From the appearance of the cherry blossoms and the end of classes, to the announcement of the performers at Spring Fling, there are several reasons for students to look forward to this season. But that excitement shouldn’t cloud your judgement on the celebrity who will be coming to campus in just a few days.
This weekend, Lil Pump will be co-headlining at GW’s annual Spring Fling alongside rapper Lil Yachty in University Yard. Most students will likely know rapper Lil Pump for his platinum single “Gucci Gang” and his signature pink and gold dreads, but before he comes to campus Saturday, there’s more you should know about the young rapper’s delinquent past.
Like many rappers, Lil Pump’s lyrics promote messages of misogyny and drug use, but it’s his actions that are even more concerning. Although the type of language and hyper-masculinity he uses in his lyrics are common in rap music, Lil Pump is only 17 years old and sets an example for young people around the country and students on campus. Even if the rapper’s lyrics do not concern you, his actions call for attention. Less than two months ago, Lil Pump was arrested and charged in California for firing his mother’s gun without cause and allegedly lying to police by saying he was protecting himself from an intruder. As a result, Pump was issued a monitoring ankle bracelet.
His image is far from what we strive for in our community and does not reflect positively on GW.
Pump also has a history of violence, like when he beat up a girl in middle school – only four years ago. Through his lyrics, he uses offensive language to brag about the incident and refers to the middle school girl he beat up as a “bitch” and a “hoe,” claiming that his teacher was proud of him for it. And it’s evident that Lil Pump hasn’t matured beyond this violence. Just last year, he got in a fight with fans on his tour that resulted in Pump kicking one member of the crowd in the head. Pump is also notorious for promoting the illegal misuse of prescription drugs like Xanax and Percocet on social media. Additionally, Pump advertises the large amount of weed he smokes – which is prohibited on GW’s campus.
Although it is exciting to have this well-known young SoundCloud rapper take the stage in University Yard, Lil Pump has a history of illegal and violent acts. His image is far from what we strive for in our community and does not reflect positively on GW.
In the announcement made last week, Program Board stated that Lil Pump is “representative of what the GW community will appreciate.” Personally, I don’t appreciate having a 17-year-old boy who shoots guns without reason and kicks his fans in the head as the glorified co-headliner of Spring Fling. To me, that isn’t representative of the GW community.
This isn’t the first time the chosen Spring Fling act was a controversial one. Issues around the selection of rapper Action Bronson in 2016 resulted in Program Board creating a new vetting process for headliners. The new vetting system was enacted last year after pushback against 2016’s Spring Fling original headliner, Action Bronson, led to the removal of the rapper from the event. Bronson’s history of transphobic and misogynistic comments, especially in his song “Consensual Rape,” sparked heated discussions among many students, calling for his removal because he did not represent GW’s values of inclusion and diversity.
To prevent this from happening again, Program Board started a more intense vetting process to find artists who wouldn’t offend students or make them uncomfortable. When asked about the process this week, Reed Elman Waxham, the executive vice chair of Program Board, said in an email that the “vetting process has four layers.” There is an intial vetting of typically 50 to 100 names and from there, Program Board goes into a “deep-dive” into five to 10 artists that they are considering. Next, he said the executive board members conduct the vetting process again for the handful of performers and finally, the Center for Student Engagement approves the performers.
The new process requires scrutiny on artists’ lyrics, interviews and social media. When asked about the decision to select Lil Pump, Waxham said Program Board is aware of the rapper’s history, but the organization came to a consensus that “his actions would not jeopardize Spring Fling as a safe space for all students.”
I won’t be attending Spring Fling because I don’t want to be in the audience, fully knowing that Lil Pump has a history of violence.
Part of Program Board’s goal in their vetting process is to make sure they don’t find anything “concerning” about the artists they hire. But this year’s selection of Lil Pump is an awful choice as far as precautions around students’ comfort and safety go because of his irresponsible, violent and misogynistic image. Similar to Action Bronson, Lil Pump is an inappropriate choice for a headliner, and any vetting process that says otherwise needs to be adjusted in order to properly account for the public image of the artist and the consequences of having them on campus.
I won’t be attending Spring Fling because I don’t want to be in the audience, fully knowing that Lil Pump has a history of violence. In order to improve the selection process for the next concert, Program Board must come up with more concrete guidelines on considering artists with a history of substance abuse, domestic assault and criminal charges. The safety of students must be integral to Program Board’s decision in future concert lineups.
Rachel Walsh is a freshman and a Hatchet opinions writer.
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