On April 8, the University announced that Meek Mill would headline this year’s Spring Fair concert, to be held April 30 at the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center. Event capacity is 1,800 and tickets are currently sold out.
The 2022 Spring Fair is being planned by the Office of Leadership Engagement and Experiential Development (LEED) with assistance from select representatives from the Graduate Representative Organization, Peabody Institute, Student Government Association (SGA) and the Hopkins Student Organization for Programming (HOP) along with other campus sponsors. This will be the second year that the University administrators are in charge of the event.
The Philadelphia-based rapper has released five studio albums that became commercial successes and founded his label Dream Chasers Records in 2011. After facing legal issues and spending five months in a state correctional facility, Mill has began advocating for criminal justice, founding Alliance REFORM with Jay-Z.
Mill has also been accused of abusing multiple women by his former girlfriend, rapper Nicki Minaj, which Mill has denied.
Tamara Jade, a singer from Bowie, Md. will be the concert‘s opening act. She sang for the Zac Brown Band and was featured on The voice as part of Team Legend in 2020.
LEED sent out a survey in January inviting students to vote for the musical genre of the headliner for this year’s Spring Fair Concert.
In an email to The News-Letterjunior Snigdha Panda, co-chairman of the traditions committee for the HOP, revealed that the genre with the most votes was rap.
“Based on this, we were able to narrow down our roster and began reaching out to artists to see who would be available and best fit the Spring Fair vibe,” Panda wrote. “Meek Mill was a name that was repeatedly reiterated by reps and was one of the top contenders on the slate.”
Student reactions to the announcement were mixed. In an email to The News-LetterFreshman Reygenald Ines shared his excitement over the headliner announcement.
“I’m pretty happy considering this is an artist I actually know,” he wrote.
Freshman Robbie Kuang didn’t know Mill until he learned the artist would be headlining Spring Fair.
“I went to find Meek Mill on Spotify to find out who he was,” they said in an interview with The News-Letter.
Kuang believes that greater student involvement in the selection of artists could have led to greater student satisfaction.
“They should have listened to the students more. Even though they sent out a survey, I feel like a lot of people are upset,” they said. “Maybe the artist was just plain wrong even though rap was the most popular genre.”
Panda explained how a diverse panel of students from various student organizations and musical preferences contributed to the concert’s lineup. She noted that the selection process weighed student desires as well as budget constraints and schedule limitations.
Sophomore Faith Obilo shared her surprise at the limited number of tickets available for the concert, noting that some of her friends were unable to get tickets the day after registration opened.
Panda explained that the ticket sales limit is due to space restrictions in the leisure center.
“The Rec can only accommodate a certain number of people while keeping safety in mind, which is why there are only a certain number of tickets available,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, we sold out tickets within hours, which is why there were none the day after registration.”
Kuang asked why the recreation center was chosen as the venue, noting that previous concerts on campus had been held outdoors.
“I feel like there are better places, especially because of COVID-19 and the good weather,” they said. “[Hopkins] could have done the same as Zella Day and had it outside to accommodate more students.”
Panda also commented on claims that supporting artists aren’t as well-known as students had hoped, and explained the choices by believing that an artist’s fame doesn’t necessarily determine their talent. She added that the diverse lineup was chosen to ensure that all students on campus feel included and benefit from the event.
“We support local talent by including artists from the Baltimore community,” she wrote. “Spring Fair is meant to encompass the entire Baltimore and Johns Hopkins community, and I think the other artists will bring some variety and representation to our concert. I think students should be open to new musical variety! They can experience an artist they like.
Obilo echoed Panda’s sentiments and is looking forward to exploring new music and supporting artists.
“I’m glad Hopkins is spotlighting black artists, and while I’m not a big rap listener, I’m always super excited to hear [Meek Mill’s] music and hanging out with my friends,” she wrote. “I’m really excited to see opening act Tamara Jade. She’s originally from Maryland and I’ve watched her journey on The Voice, so seeing her live will be an amazing experience.