On April 8, the University announced Meek Mill as the headliner for this year’s Spring Fair concert, which will take place on April 30 in the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center. The 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 the aid of chosen representatives from the Graduate Representative Organization, Peabody Institute, Student Government Association (SGA) and the Hopkins Students Organization for Programming (HOP) along with other campus sponsors. This will mark the second year that University administrators are in charge of the event.
The Philadelphia-based rapper has released five studio albums that have become commercial successes, and founded his record label Dream Chasers Records in 2011. After facing legal issues and serving five months in a state correctional facility, Mill began to advocate for criminal justice, founding REFORM Alliance with Jay-Z.
Mill has also been accused of being abusive toward several women by his former girlfriend, rapper Nicki Minaj, which Mill has denied.
Tamara Jade, a singer from Bowie, Md. will be the opening act for the concert. She has sung backup for the Zac Brown Band and was featured on The Voice as a part of Team Legend in 2020.
LEED sent out a survey in January prompting students to vote for the music genre of this year’s Spring Fair Concert headliner.
In an email to The News-Letter, junior Snigdha Panda, co-chair 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 list and began reaching out to artists to see who would be available and best fit the vibes of Spring Fair,” Panda wrote. “Meek Mill was a name that was reiterated many times by the representatives and was a top contender on the list.”
Student reactions to the announcement were mixed. In an email to The News-Letter, freshman Reygenald Ines shared his excitement concerning the headliner announcement.
“I’m pretty stoked considering that this is an artist I actually know,” he wrote.
Freshman Robbie Kuang was unfamiliar with Mill before they learned the artist would be headlining Spring Fair.
“I went and searched up Meek Mill on Spotify to figure out who he was,” they said in an interview with The News-Letter.
Kuang feels greater student involvement in artist selection could have led to more satisfaction from students.
“They should’ve 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 wrong even if rap was the most popular genre.”
Panda discussed how a diverse panel of students from various student organizations and musical preferences provided input on the concert’s lineup. She noted that the selection process weighed student desires as well as budget constraints and scheduling limitations.
Sophomore Faith Obilo shared her surprise at the limited number of tickets available for the concert, noting how some of her friends were unable to get tickets the day after registration opened.
Panda explained that the limit for ticket sales is due to space restrictions in the Recreation Center.
“The Rec is only able to hold so many people while keeping safety in mind, so that’s why there’s only a certain number of tickets that were available,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, we sold out of tickets within a few hours, which is why there weren’t any available the date after registration.”
Kuang questioned why the Recreation Center was selected as the venue, noting that previous concerts on campus have taken place outdoors.
“I feel like there are better spots, especially because of COVID-19 and the nice weather,“ they said. “[Hopkins] could've done the same thing as Zella Day and had it outside to accommodate more students.”
Panda also commented on claims that the supporting artists aren’t as well-known as students had hoped and explained the choices by reasoning that the fame of an artist does not necessarily determine their talent. She added that the diverse lineup was chosen to make sure that all students on campus feel included and enjoy the event.
“We’re supporting local talent by including artists from the Baltimore community,” she wrote. “Spring Fair is meant to encompass the entire community of Baltimore and Johns Hopkins, and I think the other artists will bring some variety and representation to our concert. I think students should be open to some new musical variety! They may discover an artist they like.”
Obilo echoed Panda’s sentiments and is looking forward to exploring new music and supporting artists.
“I’m glad that Hopkins is highlighting Black artists and, even though I’m not a huge listener of rap, I’m still super excited to hear [Meek Mill’s] music and hang with my friends,” she wrote. “I’m really excited to see the opening act, Tamara Jade. She’s a Maryland native and I watched her journey on the Voice so seeing her live will be an amazing experience.”