February 9, 2016

HICKMON | The Rise and Fall of Cornell Through the Lens of Slope Day

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My freshman year was so lit. Not only was Kendrick Lamar our Slope Day performer in 2013, but Nas, Jhene Aiko, Elle Varner and John Legend also graced our campus. So, you can imagine my disappointment when this year’s Slope Day artists were announced. Like seriously, who are Walk the Moon and Cash Cash? Do not get me wrong, I understand that Cornell is comprised of thousands of students with varying music tastes but these people were not even on the survey that was sent out at the beginning of this school year. I know they were not on there because I distinctly remember either typing in or selecting Fetty Wap! Come on, everyone loves Fetty.

Slope Day is usually headlined by a hip-hop artist with a pop, EDM or more rave-ish artist opening for the main act. Before I came to Cornell, Drake, Snoop Dogg and T.I. performed. Those sound like Slope Days I would have been ecstatic to attend. But no, after Kendrick there was Ludacris — which I guess was cool. I can respect the Slope Day programming committee for bringing it back to the 99s and 2000s one time for the one time. The year after Luda, there was Chance the Rapper. Now, Chance is a great artist. I love “Juice” and “Sunday Candy” is pretty much on a constant loop in my Spotify. But, Chance is not a Slope Day artist. He is way too mellow for Slope Day — way too mellow. I am positive I left the slope maybe 10 minutes into his set last year because it just was not hype enough for me.

Slope Day is a celebration! We made it through another year of the ivy-covered hell halls of Cornell University (please catch this Gilmore Girls reference, guys). And, maybe it is just me, but I just feel like the people who make decisions that affect us as students — whether it relates to health care at Gannett, the formation of new colleges or majors, concerts, etc. — are so out of touch. Don’t get me wrong, this could be due to the unique viewpoint that I’m bringing to the table due to how I identify, which for the record does not make my opinion invalid, it just qualifies it as simply that my opinion rooted in my locus of being. But, let us be real, I also know I am not the only one who reacted to Moon Walk and Cash Cash in dismay because seriously, who are they?

Why bother having me fill out a survey on who I want to see perform at Slope Day, the state of mental health in my community, my opinion on the faculty who teach me, or other university policies if my views are not going to be reflected in a real tangible way? I would rather the powers that be just do what they want instead of asking me how I feel only to ignore my answer. Either that, or truly give me the resources to bring the things I want to see to campus. Programming that reflect the interests of my various communities, speakers that get booked for Bailey Hall and not Sage Chapel so that people can actually get in to attend the talk (ie: the #BlackLivesMatter event that happened last week) and Slope Day artists that make me want to run to the front of Libe Slope and twerk on the stage.

If Slope Day artists are a reflection of the direction that Cornell is heading in, then I’m glad I’m graduating when I am. Shoutout to the class of 2016, we had the best freshman Slope Day ever.

Gabrielle Hickmon is a senior in the College of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at ghickmon@cornellsun.com. Gabbing with Gabby appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

  • Dino

    Ok get over it – nobody is ever happy. You mention Drake. I was there for Drake and am a fan and loved it. However, this was before his first album came out, and the majority of campus was OUTRAGED. The year before we had the Pussycat Dolls…like wut? And Chance last year was dope. He is an amazing performer and not mellow at all, he has so much energy. So honestly I will repeat what I started with – get over it. There is no downward trend here, just ups and downs based on your musical preference. Cornell is a huge community, you can’t expect your opinion on all of their decisions to be the center of the debate.

  • SilentMajority

    Yeah, so to you the music artist is changin to a genre you don’t like, and for a huge percentage of other Cornellians we are finally getting someone we will actually enjoy after three years. Slope Day is supposed to be a big party, so I’m all for having music we an actually dance to.

  • Zach Falk

    “But, let us be real, I also know I am not the only one who reacted to Moon Walk and Cash Cash in dismay because seriously, who are they?’

    I too have no idea who “Moon Walk” is.

  • Distressed Statistician

    Near the end of your column, you say “Why bother having me fill out a survey […] if my views are not going to be reflected in a real tangible way?” Just because your view in a survey isn’t specifically reflected doesn’t mean that the survey failed. Maybe other views came through more strongly. Maybe others don’t want a rapper for a change. Honestly, this self-centered column represents a fundamental misunderstanding of a what a survey is in this context. A survey isn’t a demand to get exactly what *you* want. A survey is a way to see what would work best for *everyone*.

  • Anna Sun

    I wholeheartedly disagree with you. I was elated to have Walk the Moon (who can possibly resist rocking out to ‘Shut Up and Dance’?!) announced after 3 years of rap artists I had never heard of. This is the first Slope Day concert I’m actually excited to go to. When we’ve had artists from a genre you like for 3 years in a row, I don’t think it’s fair to complain about having a different genre in the 4th. I’m with SilentMajority, this year we’ll have music you can really dance to and I for one can’t wait.

    • Cornell ’15

      I agree that Slope Day artists should be more varied in genre, but what rock have you been living under to not have heard of Ludacris before he came in 2014? I can understand not having heard of Kendrick, since he came before he got more famous, but not having heard of Luda? Really? He’s been active in the industry since the late ’90s, and just because some spoiled college kids have never heard of him doesn’t mean he isn’t a good entertainer. I’ll be at Slope Day this year, and I plan to have a good time. But the hate for the talented hip hop and rap artists that the Programming Board has brought in over the last few years baffles me, especially since people still show up and have fun regardless.

  • Lauren

    This entire article comes from an extremely biased point of view. Not everyone listens to rap/hip-hop/EDM, and contrary to popular belief, those are not the only genres that you can dance to. Personally, I wrote in Walk the Moon on the Slope Day survey under the “Other artists” section, and I know a lot of people who did the same. Just because one of your selections was not chosen does not mean that the survey was not used. Walk the Moon is an amazing band to dance to, drink to, party to, and just listen to. They hit all the traits that a Slope Day artist should have: catchy tunes, upbeat music, high energy band members, and an ability to connect with a crowd of listeners. Although Cash Cash is a bit less known (at least from what I’ve heard around campus), they do have quite a few hit singles and I am sure Cornell students will get their fair share of house music from them. It’s reasonable to assume many Cornell students wanted a rap/hip-hop artist, but also know that there are a ton of students who wanted other genres and types of musicians [additionally, in my humble opinion, bands are so much more fun to listen to and dance to than single artists].
    Additionally, I do not believe the Slope Day Programming Board is blatantly disregarding great rap and hip-hop artists. I am sure that they considered any and all possibilities. It just so happens that Walk the Moon and Cash Cash came out on top. When you look at Slope Day choices logistically, it makes sense to select a band/artist that just enough people know, rather than extremely famous and mainstream artists. This saves money, yes, but it also makes for a more intimate venue and less danger for the artists themselves (because some students would definitely do crazy things for artists like Beyonce).
    Before you say “I also know I am not the only one who reacted to Moon Walk and Cash Cash in dismay because seriously, who are they,” make sure you know that there are indeed a LARGE number of students on campus who WANTED these artists. When I shared the Slope Day announcement to my Facebook page, multiple people from other schools commented and told me how jealous they were that Walk the Moon AND Cash Cash were coming. Any true music lover will know that it doesn’t matter how big the artist is, it matters how they sound. And you definitely are missing out when you say you haven’t heard of Walk the Moon. I recommend you listen to “Avalance,” “Shut Up and Dance,” “Tightrope,” “Anna Sun,” and “Work This Body,” and try to resist liking them.