Green Key delivers diverse set of headliners
This year, Waka Flocka Flame, Two Friends and MAX will headline the Green Key concert. Read below for profiles on these artists — and what students should expect to see at the concert tonight.
Waka Flocka Flame
A few weeks ago, the College’s Programming Board announced that this year’s Green Key headliner is Atlanta-based rapper Waka Flocka Flame. If this name does not immediately register for you, here is what you need to know. Emerging onto the mainstream rap game in the early 2000s, Waka Flocka was signed with 1017 Records — better known as 1017 Brick Squad — and Warner Bros. Records in 2009. Christened with the moniker “Flame” by none other than Atlanta rap royalty Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka has long enjoyed the respect of hip-hop’s Southern pantheon. Though today his affiliation with Brick Squad has since dissolved, Waka Flocka luckily made a name for himself early on that has followed him throughout his career and shifts in affiliation.
A master of the infectious and all-consuming trap anthem, Waka Flocka’s hit songs, such as “O Let’s Do It,” “Hard in da Paint” and “No Hands,” are best known for their raucousness. Setting the tone for the rest of Green Key weekend, Waka Flocka’s set will likely include many of these fan favorites. A testament to the timelessness of this particular genre of “turn-up” music and Waka’s own musical sensibility, his songs promise to invigorate audiences even an entire decade later. At its best, trap music narrates social circumstance while demanding audience engagement. The subgenre is, perhaps, defined by its sonic allowance of the expression of pent-up energies. Tracks like “No Hands” have the ability to surpass any inhibitions or awkwardness and bring audiences to elevated levels of freedom and excitement — a musical power that fits Green Key’s needs perfectly.
Energetic and brash in the best way, Waka Flocka’s style of music is sure to hype up the crowd and generate intensity. That being said, the Programming Board released a statement on its Instagram page addressing the complex relationship between language and identity as it relates to Friday’s show and presumably Waka Flocka’s set. Its post reads, “Think before you sing along: not all words belong to all people. The n-word doesn’t.” For the sake of the event and the enjoyment of all in attendance, one can only hope that people will heed this message. Either way, Wacka is sure to drown out the noise.
A collaboration between friends Eli Sones and Matthew Halper, Los Angeles-based DJ duo Two Friends first won mainstream attention in 2014 when their remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die” gained traction on SiriusXM. With a masterful balance of innovation and preservation, Two Friends’ EDM remixes bridge the gaps between musical genres and imagine new possibilities for songs. Their ability to blend songs seamlessly — putting songs in a new light and rediscovering their potential — can be seen in their extensive collection of hour-long “Big Bootie” remixes and their infamous combinations of throwback songs and recent chart-toppers such as Echosmith’s “Cool Kids” and Dua Lipa’s “IDGAF.”
The duo began producing EDM music in high school as Sones began to take an interest in electronic music production, while Halper was more of a classical, acoustic musician, playing guitar and singing in the school choir. Their musical backgrounds and their resulting appreciation for more traditional forms of music have a clear, noticeable impact in their music and distinct musical style; they often incorporate musical accents from trumpeters and saxophonists, who also make appearances as guest performers in their live concerts, a surprise worth looking forward to for Green Key. Furthermore, their versatility in music not only allows them to bring together unlikely musical combinations but also lets them make their music stylistically inconsistent, transcending the restrictions of musical genres. They were originally a progressive house group but explored other genres extensively, and in 2016, they represented their music as a part of the “soul house genre” — their take on house music that highlighted bass, piano and saxophone. Today, they admit that they likely have already moved on past the boundaries of that musical label.
Regardless of the difficulty in categorizing Two Friends’ complex music into one distinct box, what remains indisputable is that their music and live performance presence strives to be energetic and fun and will be a valuable contributor to Green Key festivities.
Opening the Green Key concert is Maxwell Schneider, known professionally as MAX. A pop singer-songwriter, MAX is known best for his smash hit “Lights Down Low,” a song that was released in 2016 but received a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America for selling more than a million copies in 2018.
Born in Hells Kitchen in New York City, MAX spent much of his young adulthood involved in the arts in some capacity. As a teenager, he starred in the Broadway musical “Thirteen, a New Musical” and modeled in national ad campaigns alongside celebrities like Madonna. He got his start as a songwriter working for Disney Channel, penning a song for the show “Shake It Up.” He continued to explore acting on the Nickelodeon show “How to Rock” and in the network’s original movie “Rags.” MAX continued to work as an actor until 2015 when Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz signed him to his record label DCD2 records, which allowed MAX to focus more exclusively on his career as a solo artist.
In 2016, MAX released his first complete album that was accessible to all (“NWL,” an album he released earlier, was only available to those who helped fund the album) “Hell’s Kitchen Angel,” featuring songs like “Mug Shot,” “Gibberish” and of course, “Lights Down Low,” his claim to fame. “Lights Down Low” was originally released with “Hell’s Kitchen Angel” as an additional single; however, the song became a sleeper hit after MAX revisited the song and added a new collaborative element with rapper gnash. MAX has also been a part of several other successful collaborations, including “Team” with Noah Cyrus and “Love Me Less” with Quinn XCII, who performed at Green Key last year.
Though he has only been a solo artist for a short time, MAX has amassed some award nominations. In addition to going platinum, “Lights Down Low” peaked at No. 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. He was also nominated for Breakout Artist and Original Song at the Streamy Awards and Best New Pop Artist at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. All in all, MAX is an up-and-coming artist sure to get the party started this Green Key.