B.o.B Headlining for VIBE Concert Sparks Controversy

Photo Courtesy of Fanpop

Photo Courtesy of Fanpop

Thursday, April 11, the Student Activities Board’s annual free student concert VIBE took place. The headliners this year were rapper B.o.B and pop singer Andy Grammer.

B.o.B, or Bobby Ray Simmons, is known for more than his popular rap tunes. In recent years, the rapper has become known for his controversial views and statements, especially within his music.

In one of his songs, “Flatline,” which is an entire tune dedicated to conspiracy theories, B.o.B, both mentions his belief in the “flat-earth” conspiracy and appears to support David Irving and his theories. Irving is a known Holocaust denier with strong anti-Semitic beliefs.

In the same line, B.o.B seems to reference an anti-Semitic conspiracy that the government is controlled by members of the Jewish community, while also stating that, “Stalin was way worse than Hitler.”

This controversial song is not the only place that the rapper has shared his problematic views. On Twitter, B.o.B has been known to post messages about his belief in the flat-earth conspiracy and has even faced off with respected astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who he also disses in “Flatline.”

His support for these conspiracies – along with others about the moon landing and cloning – has affected B.o.B’s performances at other universities. Last April, the Campus Activities Board at Boston College, a private Jesuit university in Massachusetts, invited the rapper to perform at their spring concert, which proved to be an unpopular decision among many of the students.

The Anti-Defamation League in Boston told reporters that they were “disappointed” that the rapper had not apologized for his lyrics and statements promoting anti-Semitic beliefs – a feeling shared by many other BC students.

B.o.B also drew criticism from the students at Drake University in Iowa where he was scheduled to perform. A statement from the Drake University Hillel organization urged students to support the University’s Jewish students by not attending, writing, “A few hours of entertainment should not be more important than our identity as Jewish students.”

The University News reached out to the Student Activities Board to discuss the controversy. While SAB was unable to sit down for an interview, VP of events, Sequoyah Lopez, did express a willingness to meet with the UNews in the future and sent the statement that SAB follows for all their event-booking:

SAB believes that all students should be able to enjoy free activities, paid for by their own activity fee, without bias, hate, or intolerance. SAB aims to provide a range of varied, inclusive programming. SAB accepts a performer’s right to creativity, however, an invitation for a performance on our campus does not indiscriminately express an overt endorsement or approval of the performer’s ideals on behalf of SAB or Saint Louis University. Tonight’s performers’ intellectual property is exclusively their own. Thank you.”

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