Three days ago, Kendrick Lamar posted a mysterious teaser video that saw him hint at a 12/16 date in Brooklyn with American Express. The next morning, Billboard revealed that the seven-time Grammy Award winner and master of all things Hip-Hop would be performing a secret show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg the following day. The show sold out immediately.Lamar’s partnership with AmEx comes at the end of another hugely successful year for the rap phenomenon, who won five out of eleven nominations at this year’s Grammy Awards for To Pimp A Butterfly, coming after two wins for good kid, m.A.A.d city. The Compton native made even bigger strides in his fame when he released untitled unmastered. earlier this year documenting a collection of unreleased demos that originated during the Butterfly recording sessions. This album came in the middle of the night with no title, no artwork, no song names, completely untouched. It was a brilliant masterpiece from the bottom up.So when news broke that one of the most prolific artists in Hip-Hop would be playing a small venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, people freaked. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to play for a room like this,” he said, after a rip-roaring “Levitate” to open up the one-set performance. The Wesley Theory was tight, with a simple set up for drums, bass, guitar, and keys. In a career-spanning setlist, every song felt like the anthem for the night. From the early day’s “A.D.H.D” and “Swimming Pool (Drank) to “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” to his newer, universally acclaimed hits like “King Kunta”, “Alright”, and songs off the untitled unmastered. Every single person in that room had a moment with themselves. I’d estimate less than 300 people were lucky enough to stand before King Kendrick during this intimate performance. The stage was built further out than normal at the 550-cap room, and production staff took up half the banisters in all four corners. The entire show was filmed, with over 35 minutes of it shared through Kendrick’s Facebook Live.The music was for everyone, drawing from jazz, funk, soul, and spoken word. As he mentions in the beginning clip of the Facebook Live video, Kendrick often incorporates freestyle in his rap verses. We all watched with eyes wide open as he’d lock in to certain people in the crowd and go against the recorded lyrics. It was pure and heavy art, music, and improvisation.Toward the end of his set, that we wished would last forever, the master went against the script and invited fans to the stage to freestyle over beats made by the band. At random, he picked three people to join him and his band. The first person did not do well, and was consequently booed off the stage. The second person did a fantastic job, going back and forth with Kendrick like a real pro. It was obvious that his dreams were coming true before us all, and for that he earned enormous applause. The third person went a cappella, digging deep into the poetic field of dark, political topics that Kendrick is so well known to explore in his own music; his name is Kemba and can be found on YouTube. All three of these performances are also included in the Facebook Live performance below.Kendrick Lamar closed the night with “i”, which won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. From beginning to end, the performance was a testament to the truth. Closing out what seems to be one of the most confusing, ratchet years of our lifetime, Kendrick continuously uses his spotlight to open the doors to conversations of social grievances and political impurities. His ability to unabashedly confront these issues with such profound modes of artistic expression is a revitalizing reality that demands reprise. 2017 will inevitably bring a revolution in musical messages as we face big changes in our country’s morale. When art imitates life, in these tumultuous times, we should all be sure to consume it. It certainly helps with the taste.Watch the set-closing “i” below, as shot by myself:Watch “Swimming Pool (Drank)” into “m.A.A.d city”:[photo via Instagram user @jnsilva]
On May 1, the traditional reply date for newly admitted students, nearly 84 percent of those accepted to the Class of 2024 indicated they would be coming to Harvard in August — the highest yield since the early 1970s.But with the impact of COVID-19, that yield has dropped to 81 percent as a number of students asked to defer their admission to the Class of 2025. The yield for the Class of 2023 was 82.1 percent. A small number of students have been admitted from the waiting list so far. The admissions year will conclude by the end of July.“The Class of 2024 is comprised of so many of the nation’s and world’s promising students,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. “We are delighted that they have chosen Harvard for their undergraduate experiences, and we look forward to seeing all they accomplish in their years here.”Students with the Undergraduate Admissions Council, Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program, Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, Harvard First Generation Program, and Harvard College Connection continued their annual recruitment efforts this year by calling and emailing applicants to answer questions and highlight specific opportunities: 130-plus freshman seminars; a robust support system that provides more than 400 first-year advisers, 200 peer advising fellows, and 60 resident proctors; research opportunities with close faculty collaboration; 49 newly created secondary fields; and a revised General Education program.Financial aid was a crucial consideration for a large number of those enrolling in the Class of 2024. More than half the entering class applied for financial aid; 22.4 percent qualified for the low-income portion of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative; and 26.0 percent requested application fee waivers.Over the past year, Harvard spent more than $200 million on undergraduate financial aid. One in five Harvard families has an annual income of less than $65,000 and pays nothing toward the cost of their student’s education. Families with incomes up to $150,000 with typical assets pay 10 percent or less of their annual incomes, and many with higher incomes also qualify for assistance depending on individual circumstances. The families of Harvard students receiving need-based financial aid pay an average of only $12,000, and students are never required to take out loans to cover the cost of their education.Harvard is committed to ensuring that all students take full advantage of their College experience. In addition to grants to cover the basic cost of attendance, Harvard provides more than $6 million a year in additional funding to students, supporting everything from winter coats to music lessons to studying abroad to public service internships to laboratory research experiences. Students with the least assets also receive a $2,000 “start-up” grant to help ease their transition to the College and allow them to explore the vast opportunities available.In addition, earlier this year Harvard announced it would expand its financial aid program by eliminating from aid awards the summer work expectation beginning in the 2020–21 academic year. Students still will be expected to contribute $3,500 through term-time work to meet their estimated personal expenses. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences is investing an estimated $2 million to fund the program expansion. The goal is to provide aided students with more flexibility to pursue academic, public service, or internship opportunities during the summer.At this time, women and men comprise about 51.8 and 48.2 percent of the class, respectively. Prospective social science concentrators constitute 27.0 percent of the new first-year students; 19.9 percent are interested in the biological sciences; 15.1 percent in the humanities; 9.5 percent in engineering; 6.8 percent in computer science; 7.4 percent in the physical sciences; 7.0 percent in mathematics, and 7.2 percent are undecided. Asian Americans make up 24.6 percent of the class; African Americans 13.9; Latinx 11.8 percent; and Native Americans and Native Hawaiians 2.0 percent. International students constitute 11.5 percent of the class. Geographical origins of the Class of 2024 are similar to last year’s class. First-generation college students make up 18.7 percent of the class.Twelve veterans and 34 students who expressed an interest in ROTC are among the members of the class. In recent years, Harvard has increased efforts to recruit individuals who have served in the U.S. military, working with the Defense Department, joining Service to School’s Vetlink program in 2017, and conducting outreach via community college centers for veterans.