Nearly a dozen local Black-owned businesses and vendors congregated at Frost Grove on Saturday to set up tents selling products, ranging from custom-made artwork and merchandise, adorned with graffitied images of hip-hop and rap artists, to an assortment of haircare products. One vendor even set up a photo booth for guests to pose with props and take photos. The main attraction of the event, however, was on the stage.
Blackfest — the Bay Area’s largest free hip-hop concert — is annually hosted by the Black Family Gathering Committee and Stanford Live at Frost Amphitheater for both students and the general public to celebrate Black culture, music and community. This year’s Blackfest marked the end of a two-year hiatus of live music as Blackfest shifted to virtual concerts starting in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
YG, a California native from Compton, headlined the event with opening support from student performer DJ Yinka (Yinka Braimah ’22), DJ SUGARTRAP and DJ Vision, as well as California rappers D3szn and Day Sulan — the latter two of which are signed to YG’s personal label, 4Hunnid Records.
The crowd’s enthusiasm peaked when YG stepped out on stage, performing “BPT” from his 2014 album “My Krazy Life.” As DJ Vision introduced YG to the audience, the crowd roared, the bass blared and the smoke-machines billowed plumes.
Chants of “Westside” echoed throughout the venue as YG sang the hook of the song.
Throughout the night, YG sang a number of his most popular songs, including “Big Bank,” “F*ck Donald Trump,” “Don’t Tell ‘em” and “That’s My N****.”
Before playing the last of the aforementioned tracks, YG prompted everyone in the audience to sing the lyrics with him — despite the majority of the lyrics consisting of a racial slur. Some students of color took to Fizz after the concert to share concerns regarding white and non-Black students singing along to all the words in the song.
The crowd was enthralled by headliner YG, but also by his supporting act DJ Vision. Rather than being an idle DJ at the back of the set, DJ Vision took front and center stage, enthusiastically entertaining the crowd with his eccentric antics and dance moves on top of his DJ table and alongside YG.
YG’s performance this past weekend energized campus and set the stage for this upcoming weekend’s Frost Festival featuring Aminé, Victoria Monét and Tkay Maidza.
Queues for YG began to form at the entrance of Frost as early as 2:00 p.m., stretching all the way to Bing Concert Hall, despite gates not opening until later that day at 3:30 p.m. And even after guests had entered the venue, they were forced to wait an excruciating amount of time to see YG, whose performance didn’t take place until 6:40 p.m.
Before YG’s entrance, D3szn and Day Sulan both performed on stage with entertaining sets, winning over the crowd despite much of the audience not knowing the lyrics to their songs. As a result of their smaller following and listening base, however, the audience was not as engaged as they could have been.
One crowd member around me likened D3szn’s performance to that of Blueface and Day Sulan’s energy as akin to a west-coast Megan Thee Stallion. And with D3szn’s sagged-pants and shirtless performance and Day Sulan’s black bodysuit, laid edges, high-ponytail and lubricious choreography, it was hard to deny the visual similarities.
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and contains subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.