This week, Sean “Diddy” Combs says he demanded that Travis Scott would have an opportunity to perform at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards, which Diddy is executive producing. It would be Travis’ first major performance since the 2021 Astroworld Festival tragedy. “I’m uncanceling the canceled,” Diddy said, referring to the backlash against Travis as the face of a tragedy in which 10 people died of compression asphyxia during his performance.
It’s fitting that Diddy would be one of the people, along with Kanye, standing with Travis and trying to bring him back to the stage. Diddy is familiar with being lambasted as the face of a venue tragedy, because of the 1991 City College of New York incident, which has eerie parallels with Astroworld. 30 years ago, nine people died and 29 more were seriously injured after an overflow of people inside the CCNY gymnasium caused people to be trampled. Diddy and Heavy D were co-sponsoring a celebrity basketball game and concert with superstars like LL Cool J and Mike Tyson in attendance.
Both tragedies happened because of similar factors: both events were overcrowded, and the death of security couldn’t hold the throngs of people who forced their way into the venues without paying. In Travis’ case, thousands of non-paying fans stormed the festival grounds at Houston’s NRG Field (after Travis tweeted and deleted encouragement for them to do so). For Diddy, thousands of people rushed the locked doors of the CCNY gym after security had closed the overcrowded venue. Both events were overpacked because people sought an up-close glimpse at superstars.
Travis and others involved with the festival are facing $2 billion in lawsuits, and the Houston rapper has caught flack from the families of victims who feel like he’s been publicly unsympathetic to the people who passed.
Despite all the ire he’s facing, recent album teasers indicate that Travis is trying to go forward with his career, and Diddy, who has an idea of the weight of the guilt he may be feeling, is trying to look out for him. Diddy’s career vaulted him into the stratosphere after the CCNY incident, as his ability to find talent and star quality carried him through the controversy. Now, Diddy’s career timeline is stocked with so much other history that many young fans even know about the CCNY incident, which came back into the news cycle after Astroworld. But the tragedy is unforgettable for CCNY victims and their loved ones, as it is for those of Astroworld.
It’s unclear what effect Astroworld will have on Travis’ Billboard viability and future concert prospects. There are a lot of questions to be answered, but Diddy is trying to help Travis back into the spotlight out of a subtle solidarity. Below is a refresher of what happened in 1991.