With the backing of a major label, the precocious rapper plans to release new music in 2019, aiming to raise his profile outside of Seattle.
It felt like a triumph. Last December, buzzy local rapper Travis Thompson looked out from the stage as confetti rained down on a nearly sold-out Showbox crowd, seemingly taking it all in. The joyfully raucous affair was a milestone for the homegrown up-and-comer, having successfully jumped to the larger club after selling out Neumos six months earlier.
But for Thompson, the coming-out party wasn’t over after the last of the confetti was swept off the venue’s famously bouncy floor (which got quite the workout that night). On Tuesday, the precocious rapper announced that he signed a deal with Epic Records, a major label under the Sony empire that places him on a roster that includes hip-hop stars 21 Savage, Future and arena party-starter Travis Scott, not to mention Seattle indie-rock heavyweights Modest Mouse.
With the deal in place, Thompson has an EP and subsequent full-length album in the works. Later this month, Thompson will join “Drew Barrymore” rapper Bryce Vine on select Midwest and West Coast tour dates, though not the Seattle stop.
Thompson’s local rise was a fairly grassroots effort — at first. He initially turned heads with his airtight flows and by earnestly repping his Burien/White Center roots on his debut “Ambaum” mixtape, named for the thoroughfare he grew up near. Last summer’s “YouGood” album (produced by another Macklemore affiliate Tyler Dopps) delivered on his promise, with Thompson opening up about the anxiety he felt trying to live up to heightened expectations.
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In 2017, Thompson got a significant profile boost, guesting on Macklemore’s “Corner Store” and hitting the road with the Seattle rap star, including a hometown KeyArena gig. Thompson performed the track on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” alongside Mack and fellow Seattle rapper Dave B. Like many other locals making waves around town, Thompson is an alumnus of MoPOP’s annual 21-and-under battle of the bands, Sound Off! (which is scheduled to resume Saturday in the museum’s Sky Church) and The Residency, a youth mentorship program for aspiring hip-hop artists jointly run by MoPOP and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Thompson becomes the latest young talent from Seattle’s thriving hip-hop scene to ink a major-label deal, following viral breakout Lil Mosey, who signed with Interscope last year. Part of Thompson’s appeal has always been one of DIY-neighborhood-kid and despite the added industry muscle behind him, his management stresses that it’s still their tight-knit crew calling the creative shots. Presumably on the same ol’ porch, blunt in hand.
(Note: Video contains explicit language.)