Last week in Salt Lake City at the city’s weekly Twilight Concert Series, popular rap artist Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and opening act Two-9 performed in front of a record crowd of 40,000 people.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s David Burger reviewed the concert, and a number of things he pointed out in the column really stood out to me. From Burger’s review:
“Two-9 frequently baited the large number of police in the audience by asking the crowd what they thought of the police, a question answered by the band and the audience with their middle fingers raised into the air. Two-9 also told the crowd, “If you’re smoking weed, make some noise,” which drew a deafening response, accompanied by clouds of smoke wafting into the air that were illuminated by spotlights.”
I’m all for diversifying up Utah. Even with all Salt Lake City has going for it, it’s still about as vanilla as cities come, and clearly there is a market for this type of music given the record crowd. But is the city really going to stand behind bringing in acts that openly call for illegal drug use and baiting police? Burger continues:
An early highlight of Ludacris’ set was his song “Area Codes,” in which he proclaimed that “I’ve got ho’s, in different area codes,” and thoughtfully included Utah’s own 801 area code.
Okay. I get that I’m a white guy commenting on this. I realize that I could easily get struck down for being too sensitive. But the Twilight Concert Series is a series of events put on by the Salt Lake City Arts Council. An official government entity. Taxpayer dollars.
This kind of programming from a city organization is, for lack of a better word, ludicrous. I have absolutely no problem with a Two-9 concert or Ludacris saying whatever they want when they are doing their own event at a private arena/venue — although I really don’t approve of advocating cop killing and drug use. But the Salt Lake City Arts Council needs to set some standards. There could be a lot of debate about how they would adhere to such community standards, and it could be argued that bringing in rap acts like Ludacris/Two-9 and, this next week, Kid Cudi, are simply representing those parts of the community.
But I don’t buy it. The Twilight Concert Series is a gem in the arts portfolio of Salt Lake. The Arts Council doesn’t need to bring in a wide range of acts to appeal to everyone (I’m not saying they need to bring in country, and opera, and classical, and rap, and indie, and rock, and jazz, etc…) but they should bring in acts that don’t openly advocate for violating the law and piss on some of the values that the people of Utah hold most dear.
When I read Burger’s column, I wondered if there was an outrage over the events in Utah. Certainly there will be a large crowd who will crow the frequent refrain, “If you don’t like it, don’t attend.” But in this case, a lot of people who would be disgusted with the content pay tax dollars that, directly or indirectly, support the SLC Arts Council. I’m not saying every act that comes to Twilight should be Osmond-esque. But I think it’s safe to say that there’s plenty of space between the Osmonds and “Ho’s” that plenty of acts could fill and many Utahns would find equally appealing.Buffer