Skip to main content

One Video: Way Back by Travis Scott

One Video: Way Back by Travis Scott


James Harden vs. the Twitter curse

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video? Maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.

This week’s video: “Way Back” by Travis Scott

Lizzie: To earn the coveted One Video slot this week, Travis Scott had to compete with a Foo Fighters video, a Major Lazer lyric video filmed on a GoPro, the hype of this YouTube singer with two first names, and a meme of Scott and his girlfriend, Kylie Jenner. He did earn it, though, delivering us more than seven minutes of video footage and dozens of pairs of Adidas track pants to work with.

The song, “Way Back,” is off Scott’s 2016 album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.

Kaitlyn: The Major Lazer video that Travis Scott beat out also featured Travis Scott, so it was a pretty fierce contest. “Way Back” won because, on top of serving as a visual companion to Scott’s excellent album (which features tunes you likely recognize no matter who you are, such as “goosebumps” and “pick up the phone”), it also functions as a compelling short documentary about the life of James Harden. The best thing about music videos is that they are the most versatile and important art form, and I love them. Happy Friday!

a dozen pairs of adidas track pants

Who is Travis Scott, and who is he with?

Lizzie: Travis Scott is a rapper who has released two studio albums and a handful of mixtapes. He’s from Houston, and this video’s special guest star, NBA player James Harden, is a point guard for the Houston Rockets.

Kaitlyn: Travis Scott and James Harden are also hanging out with dozens of children, some of them doing cheerleading routines, others of them watching old television sets in a warehouse. It sounds a bit sinister on paper, but if you watch the video you’ll see it’s nice. Scott reminds the children “don’t believe what’s on your TV,” and “don’t you sit close to the TV,” which is good advice, and “look boy, seeing is believing,” which is vague yet inspiring, and a reference to either the Bible or The Polar Express. Harden stands upside down on the ceiling, and everyone believes it because they can see it.

What’s special about “Way Back” by Travis Scott:

Lizzie: “Way Back” opens with Jimmy Harden watching six television screens at once, all airing coverage of a fan-favorite basketball player, Jimbo himself. He goes to the gym and considers life as a professional athlete, while a bunch of ghost cheerleaders cheer him on.

Kaitlyn: You’ll notice that one of the televisions is playing famous footage of California rapper Lil B, who is best known for following nearly every living person on Twitter, releasing an absurd number of mixtapes, believing in himself, and not getting enough credit for the Lil Yachty phenomenon. The footage in question is from an ESPN appearance from summer 2015, for which Lil B dressed up in a women’s sun hat and earrings to discuss the curse he had placed on James Harden (a punishment for stealing one of Lil B’s dance moves). Lil B has also placed the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant under a curse.

To be clear — and I don’t mean to split hairs and slow you down on your way to watching this incredible music video — it’s actually Lil B’s alter-ego TheBasedGod who inflicts curses. According to Lil B, TheBasedGod is a higher power that only he has access to.

Lizzie: The “Way Back” video functions as a bit of a redemption tour for Harden, who, in Game 6 of a semi-finals series against the Spurs last month, played one of the worst games of his career. He scored only 10 points the entire game, prompting a reporter to ask him, at the post-game press conference, if he was injured. (*sad trombone noise*) The whole thing was so embarrassing Lil B said he was willing to consider lifting his curse.

Jim’s fine y’all! He’s just hanging upside down in a gym while lip-syncing Travis Scott lyrics. He’s fine!

How long everyone should watch “Way Back” by Travis Scott:

Lizzie: You should watch this video for the amount of time it takes you to forget that Spurs player Manu Ginobili did this to Harden:

Kaitlyn: This video is long. I watched it all the way through out of a sense of responsibility to readers whose favorite website is, but I will say that the only part I can imagine returning to in the future is 4:41 to 7:00. This is when Travis Scott rides around the city in the backseat of a convertible, wearing a pair of Adidas slide sandals with flames on the sides. I’ll never get tired of summer! Summer forever!