"September 18th, after we beat the Bengals, come down to Stage AE and say what's up to your boy," Mac Miller said in an Instagram video. The rapper foreshadowed a day which came to fruition as the Steelers beat the Bengals 24-16 at Heinz Field, and when he played his latest studio album, "The Divine Feminine," in front of his hometown.
Upon hearing of Mac's premier show at the venue neighboring the football stadium, Pittsburghers anticipated new music from their hometown hero and performances from the cast representative of local hip-hop. Originally, rappers Choo Jackson, The Come-Up, Hardo, and Jimmy Wopo repped The 'Burgh and Pouya, a South Florida native, completed the lineup opening for Mac.
The public was ready to hear Hardo and Wopo's truthful narratives about life in Pittsburgh hoods. "I done hit some niggas with that gun fire, Imma definitely ride for my bros," Hardo raps in "Drug Related." "I grew up in the projects we were starving... I made the motherfucking money, the money don't make me," Wopo says in his track "Walkn Bomb (Part 2)."
Both rappers have praise in the city. Their music is raw and illustrates Pittsburgh's underworld. Hardo and Wopo sensationalize gangster ways through jumping digital sounds. For those who can relate to them, and for those who cannot, they give a glimpse at how hard life can really be for some folks.
However, The Bureau of Pittsburgh Police, Promo West Live, and Stage AE did not see Hardo and Wopo's words as relatable stories. Instead, authorities and the concert promoters saw the rappers as high risks who incite violence, posing a danger to the show's attendees. Two days before Mac's homecoming concert, Promo West Live and Stage AE removed Hardo and Jimmy Wopo from the lineup, denying them their performances in front of the home crowd.
In more than 15 shows since May, there have been zero instances of violence at a Wopo show. Hardo shows feature hundreds of women screaming his name and men who support his music, all positivity. If there was evidence for the police, Promo West, and Stage AE to be suspicious of the two's performances, it was not evident or presented.
Subsequently, people on Twitter erupted at the hinted racial prejudice.
"You tell young black men to do better. Tell them to stop being in the streets. Well, where these young men are from the only way you make it out is to rap, play a sport or sell drugs and hope you don't get indicted or killed in the process. So, when they begin to do the only thing they know and are good at, you snatch all shreds of hope from them," Meez Lateef, a concert photographer, typed. "It's almost insulting to say that we, as a superior and intelligent human race, would be swayed at a concert to do something irrational because of the music presented," fellow musician Palermo Stone wrote. Mac encouraged Hardo and Wopo. "Continue inspiring, both of y'all," he tweeted.
Regardless of the feedback and frustration, Hardo and Wopo did not perform on September 18 at Stage AE. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police said they have "no authority to deny any performer the ability to perform at a venue within the city. However, the bureau does advise venues of the level of police security required at events. Apparently, the venue decided to act in the manner that they deemed appropriate." Presumptuously, the police advised Promo West and Stage AE that Hardo and Wopo were a risk. With the advice, Promo West and Stage AE acted as they did, unfairly.
"The unfairness is through the roof," Ryan Brown, attendee, and owner of Pixburgh lifestyle-wear farESH Brand said.
In the future, perhaps Kenny Chesney will be denied from performing at Heinz Field since he gets to "trash the city every year with no issue," thanks to thousands of his drunken fans, and the group of white men who assaulted a black man, after the concerts. Talk about high risk.
To digress, despite the bar of the specified performances, Mac Miller's concert went on fabulously. The support for the local and major artists, as well as the city, was beautiful. Local musician Mars Jackson described the night as "all inspiration," especially when The Come-Up called upon him to throw a Come-Up T-shirt into the large crowd. Choo Jackson referenced the phrase "black rock n roll," and it was true when he sang "I just left my side hoe cause I don't need you either. Did you see the diamond, they water Aquafina," in the track "Hydrate." Through it all, Wopo even had a moment of his own when the crowd began shouting, "we want Wopo!"
Art Like Us, operated by Xavier Thomas, photographed the occasion. "I had a good time," he said. Then, he mentioned that Mac's performance included "The Divine Feminine," and dipped in his catalog with songs like "INSOMIAK" and "When In Rome."
Listen to "The Divine Feminine" below.