Rae Sremmurd to headline spring concert, UM students give their thoughts

It’s official: concerts are returning to the University of Miami for the first time since fall 2019.

On Feb. 28, Hurricane Productions, an organization of students that facilitates campus entertainment events such as Patio Jams and the CaneStage theater company, dropped a simple message on their Instagram account, reading as follows.

“BIG NEWS! In-person concerts are back. Rae Sremmurd will be performing in the Watsco Center at 8 p.m.on Friday, April 1st. Tickets are available every Tues-Thurs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Breezeway starting March 1st.”

A hip-hop and rap brother duo consisting of Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee, Rae Sremmurd’s biggest hits include the Nicki Minaj and Young Thug collaboration “Throw Sum Mo,” “Black Beatles” with Gucci Mane and “No Flex Zone.” The duo grew to further prominence through their opening performances for massive acts such as Minaj, The Weeknd and Childish Gambino, as well as Lee’s solo work.

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The concert is the first in-person event of its kind since the headlining performances of London-born rapper 21 Savage and hit Russian-German producer Zedd, in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

The announcement of Rae Sremmurd as the headlining act sparked different reactions from students across campus, with many citing the Mississippi-based rap duo as a surprising choice.

Energetic about the announcement, Sahil Justin Kumar Karra, a senior political science major, dished about his excitement for the resuming of cherished in-person events students missed out on because of the pandemic.

“I’ve heard a couple of their songs like ‘Swang’ and ‘Black Beatles,’” Kumar Karra said. “A lot of my friends are excited for them. I will be attending since it is the first concert post-COVID-19. I’m really glad we’ve got the chance to all come together again and have some fun.”

Jesse Kane, a sophomore English major, echoed this excitement and confirmed that he will attend.

“A free rap concert is almost unheard of in Miami,” Kane said. “They have some good hits and they are a group I can see a good amount of students enjoying.”

Rapper 21 Savage performs at the Hurricane Productions Homecoming Concert in The Watsco Center on Nov. 7, 2019.
Rapper 21 Savage performs at the Hurricane Productions Homecoming Concert in The Watsco Center on Nov. 7, 2019. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

On the flip side, Libby White, a senior majoring in ecosystem science and policy, admitted that she won’t go to the concert.

“I’m not really a fan,” White said. “I only know a top song or two. I feel like it’s an obscure choice.”

White reminisced of past homecoming concerts, citing Zedd as a more universally appealing artist choice.

“I feel like in the future it would be fun to have someone like Zedd again because he’s more popular to the general student body,” White said.

Senior BFA musical theater major Luciana Ragolia, agreed with White’s opinion.

“I’m not a fan of Rae Sremmurd and I’m not satisfied by the choice,” Ragolia said, explaining her reasoning for not attending the event.

Ragolia asked Hurricane Productions organizers to bring more diversity into their artist selections, pointing out that there hasn’t been a female artist in years.

“I’d like to see someone more popular and I would also like to see some female artist representation,” Ragolia said. “The past few concerts since I’ve gone to this school have been all male.”

Alex Walch, a junior Spanish and international studies student, did not give the same enthusiasm as Kane but said he could see himself attending.

“I would probably attend if I am free during that time since it would be cool to say I saw them live and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Walch said. “It’s technically free under our 70k cost of tuition, but if I have other things to do I don’t mind just seeing it on people’s feeds and not having to wait in line to get a ticket.”

Walch explained that seeing a wide range of diverse artists more related to the identity of UM would be a great idea for future concerts.

“In the future, I would like to see a lineup with artists even if they are small that represent the diversity of the Miami area more, so more people can connect to the music and feel a sense of pride about being a Hurricane,” Walch said.

Amanda Costello, senior public relations major and Concert Chair of Hurricane Productions, dished about her eagerness for the event. Holding her position as Concert Chair since last fall, Costello referenced the selection process that she and her team use to pick headliners.

“At the end of every year, we take surveys of the student body as we see what genre they’re looking for,” Costello said. “We narrow it down from there.”

Costello also discussed her goal for the event, aiming to pump up the student body and make the event as enjoyable as possible.

“Our hope is that it’s like a big comeback,” Costello said. “We want everyone to be super excited and that seems to be the vibe so far. We’re just looking to bring concerts back because although we did two virtual shows because of COVID-19, this is our first in-person concert back. The goal is just to have people really excited and bring as many people out as possible.”