In a recent announcement, ACE Concerts, in partnership with the Williams College administration and College Council, has revealed that the annual spring concert will, in 2015, be replaced with a panel and series of seminars featuring college faculty, students, and guest speakers’ thoughts on the meaning of diversity at Williams. Titled “Waka Flocka Came: Williams Reflects on Music and Controversy,” the event will begin with a series of spoken word performances by students reacting to last year’s spring performance by the popular Atlanta rapper.
The leader of this initiative, Cynthia Lambert ’16, explained the reasoning behind the drastic change of plans: “Every year Williams students use the spring concert as an excuse to get drunk, listen to music, dance, and generally do things that they find enjoyable. But is anybody really thinking about the meaning of the music being played up on the stage? We wanted to get students and faculty thinking about really important topics, like whether the misogyny in Waka Flocka’s lyrics serves an artistic purpose or is simply offensive. We like to think we’re above it all at Williams, but bigotry is real here. And the way to fix that is to replace the spring concert with Waka Flocka Came.”
Student reaction to the announcement has been mixed. The words of Alexandra Berman ’16 spoke for many others: “They have to be kidding.” But others are welcoming the change of pace, and say they’re still looking forward to it. “This is a really good opportunity to learn more, on a day when people might otherwise forget that learning is what we came to college for,” says Jack Mathewson ’17. “Also, I hate rap,” he continued. Miles Jarrey, a freshman in Williams Hall, says he and his friends are “really excited” and “already planning our pre-game for the lecture on how themes on Waka’s album Flockaveli can help us understand the role of social justice in the Williams community. Beer!”
Lambert says she knows it’s up to the organizers to determine the success or failure of Waka Flocka Came. “Ideally, this is something we’d do every year,” she explained. “But of course, this is our chance to prove that it’s something worth continuing. Planning is still in the early stages, but I don’t think we’re going to disappoint. Why should students give up their concert for this? Just wait and see how much your perspective on things changes. Also, we’re going to have kegs.”