Big Sean, another hip-hop Fall Fest, to cost nearly half of SA Entertainment budget

Breaking down the cost and student reaction of this year’s Fall Fest

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For $163,700 of student money, Big Sean, Jeremih, Isaiah Rashad and Tink will perform outside UB Stadium for Fall Fest on Sept. 12.

The Student Association spent nearly half of its 2015-16 entertainment budget on the mix of hip-hop and R&B talent for Fall Fest this year. One hundred and sixty-three thousand dollars was spent of SA’s allotted $390,000 for entertainment.

Fall Fest is one of SA’s bi-annual concerts – the other, a spring concert called Spring Fest. The concerts, like SA, are funded by undergraduate students through the mandatory student activity fee of $104.75 a semester.

The genre of Fall Fest, rap-themed for the fourth year in a row, is a widely- debated topic among the student body. SA polls students to try and find out the most popular genre. But the polls, posted on UB Linked, get limited student responses.

In 2014, less than six percent of the student body voted in the Spring Fest poll. This year, SA President Minahil Khan said the student participation in the polls were even less than that.

In response to the low numbers, SA decided to look at the attendance from past years to see what the most popular genre was. Looking back at old attendance, the rap concerts were consistently the most popular, Khan said.

Last year, 7,024 students and 1,300 non-students attended the Fall Fest with Schoolboy Q and T.I. Only 3,850 students and 988 non-students attended the rock-themed Spring Fest last semester, and only 3,387 students and 362 non-students went to the EDM-themed Electric Tundra.

But the polls don’t decide the genre – the SA executive board has the final say for both the genre and the lineup.

Overall, it seems the lineup has been well met by the UB community.

SA revealed the lineup on social media on Aug. 20 and students were vocal with their opinions on Twitter and Facebook. Students were mixed about the announcements of Jeremih and Tink, questioning the relevance and identity of the artists, respectively. But there seemed to be mostly praise for headliner Big Sean.

Robert Genao, a senior health and human resources major, said this was the best Fall Fest lineup he has seen in his four years here. And he’s not alone – fellow senior Garrett Perard, an engineering physics major, said Big Sean’s newest album and Jeremih’s voice are reasons enough to go to the concert.

Kirsten McCarthy, a freshman psychology major, said that she is excited for the lineup but admitted she has no idea who Tink is. She said she is most excited for Big Sean, the only artist she really knows well.

SA Entertainment Director Terese Regan said the genre for Fall Fest was chosen all the way back in June, when the initial planning for the concert was being made. There is so much work that goes into signing one artist, Regan said, the decision has to be finalized by mid-summer.

“This year, it was easiest to just continue the trend of rap in the fall and rock and EDM in the spring,” Regan said. “We already have a system in place that works.”

By June, Regan said, the e-board had finalized a list of artists who they were looking at bringing to UB.

“The biggest challenge is finding a date that works for everyone,” Khan said. “We have to coordinate the date with the athletic department, and this year only two dates were available to us: Sept. 12 or Sept. 19.”

SA Talent Coordinator Natalia Alexandridi said the decision to book Big Sean, Jeremih, Isaiah Rashad and Tink came after a long process of narrowing down the list of artists who they wanted to perform.

Juicy J, Chance the Rapper, Meek Mill, Fetty Wap and Jhene Aiko were all on the final list of artists being considered, Alexandridi said.

Big Sean, born Sean Anderson, is a high-profile rap artist whose career has been built over four mixtapes and three studio albums, most recently Dark Sky Paradise. Undoubtedly an A-list rapper, Big Sean has collaborated with every famous rapper out there, including Kanye West, Jay-Z and Drake. He has been signed to GOOD Music, Def Jam and Roc Nation.

This isn’t his first time coming to UB either – he performed at Spring Fest in 2010 before his mainstream success.

Jeremih is a Chicago-born R&B artist perhaps best known for his single “Birthday Sex,” released from his self-entitled album in 2009, which earned him his deal with Def Jam Records.

Isaiah Rashad is a hip-hop artist from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is signed to Top Dawg Entertainment – the label that represents last year’s Fall Fest headliner, Schoolboy Q.

Tink, born Trinity Home, is a promising, up-and-coming artist from Chicago. She is just 20 years old and is personally mentored by Timbaland, who signed her to his label Mosley Music Group in October 2014. Her debut album, Think Tink, is due out in September.

Fall Fest will be held on Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. All undergraduate students get into the concert for free with a student ID.

Brian Windschitl is the senior arts editor and can be reached at brian.windschitl@ubspectrum.com