May 25, 2019 | 69° F

RUPA adds third act to Rutgersfest

For University students questioning why this year's Rutgersfest had only two performers when the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA) announced the line up last month, don't worry — there is a third.

RUPA added YelaWolf, a rapper from Alabama signed under Eminem's Shady Records label, two weeks ago, said Jessica Bruno, RUPA vice president of concerts and coffeehouses. Before the addition, only rapper Pitbull and electronic artist 3OH!3 were slated to perform.

The decision to add a third act was never out of the question completely, said Bruno, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. The committee discovered YelaWolf and wanted to allocate more money to the concert to have him perform.

"We were actually looking through the budget and at the fact that Rutgersfest needed a little more umph," she said.

The committee also felt YelaWolf would appeal to both a different group of hip-hop lovers as well as the general University audience, Bruno said.

"I think he added to the lineup we already had," said Elise Powers, incoming RUPA vice president of concerts and coffeehouses.

While some students may not know who YelaWolf is, part of RUPA's goal with Rutgersfest is to showcase emerging artists, Bruno said.

Bruno said when Kanye West performed at the University years ago, he was not as famous as he is today. She and the rest of the RUPA committee believe YelaWolf is going to rise in fame as well.

YelaWolf's mixtape, "Trunk Muzik 0-60," was his first project with a major label and was released last November under Ghet-O-Vision Entertainment and Interscope Records. "Radioactive," his first full-length studio album, is scheduled to be released this summer.

The rapper also recently graced the cover of XXL magazine and sold out a concert this March at New York City's Highland Ballroom.

Aside from the emerging-artist quality, RUPA considered other factors when selecting and booking Rutgersfest artists — a difficult process that takes three to four months, Bruno said.

"It's a huge undertaking," said Matthew Johnson, RUPA vice president of public relations and marketing.

The committee conducts extensive research when picking an artist, Bruno said. They look at what artists are popular among students and check how well they interact at other college concerts, if they behave appropriately during shows, if they draw a large crowd and if they have a good reputation.

"Reputation's a big deal because we're representing Rutgers University," said Johnson, a Rutgers Business School senior.

Difficulties arise also because many artists do not want to play at colleges, some are not available on the day of Rutgersfest or they are too expensive to book, Johnson said, adding that the pricing for the artists RUPA booked this year is confidential.

If RUPA were to book a very famous artist, like Lady Gaga, RUPA would have to charge admission and only have that one performer, Bruno said.

She said this would not be ideal at a place like the University, where the students have a variety of musical tastes.

The decision to have a mostly hip-hop lineup this year, with no rock artist, was to appeal to a different group of students than last year, where the headlining act was rock band Brand New, Bruno said.

"For a student that would come in for four years, and go to four different Rutgersfests, they would expect to get four different types of acts," Johnson said.

Bruno said RUPA tries to appeal to a variety of tastes, but there is no way for the committee to please everyone.

Powers said RUPA did try to appeal to the University's rock audience with some of its other shows peppered throughout the year, like with September's Reel Big Fish and February's Circa Survive concert.

"The fact of the matter is not everyone listens to rock. Not everyone listens to hip-hop," Bruno said. "It's a catch-22."

Mary Diduch

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