Rap star Fetty Wap, who is to perform a free concert for Paterson high school students, may not have a venue to perform in if it rains next Thursday.
Wap is slated to perform at the open air Bauerle Field on Oak Street, but in the event of rain the concert was to be moved to John F. Kennedy High School, according to mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ announcement earlier in the week.
School officials on Wednesday evening raised doubts about the alternative venue.
“The district has not agreed to co-sponsor the activity,” said state-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans.
The superintendent said there have been communications with the mayor, but there was no agreement that the district would jointly host the city born rapper’s concert.
School board member Christopher Irving pointed out that information was circulated that clearly stated the concert would be hosted at the Preakness Avenue high school if it rained on August 27th, 2015.
The rain site advertised is John F. Kennedy High School, said Irving.
“You’re telling me something I didn’t know,” remarked Evans.
On Saturday flyers were circulating that read the superintendent and the mayor were hosting the concert in tandem.
Irving said he was concerned about the number of people who would come out to see the chart topping rapper not just from Paterson but Clifton, Passaic, and other surrounding communities. He said 1,200 students will not fit in the auditorium of the high school.
School board president Jonathan Hodges said the board was not contacted about the concert. He said if it was he would raise questions about the appropriateness of some of Wap’s lyrics that include such things as cooking crack-cocaine.
Hodges said some of Wap’s lyrics have negative remarks about education.
“This young man’s lyrics are provocative and may not be appropriate for our high school students,” said Hodges. He said maybe the rapper could have slightly altered some of the lyrics for the occasion.
Hodges said he would have also suggested adding an educational message highlighting the importance of education at the beginning of the concert and a second message at the end telling the crowd to depart peacefully.
“We may have people that come from the surrounding communities, not be able to get in, and that could result in tension and tumult,” said Hodges. School board members said they do not want the district burdened with the security expenses for concert or incur liabilities that may arise from it.
Three of Wap’s songs appear on the Bilboard Top 20 chart making him one of the most popular artists in the United States and the world.
Lilisa Mimms, school board member, thought the school board was being critical of Wap. She pointed out the rapper’s father is a church leader and his mother is an educator. “It sounds to me we’re being critical of his lyrics and what he’s talking about,” she said. “We may not like the lyrics, but it’s something our kids are listening to.”
Mimms said the district should not completely close the door co-sponsoring the event. She suggested a discussion with Wap’s management team.
Evans did not completely say the high school will be off limits. He said he has been in communication with the mayor about the concert. In fact, Evans said he exchanged messages with Torres prior to Wednesday’s school board meeting.
The superintendent did not rule out a non-monetary role for the school district.
“We really need to take another look at it and not be so quick to say no,” said Mimms.