In 2017, the lines of politicization have been blurred to the point of nonexistence and understandably so.
When the president of the United States is the ex-host of The Celebrity Apprentice, it makes perfect sense for the Grammys, Oscars and Superbowl, along with its halftime show, to be discussed in the context of the current political climate as well and YG’s headlining performance at San Diego State’s GreenFest was no exception.
YG is no stranger to politics.
“FDT” has been the outcry of Trump protestors ever since its release almost a year ago and he subsequently called his tour in promotion for his 2016 album, “Still Brazy” the “F—k Donald Trump Tour.”
The anticipated GreenFest performance came with rumors that the SDSU-affiliated committee in charge of booking YG presented him with a contract essentially saying, “If you play ‘FDT’ we won’t pay you.”
The ultimatum seemed ridiculous, and still does post-concert, but so do a lot of things about 2017.
Adele won Album of the Year over Beyoncé.
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced that the wrong film won Best Picture.
Donald Trump is president. In 2017, ridiculous does not mean impossible.
But politicization in 2017 is about choices. Will an album exploring black womanhood be chosen for Album of the Year?
Will a film depicting the life of a gay, black man be chosen for Best Picture?
Will sports fans choose to support a Superbowl team fronted by Trump supporters?
SDSU students were forced to face the possibility that YG, the voice of their political outcry, might make a choice against what they stand for.
The rumor was a hot topic among the audience as the concert was underway with opening acts Wet Lettuce and Rob Stone. Despite the uncertainty, the crowd still went wild when YG came out and even more so as he played a string of his greatest hits, “Bicken Back Bein Bool,” “I Just Wanna Party” and “Toot It and Boot It.”
He unexpectedly brought out Kamaiyah for “Why You Always Hatin?” in which she raps the hook, and her track “F—k it Up,” which includes a feature from YG.
The exciting guest appearance could maybe salvage potentially foregoing “FDT” from the set list in terms of adequacy, but questions still loomed on what YG would ultimately choose to do, and if suspicions of the rumor would be confirmed at all.
Besides hits “Twist My Fingaz” and “Why You Always Hatin?,” the absence of “Still Brazy” tracks from the set list was striking. Maybe YG opted for his more widely recognized party anthems due to playing a festival of sorts rather than his own concert, but the audience couldn’t help but wonder if it was political censorship.
Besides providing an anti-Trump slogan, “Still Brazy” is political in its presentation of YG’s world of Bompton. From warnings of the streets on “Don’t Come to LA” to the inner workings of a paranoid mind on “Who Shot Me?,” YG describes the harsh realities of his city against complementing West Coast beats.
While posing the question “why you always hating?” does have more ammunition in context of politics than it does in the context of the song, it’s inclusion in the set list seemed to be due to it recently being hailed a party staple.
The lack of those non-“FDT” politically charged “Still Brazy” tracks seemed to disappointingly point to where the rest of the show was headed.
The night was coming to a close and, as expected, the crowd was getting antsy.
“Violate your contract!” students shouted, as their fears inched closer and closer to reality.
After performing the entirety of the set in front an illuminated Bompton-themed red screen, the backdrop went grey and suddenly it felt as if there was no separation between the crowd and the stage as YG finally addressed the elephant in the room.
“I’mma be real with y’all,” he spoke to the crowd as if they were his peers, “If your school don’t want to pay me for the s—t I’m about to do, I’mma take the L, because there’s some real s—t going on in the United States of America.”
The crowd’s excitement peaked as YG, of course, capped off his GreenFest set with a, now in double the protest, performance of “FDT,” because why wouldn’t he?
Maybe YG took an L by violating a $60,000 contract, but not playing “FDT” would mean an L for the protest movement, an L for the culture and an L for the people, and the man behind the “F—k Donald Trump Tour” would never be caught doing something like that.
What the entire situation proved was that while politics and culture have clashed on a national level, politicization is hitting closer to home, now targeting SDSU’s annual GreenFest.
While this politicizing phenomenon is occurring for good reason, it also doesn’t matter what the reasoning is, this is just the world now.
Sure, you can tweet at “woke” celebrities to “shut up and do your job,” but you could’ve also said that to Donald Trump in 2015 when he decided to run for president with “reality show host” and “inheritor of my parents’ business” on his resume and saved yourself the trouble.
But you didn’t, because in 2015, ridiculous seemed impossible. Now it’s 2017, and YG did his job when America needed it most, and his job is refusing to shut up.