Jeremih, Aminé bring down house at A&O Ball


Jeffrey Wang/Daily Senior Staffer

Jeremih performs at A&O Ball, which was co-hosted by FMO. The hip-hop artist headlined and rapper Aminé opened the annual concert, held at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre.

Alan Perez, Reporter

Hip-hop artist Jeremih and rapper Aminé paid homage to Chicago rappers and their music during A&O Ball on Friday.

More than a thousand students gathered at the Riviera Theatre and crowded the dance floor for the evening’s performances, which featured an array of collaborations with local artists and remixes of their music. At one point during his opening set, Aminé brought Chicago rapper Joey Purp to the stage for a performance of Purp’s song “Girls @.” Jeremih, who is from Chicago, paid tribute to some of his favorite local musicians, including Chance the Rapper, Kanye West and R. Kelly.

“Shoutout to everyone in the city,” Jeremih said to the crowd. “I’m just proud to be among them.”

The concert was co-hosted by A&O Productions and For Members Only. Communication junior Justine Yücesan, A&O’s marketing and media co-chair, said she wanted students to have the opportunity to attend a concert in Chicago, which isn’t always available to them.

Part of the reason Aminé and Jeremih were selected to perform was because they fulfilled the mission A&O and FMO envisioned, Yücesan said. The two groups want to make entertainment more inclusive for students of all races, she said.

“We definitely thought bringing Jeremih and Aminé — an old, tried and true voice of music and someone really new — fit the mission of both of our groups,” Yücesan said.

Aminé, the concert’s opener, took the stage at around 8 p.m. as students were still arriving to the venue. He later revealed a purple Northwestern basketball jersey under his sweatshirt. The jersey featured the number 18 and Aminé’s name on the back. He performed all of his singles, as well as music from other artists’ songs he was featured on.

For Aminé’s last song, students sang along to his hit single “Caroline,” which peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 this year. Aminé ended the song pointing his microphone to the audience, allowing students to sing the final lyrics.

Following the concert, many students were upset about a video showing a majority non-black audience singing the N-word along with the lyrics to “Caroline” during Aminé’s set. Weinberg senior Cheron Mims, FMO coordinator, said this made the environment uncomfortable for some students.

“I know that’s the reason why some black students don’t go to Ball,” she said. “When people use the N-word, it kinda just changes the mood, and it changes the solidarity that the community has.”

A&O co-chair Will Corvin, a Weinberg senior, said the group “can’t really control the actions” of audience members.

“We don’t … condone those actions,” Corvin said.

Before Jeremih took the stage, his DJ teased the crowd with samples of his hit song “Down on Me.” Flashing purple lights followed, and students cheered as Jeremih appeared on stage for his set. A live drummer, keyboardist and two dancers joined him for the performance.

Although Jeremih’s set included some of his new songs, he made sure to perform his older hits.

Before his performance of “Birthday Sex,” Jeremih asked the audience if it was anyone’s birthday. Medill freshman Talley Morton said her friends thought it would be funny if she was chosen to go on stage. After friends cleared a pathway for her, security guards lifted Morton onto the stage where Jeremih handed her a rose and serenaded her.

On stage, Jeremih asked for Morton’s name, wished her a happy birthday and later kissed her. Jeremih tried to grind on her, but Morton said she “was really not about that.”

Morton said she was aware of the age difference between her and Jeremih, but was still shocked to hear some people imply sexual assault had occurred. Morton said she didn’t feel like she was sexually assaulted, though she did understand the implications of what happened.

“I didn’t feel uncomfortable,” Morton said.

Morton said there were other, more important things that should have been discussed more, such as concert attendees’ use of the N-word.

A&O representatives were very responsive to the situation, Morton said. After the song, Morton and Jeremih went backstage to two separate areas, Morton said. Corvin said an A&O member escorted Morton off the stage and made sure “to check how she was doing and that she knew she could contact us.”

“We can’t necessarily predict the actions of artists, and we don’t condone their actions either,” Corvin said.

To close the set, Jeremih invited more female students to the stage and offered them roses. The concert ended with an explosion of confetti over the audience.

Mims said she was glad to see many students enjoy themselves. FMO’s goal was for concert attendees to have a great time and take a break from thinking about midterms, she said.

“I’m really glad people came out and had a great time,” Mims said. “And hopefully next year they keep the trend going.”

This story was updated to clarify Will Corvin’s statement on A&O’s reaction to students using the N-word during Ball.

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