On May 6, Waka Flocka Flame put on an electrifying, immersive performance in the Elting Gym for the first New Paltz Spring Fest since 2019. Not only was his show entertaining, but Waka Flocka eliminated the boundary between crowd and performer entirely for more than half of his set.
Waka Flocka is most widely known for his club-anthem “No Hands,” ft. Roscoe Dash and Wale, which some of you might find familiar from car rides with your parents in 2010 or from being at P&G’s on a Friday night. With his greatest influences being big names such as Lil John, Tupac and Nas, his creative inspiration is virtually limitless.
“I always used to say when making music, you know, like ‘Man, I cannot rap. I just gotta make me some sh*t that can last as long as Montero’s song ‘This is How We Do It,’ or like I wanted to get like ‘Runnin’ Up that Hill,’’ says Waka Flocka as he begins humming the hit song by Kate Bush. “I wanted some sh*t that you could just forever play, so I don’t gotta keep making music, because I know me, man. I’m just, I’m a bored person.”
His energy is one that can be felt from a mile away, describing himself as “vibrant,” which anyone in his general vicinity can pick up on. “I feed on people. So if the energy ain’t right I’m gonna make it my energy.”
The immersive nature of his performance reflects deeply upon the idea that Waka Flocka can make a dead venue alive again. From moshing with attendees to involving members of the Student Association in his performance of “Grove St. Party,” the Elting Gym had an energy similar to that of a Brooklyn venue. “When you get there, you’re supposed to celebrate, meaning that you’re supposed to find your happiness within Pandora’s Box. So, I’m just that kind of person that if I go somewhere and they’re like ‘Yo, this sh*t is dead.’ I’m like ‘Yo, no it’s not,’’ says Waka Flocka.
For being involved in the music scene for over a decade, Waka Flocka Flame has a plethora of well-seasoned advice that he wants to share with college students. “For y’all in college, it’s your first time in life experiencing. So how could you be struggling in anything? Now, if you do it a second time and struggle then now you’re struggling to do it,” says Waka Flocka. “It’s only hard because you did one thing that you started off failing when trying other people didn’t do sh*t. People that do sh*t don’t try, they do.”
“Even if you’re willing to try and fail, maybe you didn’t fail. Maybe this experience of which you have failed got to lead you a bit closer,” Waka Flocka remarks. “Like, we all know the sh*t we want to do, until you find out what you gotta do.”
Differing from other artists of our time, Waka Flocka Flame prefers to perform for colleges. “I perform to college students because, to me, I like performing for the future, vice versa, performing for the now,” he says. “So, when I see a college, it gives more sort of like, ‘Okay, this is the future. Let me show them what the past was.’ Just to get out of the way, so they keep relevancy and keep me knowing how the world works.”
After Saturday’s show, Waka Flocka has proved to be nothing short of a timeless artist, with his relevancy radiating even 10 years after the height of his career, and his manager agrees wholeheartedly. Brick Bronson, CEO of 36BRICKHOUSE and one of Waka Flocka Flame’s managers, says, “By way of definition, he is nothing short of just that. His ability to transcend from a state of hardship and difficulty into a space of art and design is a remarkable experience to say the least.”
“Waka has fashioned his way across all existing barriers that aimed to keep him in a specific framework of what a so-called hip hop artist embodies,” remarks Bronson. “With over two decades of ground work he has managed to remain extremely relevant year after year, regardless of what fashion or trend was brought to surface or made cool by peers and influencers alike.”
“Additionally, being described as a timeless act holds a characteristic that spans across generations and cultures making our work something we take great pride in as we bridge the gap in our differences by way of music,” he adds. “A three tier team that has managed to keep Waka afloat in all categories of entertainment establishing him as a legacy artist that is celebrated by every walk of life.”
As for special requests, Bronson says, “We had numerous requests including the catapulting of our DJ on stage prior to Waka’s walk out. Accompanied by real life GOATs to act as a security barrier to avoid any fan frenzy notions of jumping on stage while he performs.” One of these ‘Real Life GOATs’ being the one and only Juicy J in Elting Gym acting as a stand-in bodyguard.
Although Spring Fest has come and gone, the memories and experiences that we, as a student body, made that night will last a lifetime. We came off an exciting ‘calm before the storm’ type of weekend preceding finals week, yet it is evident that the campus now looms with academic-induced stress and anxiety. It is important to keep in mind that optimism and drive will get you far. As a final note, Waka Flocka Flame says, “Hell is anxious. Hell is anxious for souls. [The saying] should be ‘anxious as Heaven.’ I’m telling you, words create reality.”
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