Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Smino rocks at A&O Ball, calls NU “beautiful”

Francesco Thorik-Saboia/The Daily Northwestern
This year’s A&O Ball featured student opener DJ STRFRY, Chicago-based artist m.e.h., rapper Ausar and Smino.

As Smino took the stage at A&O Ball on Friday night, there was an elephant in the room in the form of a banner with a post he wrote on social platform X in 2014: “i think im at NorthWestern university . if so, yall hoes are UGLY bruh.”

Ten years later, the St. Louis rapper had a different take. At the end of the concert, he held up the banner, brought by A&O members, and read it aloud, changing the last words to “beautiful, bruh!” with emphasis. He offered to sign the tapestry backstage after the concert.

“I think he reacted to the tweet very well,” Communication senior Nozizwe Msipa said. “It was pretty funny that he embraced it and is changing the narrative. We’re very pretty people, us Northwestern hoes.”

The Ball was Smino’s third time performing at NU. He performed at Dillo Day in 2016 and opened for Carly Rae Jepson at A&O’s Blowout concert in 2018.

Weinberg senior and A&O Head of Concerts Sophia Liu said the organization was excited to host Smino again because of his stage presence and well-known catalog.

The concert had two opening acts, m.e.h. and Ausar, both Chicago-based artists.

“We’ve never had two openers for Ball before, and it was an awesome opportunity to showcase local talent,” Liu said.

m.e.h., the first opener, performed a mix of upbeat and low-tempo songs. The crowd cheered during her bandmates’ solos.

R&B artist Ausar prepared the crowd for Smino, and the audience laughed at many of his quips. Early in his performance, he took off his coat to reveal a cable knit Tommy Hilfiger sweater.

“Had to take the coat off ’cause I’m in my R&B bag,” he said. “I’m wearing an R&B sweater.”

Recording engineer Jeff Thompson, known as Jeffontheboards, introduced Smino, accompanying the rapper on stage while dancing to the music. Smino performed a variety of songs from his discography, including “Rice ’N Gravy” and “Z4L.”

The rapper kept the energy high for the entirety of his hour-long set, Weinberg sophomore Patrick Hooley said.

“I thought he was a really good performer,” Hooley said. “For someone who really doesn’t listen to his music much, it was still a really enjoyable time.”

This year’s Ball overlapped with the second day of the pro-Palestine encampment on Deering Meadow, organized by the NU Divestment Coalition. On Friday afternoon, A&O’s executive board shared a statement of support on Instagram.

“In light of events on campus, we understand that attending Ball is not a priority,” they wrote. “We support students’ rights to exercise their freedom of speech and rights to assemble. We want to extend our support and safe wishes to students who are and will be participating in Northwestern’s encampment on Deering Lawn.”

The board also encouraged students to donate to organizations aiding Palestinians, such as the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance.

Smino, m.e.h. and Ausar also voiced their support for the student demonstrators during the concert.

“I’ve never been a supporter of the unjust killing of people,” Ausar, a local artist, said. “Love what you all are doing, if anyone is available to help out anymore, to donate to the cause, please do. And keep doing what y’all doing.”

After the concert, Smino also sent his support to the encampment over a FaceTime call.

Communication sophomore Zeke Ader said he appreciated the community aspect of the concert.

“It’s a really cool experience to have a student event in Chicago at a real concert venue,” he said. “To have the stage surrounded entirely by NU students was really cool.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @jahariia

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