The College Events Board announced last Wednesday that Tyga, a hip-hop artist known for the hit single “Rack City” will headline this year’s Yardfest. Tyga is notorious for his explicitly and violently misogynistic lyrics. In his song “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” Tyga raps, “Need a bitch that can fuck, cook, clean, right. Turn a bitch out, make her lick twice.” In “Bitch Betta Have My Money,” Tyga raps, “Shut the fuck up and jump on this dick. Nothing but a motherfucking skank. Fuck what you talking bout and fuck what you think.”
We hope that the College Events Board can find a different headliner for Yardfest. However, we believe that a Yardfest without a headliner would be better than a Yardfest that amplifies misogyny and violence. We demand that Harvard rescind its offer to Tyga, because we believe that Harvard should not provide a platform for music that promotes sexism and rape culture.
We understand that Tyga is not representative of hip-hop as a genre, nor do we hope to position hip-hop and feminism in opposition to each other. We recognize that other performers at Harvard sanctioned events have problematic lyrics and regret that opposition campaigns were not launched towards these artists as well.
The problems that pervade Tyga’s music dominate mainstream society and are endemic to Harvard’s campus. Violence and sexism are not unique to Tyga’s music; deeper, systemic changes must be made. However, Tyga’s invitation to perform at Yardfest provides an opportunity for a tangible, if short term, response to rape culture. Activism surrounding Tyga’s performance at Harvard should not be divorced from activism around larger structural issues of race, gender, and homophobia.