Courtesy of Frank Morales

Just three days before Yale’s annual Spring Fling concert, the Yale College Council Events Committee announced that Lil Uzi Vert will no longer be performing. Instead, rapper Playboi Carti will be this Saturday’s headlining act.

In a statement to the student body, the YCC revealed that due to “circumstances beyond [their] control” Lil Uzi Vert cancelled his scheduled performance at Yale, along with many of his other shows. The rest of the event’s lineup remains the same, with Australian EDM DJ Anna Lunoe and student acts joining Playboi Carti.

The committee was able to originally secure Lil Uzi Vert, one of the biggest names Spring Fling would have ever seen, by not splitting their budget among various artists like they have done in the past. After the committee faced criticism for last year’s four act lineup, YCC Events Director Caleigh Propes ’20 said in February that by bringing in a big name like Lil Uzi Vert, she hoped that the Events Committee would “give the students what they want.”

In a statement to the News, the committee noted that this type of cancellation has happened before: In 2014, Chance the Rapper canceled his scheduled Spring Fling appearance just four days before the performance. The committee added that that experience has helped inform their “response and preparation” now.

“Spring Fling is a music concert by the student body, for the student body,” the committee said in their statement to the News. “This type of cancellation is always possible for any performer, and it is not the first time that an artist has canceled for Spring Fling.”

In February, Propes said that Lil Uzi Vert was the most popular artist on the student survey sent out at the beginning of the year, as well as the second most popular last year. According to the campuswide statement, the committee has been in “close contact” with Lil Uzi Vert’s management, but the artist was forced to cancel due to “internal issues.”

The committee told the News that after hearing from Lil Uzi Vert, they wanted to make this announcement “as soon as possible.” But they had to wait for confirmation from Playboi Carti in order to release the information to the student body.

“We found out from Lil Uzi Vert’s management within the past few days that he would not be coming to Yale, and we immediately went into action to find a new act,” the committee told the News.

At the beginning of 2019, Lil Uzi Vert announced that he planned on retiring due to his frustrations with his label and the lengthy process it required to release music. Still, earlier this month the artist released two new songs under the same label — “Sanguine Paradise” and “That’s a Rack.” Two days ago, Lil Uzi Vert released a new music video for the latter song.

In comparison to Lil Uzi Vert’s 13 million monthly listeners on Spotify, Playboi Carti has 6 million. Born Jordan Terrell Carter in Atlanta Playboi Carter started gaining attention after he was featured on the A$AP Mob single “Telephone Calls.” He released his eponymous debut mixtape in April 2017, which reached No. 12 on the Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart. From his mixtape, his two singles “Magnolia” —  which climbed to No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart —  and “Woke Up Like This” —  which reached No. 76 and features Lil Uzi Vert —  became highly successful. After the mixtape’s release, he joined Gucci Mane and Dreezy on tour. Most recently, Playboi Carti released his debut full-length album “Die Lit’ in May 2018. 

“Playboi Carti is an incredible artist in his own right. “Die Lit” debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 when it came out last year, and he is an incredible, electrifying rapper and performer,” the committee told the News. “We also chose him because hip-hop remains the most popular music genre for Spring Fling among the student body.”

In an email addressed to Propes and the two Spring Fling chairs Jay Son ’20 and Kazemi Adachi ’20 that YCC President Saloni Rao ’20 sent to the News, Rao described this turn of events as “shocking and extremely disappointing news.” She added that she “thinks this merits a further conversation about the management of the Spring Fling Committee,” especially regarding the transparency of the committee as a whole.

Rao also said that she believes the committee “owes the student body” a more detailed explanation of why this incident occurred, especially since she has “already [received] complaints” from students whose friends and family had planned on travelling to Yale to specifically see Lil Uzi Vert this weekend.

But in an email sent back to Rao that Propes shared with the News, Propes said that although she is “sorry about those students,” she has “full confidence” that this announcement was handled as “professionally as possible.” She noted that just this week, Lil Uzi Vert fired his tour manager and that the committee has been working with the “contracts office at Yale,” Assistant Dean and Director of Student Affairs Hannah Peck and their promoter to handle the situation.

“There is no way to ensure that this does not happen again — accidents happen! This is a part of life, and musicians cancel on concerts every week,” Propes wrote in the email to Rao. “People get sick, have emergencies, break their arms (Chance the Rapper at Yale a few years ago), and generally have things happen to them.”

In the future, Rao said that she thinks the committee should “work towards implementing safeguards” to ensure that this is not a recurring problem, such as booking multiple smaller artists as they had in the past. She noted that Lil Uzi Vert had a “record of canceling shows” and that this “seems like an extremely large oversight on behalf of the Spring Fling Committee” that they had not taken this into consideration before booking the artist.

Still, Propes emphasized that “there are no safeguards to be implemented,” because of inherent problems with the music industry that would “take a simple Google search to realize.” She added that after last year’s Spring Fling, students were “overwhelmingly” not in favor of the four acts and “requested a large headliner” in feedback. Propes also said that “no student made a comment in the comments section [of the survey] about his appearance being problematic.”

But the controversy did not stop there. Rao also criticized what she called the YCC Events Committee’s  “irresponsible spending” — pointing to over $2,700 of YCC internal funds that the committee spent on social events and other “goods … exclusive to the Spring Fling Committee.”

But Propes said that most of the funds Rao cited were spent on “an architectural installation” for Spring Fling and that the social event was planned since “most of [their] members felt uncomfortable at YCC Crush (which [she’s] sure cost a couple of thousand dollars).” She added that although she is “happy to work with all involved parties” to improve the committee, she has been met with “only meeting cancellations and refusals of open conversations.” Propes said that she is “happy to explain every expense,” and that none of the expenses Rao mentioned came from student funds.

After the YCC’s announcement, other Yalies had mixed feelings.

Shah Khan ’19 said that many people already doubted that Lil Uzi Vert would come, adding that a friend had told him that the artist had cancelled everything in the last six months so he “kind of already expected it.”

“It’s the same genre, the same energy. It should be fine,” Khan said.

Annie Xu ’22 said that she thinks Playboi Carti will be “lit.”

But for Anna Wilkinson ’22, the news was a disappointment.

“When I first heard the news, I didn’t mind that much,” Wilkinson said. “But now that I learned that he is being replaced by Playboi Carti, that’s a downgrade.”

Playboi Carti will be performing at Yale on Saturday, April 24 at 8:30 p.m.

Alayna Lee | alayna.lee@yale.edu