Nearly everyone was excited about Lil Wayne’s performance at Monday night’s college football national championship game, except the governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, who tweeted: “Way to ruin an entertaining @Imaginedragons half-time concert with the weird rantings of a tired, has-been like @LilTunechi… One act still rising… The other, not so much…”
First of all, dude, appreciation of either musical act—headliner Imagine Dragons, or their special guest Lil Wayne—is not mutually exclusive. Weezy dropped in to perform his single “Uproar” and then deliver a bangin’ verse during Imagine Dragons’ oft-played single “Believer.” Frankly, the show needed more Lil Wayne. While some said he looked like the Hamburglar, social media thought his performance was better than Imagine Dragons.
Like so many ill-advised opinions these days, Bevin’s dislike of Lil Wayne has something more insidious at its core: racism, duh.
Bevin is a Republican who became Kentucky’s governor in 2015. He has ties to Donald Trump, and is ideologically extremely conservative. He’s drawn fire for previous social media comments that critics say are racist. While visiting a predominantly black neighborhood in Louisville, KY, Bevin expressed surprise that black schoolchildren could play chess. Bevin also opposes removing Confederate monuments in his state, calling it a "sanitization of history."
As someone known for holding bigoted opinions, Bevin's comments on Lil Wayne have racial overtones. He had no real reason to share his opinion about the halftime performers. The NCAA game was held at Levi's Stadium in California, not Kentucky. The teams playing were from South Carolina and Alabama. Bevin went out of his way to criticize a black artist for sharing a stage with a white band.
Many of Lil Wayne’s supporters have already clapped back at Bevin online, posting things like, “well if there's anyone who knows weird, tired rantings when they see 'em, it's you.”
Bevin’s comments came at a time when racial politics around football are already fraught. The NFL has been caught up in scandal since 2016, when Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem. The protest became a flashpoint for black activists as well as nationalists. Many artists of color have said they will not perform at the Super Bowl halftime show this year in solidarity with black athletes. College athletics programs are also under fire for profiting off student athletes, which disproportionately affects young people of color.
Unlike Bevin, I found Lil Wayne's performance at the NCAA national championship quite fresh. The rapper appeared onstage looking like a cross between Elton John and a blinged-out Minion. His rapid-fire verse during “Believer,” which I associate as the patron song of “Riverdale,” was skillfully delivered. The voice of Imagine Dragons’ lead singer Dan Reynolds, on the other hand, sounded strained most of the time.
So, if we’re making a judgement call on who did the better job performing at the national championship halftime show, it was Lil Wayne hands-down.
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