before he could commit to his career as an artist, he worked several part-time jobs to pay the bills. “The last place I worked was a preschool and once my streams started getting up there, my music income matched my other income,” Thompson explains. “Then that summer, right when I was planning on going back into work at the school, Macklemore took me on tour and I’ve been an independent artist since.”
For an on-the-rise artist, getting picked up by a Grammy award-winning rapper is the opportunity of a lifetime and it allowed Thompson to follow in the footsteps of a true superstar. “[Macklemore] caught me at a critical point,” Thompson says. “I didn’t know anything or have any touring experience. I didn’t really have fans and only had a couple thousand followers.” Thompson went from having no touring experience whatsoever to performing for crowds of thousands overnight. And it was the pressure to perform at Macklemore’s level which lit a fire in Thompson and pushed him to hit the ground running once hw returned to Seattle.
“Macklemore has helped out a lot of people in Seattle and they haven’t really done what I feel like they could have done with the opportunity. I couldn’t be one of those people and I had to go super hard,” Thompson shares. “Our mentality was that we had more eyes than ever on us and needed to figure out what we were going to do with it. And a few months after my tour, I put out my album.” For his first album, Thompson took notes from the local artists who’d inspired him to enter the industry and insisted on producing a sound that was authentically Seattle. This meant working exclusively with Seattle producers and carrying out a narrative with each track.
As an artist, Thompson has made a point to hold on to his roots and shows audiences what Seattle is made of. But, through producing his debut album, “Reckless Endangerment,” he came to understand that being in this role was an opportunity to express truth and create an audio anthology of his experiences that leaves listeners excited for the next chapter. “When you listen to my music, you get exactly who I am as a person and experience not only a feeling, but a narrative,” Thompson says. “It’s all one big story that’s leading to something great.”