Vince Staples sells out 2019 A&O Ball


(Source: Sherise Fan)

Vince Staples will headline Ball 2019 at Metro Chicago in Wrigleyville on April 19. Kodie Shane, an Atlanta-based rapper and singer who was raised in Chicago, will open.(Source: Sherise Fan)

Stephen Council, Reporter

Every year, A&O Productions sends out a poll asking Northwestern students who they’d like to see perform at A&O Ball, the group’s annual spring concert. This year, more than half of the entries requested Vince Staples, the prolific Long Beach rapper known for quick and thought-provoking bars.

Yasmeen Wood, head of the A&O Concerts Committee, said the production company usually can’t secure the students’ top choice — whether it’s due to availability or expense, locking in a famous artist can be difficult. Wood, a McCormick senior, managed to buck the trend and book Staples for Ball 2019.

“I really am excited about bringing somebody that the majority of campus also wanted to see,” she said. “That’s the special part about this concert.”

Staples will headline Ball 2019 at Metro Chicago in Wrigleyville on April 19. Kodie Shane, an Atlanta-based rapper and singer who was raised in Chicago, will open for Staples. Tickets, which were free, sold out on April 15.

Wood said that two of A&O’s goals for Ball 2019 were to make it accessible and keep it off campus. In order to get the event downtown, the group chose the 1,150-capacity Metro Chicago over previous years’ 2,500-capacity Riviera Theatre. The move, Wood estimated, saved the organization $20,000 and allowed the free ticket policy.

Weinberg sophomore Jihad Esmail said he’s glad the show is in downtown Chicago. He said he enjoyed seeing last year’s headliner, Ty Dolla $ign, at the Riviera, and that being at an off-campus concert with just Northwestern students makes for a refreshing vibe. Esmail said he is excited for the concert, and that Staples’ work isn’t “head-bopping study music.”

“Vince Staples definitely makes good concert music,” he said. “‘Big Fish Theory’ was a great album that I feel like wouldn’t traditionally sound like concert music but I feel like is going to sound really great live.”

“Big Fish Theory,” Staples’ sophomore follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut album “Summertime ’06,” dropped in 2017. “Summertime ’06,” which came out in 2015, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Since then, Staples put out the concise, creative “FM!” in 2018. He now has three albums, four mixtapes, two EPs and a slew of features and singles to his name.

Ikechi Ihemeson, a Bienen senior who performs lyrical soul on campus under the name “Kechi,” said he is also looking forward to the concert. He saw Staples speak at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2017, and noticed he was a funny, interesting guy and different from other rappers.

“In the realm of hip-hop everything can be very homogenous in terms of like concentration of wealth and material things, and I know he’s not really about that,” Ihemeson said.

Ihemeson also said he’ll be going for the opener, Kodie Shane. She was recognized in February as the Billboard Pride Artist of the Month. Her first full-length album, “Young HeartThrob,” came out in 2018. Concertgoers can expect fast beats and clean, rambunctious vocals.

Wood said A&O has had Shane on their radar for a while. She added she’s a big fan of the artist and is even hoping to get on stage.

“She brings somebody up during the song ‘Sad,’ so I’ve been practicing the lyrics to be brought on stage, hopefully,” Wood said, laughing. “And somebody else too. But hopefully me.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Ikechi Ihemeson’s performing name. It’s “Kechi,” not “Kechi.” 

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