She’s a billionaire business mogul. He’s the most electric rapper in the game. How did they come together? How do they make it work? And can they survive the Kardashian Curse? Mark Anthony Green sits down with the world’s most powerhouse power couple.
It’s Kylie, from the jump, who controls the tempo. The youngest Jenner and her well-oiled glam squad bounce around Milk Studios, in Hollywood, with supreme purpose. Her half-male, half-female contingent is like Ocean’s Eleven, except with more crop tops and lip fillers. And instead of a case full of phony casino chips, there’s just a roller bag full of luscious hair extensions that need meticulous untangling. Midway through the shoot, the photographer and stylists start praising a particular photo on the monitor, but King Kylie shuts it down. “People are going to turn it into a meme,” she says, like some kind of social-media medium. “Let’s move to something else.” She later tells me that Kim and Kanye are the ones who taught her to be more assertive on creative things. “I just want the best cover photos for me and for you guys.”
Joining her in the studio is her 27-year-old partner, Travis Scott. They’ve been together for about a year, but this is their first photo shoot together. What’s the binding force between a rage-thirsty rock star from Missouri City, Texas, and a beauty mogul of Calabasas royalty? Other than their newborn baby girl, Stormi? What’s that shared frequency that’s responsible for the most dynamic celebrity couple of modern times? We’ll get to that, but what I can report is that it’s not a mutual admiration for posing in front of a seamless. Taking pictures is a lucrative sport for one and medieval torture for the other.
Travis has a much smaller team with him. Just his manager—who works from a laptop the entire shoot—and a bag of what smells like some of California’s loudest weed. Between shots, he just kind of paces around, with his head down and his lanky limbs covered in expensive clothes. A wall or photo light would stop him and send him in a different direction. He looks like one of those Microsoft screen savers from the ’90s, careening off the edges of the monitor. “He was whispering to me the whole time,” Kylie tells me afterward, smirking. “He just doesn’t like taking the photos.” Travis hates anything that slows him down. (He even hates restaurants; the man despises wasting time in restaurants.) And he admits that he’s “impatient as a motherfucker” during photo shoots, despite really liking the end result. But it isn’t simply young angst that makes hurry-up-and-wait painful for Travis. It’s “la flame”—the internal fire, the rage, “the piss,” as he calls it, aggression in its funnest form. It’s why Travis, a decade into a notoriously energetic career, has made his case for having the best live show in hip-hop history.
A few years ago, at a nightclub, I saw Travis swing from a chandelier while performing. One of the gold baroque leaves he held on to for dear life cut his hand, and he was beginning to bleed pretty badly. He paused for a second. Smiled. Then pressed his bloody palm against the ceiling, leaving a red handprint, and kept rapping. That energy, that commitment—that’s why there’s an entire generation of young tattooed daredevil rappers coming up behind him who look to Travis as the source, and who’ve taken his lead.
That may be the thing between the two of them, the binding force: influence. Not in some Adweek marketing sense—in direct-contact-with-the-people kind of way. When they say jump, kids will do it…off a balcony. (That actually happened to Travis.) These two make the mosh pits, memes, and moments that trend and move the needle. They forge 2017’s most overused four-letter word—vibe—and they’re masters at 2018’s: wave. You can’t pause when catching a wave. And that’s their art. Their common thread. Which helps explain how their relationship went from zero to Stormi in just a few months.
“We don’t go on dates,” Kylie tells me. In fact, their first date wasn’t really a date. They were at Coachella—neither can remember where, exactly, they first met—and the whole thing just turned into a hang that went well. While she tells me about it, she begins to giggle about the story she told Travis that got his attention that night. The story wasn’t anything special, but that’s what made it real. How’d you meet your significant other? It starts normal, right?
But then their second date, by all definitions, was anything but normal. They caught the wave. Kylie Jenner—and nearly 100 million followers of hers—just abandoned her life in California and took off on tour with Travis Scott.
“Coachella was one of the stops on his tour,” she explains. “So he said, ‘I’m going back on tour—what do we want to do about this?’ Because we obviously liked each other.”
What do we want to do about this? That’s an early-2000s Matthew McConaughey big-screen-heartthrob line. Holy shit. “And I was like, ‘I guess I’m going with you,’ ” she said, to complete the scene.