YBN Cordae draws large crowd at Welcome Back Concert

YBN Cordae’s studio album “The Lost Boy” peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart. He began his set with his single “Have Mercy” and brought Josh Heredia, a junior majoring in business administration, on stage from the crowd. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan)

Students crowded McCarthy Quad as they waited for Maryland rapper YBN Cordae to perform his headlining set at Saturday’s Welcome Back Concert. The annual concert, held by the Concerts Committee, drew over 7,000 attendees — almost 1,000 more than the year before. 

Cordae, whose debut studio album “The Lost Boy” peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart, began his headlining set around 10 p.m. with his single “Have Mercy.” Immediately after, he brought Josh Heredia, a junior majoring in business administration, on stage from the crowd. 

“I’m a big fan of Cordae and his music, and if someone were to tell me that on my first weekend at ’SC I would be called onstage by him, I would never have believed them,” Heredia said. “[It was a] night I will never forget.”

Due to Cordae’s relatively short discography, his set only lasted 40 minutes, which combined “Lost Boy” tracks like “Bad Idea” and “Thousand Words” with songs from “YBN: The Mixtape” such as “Target” and “Alaska (Scotty Pippen).” 

After playing “Kung Fu” twice, Cordae mouthed “Just drop it” to his DJ, prompting the opening sample of his Anderson .Paak-assisted track “RNP,” marking his first time playing the song live by himself. 

“YBN Cordae brought the energy, we matched it, opened up some pits and I lost both of my shoes,” said Mya Davis, a freshman at the Iovine and Young Academy. “It was great. I found them after the show, but the whole thing was amazing.”

Before Cordae jumped on the stage for his headlining set, London-based singer-songwriter Ama Lou opened the concert alongside her drummer and keyboardist. The 21-year-old performer’s set was met with mixed reviews, with some students using their phones as flashlights to wave alongside her music, while others talked over the set as they waited for the headliner of the night.

“When she started performing, I was like ‘… This girl can really sing,’” said Pilar Lee, a freshman majoring in journalism. “I’m definitely going to listen to her music more now … She can perform, she has the vocals and she has the moves.”

Compton native and Shady Records signee Boogie took the stage to “Silent Ride,” during which he shed his neon FUBU jacket and jumped down to perform up against the barrier that stood between the stage and the crowd. 

Accompanied with powerful visuals from his music videos, Boogie’s half-hour set primarily consisted of cuts from his album “Everythings For Sale,” including an acapella performance of  “Lolsmh,” a duet of “Swap Meet” with girlfriend BJRNCK, a singer from Chicago, and “No Warning,” which he dedicated to late rapper Nipsey Hussle.

Toward the end of his set, Boogie announced he wanted to “try something new,” warning students in the front to leave if they didn’t want to get injured. 

He then instructed the audience to separate into two sections, and after a brief countdown, the students charged toward each other, colliding into an impromptu mosh pit.

Overall, the concert received acclaim among students, with some of the attendees considering it better than those of previous years.

“I was here freshman year when Migos came, so I haven’t been to the front of the stage in a while,” said Andrea Williams, a senior majoring in media arts and practice. “We were actually up front this time, and then they started doing mosh pits again, which was not fun, but generally was a good time.”

As students waited for the concert’s acts, they were able to grab meals from food trucks parked along McCarthy Quad, including West Side Bahn Mi, The Boba Truck and Fat Sal’s. Additionally, The Fields LA provided students with free sandwiches, tacos and falafel.

Sponsorship booths also lined the area, handing students free merchandise. WAV, an app that live-streamed the concert and was one of the event’s primary sponsors, distributed free posters and long-sleeve shirts, while Bumble handed out branded fanny packs, bandanas and hats students wore throughout the event.

The Concerts Committee’s tent drew a long line with its wheel of prizes, offering students the chance to win pins, stickers and free tickets to upcoming concerts in Los Angeles. On the opposite end of the quad from the stage were interactive art installations, including a giant white tent with performance artists sitting inside and an entertainment room with live-streamed feeds.

“This was the smoothest show I’ve been a part of, we had the show live-streamed which had never happened before, and everything went smoothly with artists,” Concerts Committee co-executive director Leila Kashfi said.