Rico Nasty to headline 2019 Conquest, bonfire canceled

USC Concerts Committee announced rapper Rico Nasty as its headlining act for this year’s Conquest concert Thursday. EDM artist Channel Tres will open the event.
(Photo from Atlantic Records)

Thursday’s Conquest festivities will no longer include a bonfire, as Trojan Pride Committee decided to cancel the annual bonfire in light of the Getty fire and will replace it with alternative activities. The USC Concerts Committee also announced Friday that rapper-songwriter Rico Nasty will headline this year’s Conquest concert.

Students said having Rico Nasty as a headliner came as a pleasant surprise, lauding the committee for booking a Black female rapper with an “edgier” background than many others in the genre.

“She doesn’t look like Nicki Minaj, and not in any type of negative way, but just like very different types … Black women in rap don’t have to be one type of image,” said Tia Richards, a sophomore majoring in public relations. “Especially considering the fact that USC is such a predominantly white institution, I think it’s cool that there is a headliner for the other population that goes here as well.”

Jonathan D’Aguilar, a freshman majoring in public relations, said he began listening to Rico Nasty’s music as a freshman in high school and is looking forward to seeing her live Thursday.

“As my first Conquest, it’s like a pretty big thing for me,” D’Aguilar said. “Rico Nasty is a little bit different from all [her peer artists]. She has a unique style of fashion and of music and rapping.”

The concert will take place Thursday at 5 p.m. in McCarthy Quad and also features EDM artist Channel Tres as its opener. Along with the concert, Conquest 2019 will include a rally that will feature the Song Girls, the Spirit of Troy, drag queen Angel Dust, USC Spirit Leaders and the football team, in addition to food trucks, carnival activities and more.

This year’s bonfire, an annual USC tradition first recorded in 1912, has been canceled due to concerns of insensitivity following the Getty fire, which was contained earlier this month after damaging 25 residences in the Los Angeles area, according to the L.A. Fire Department. The Los Angeles fire marshal and Student Affairs canceled last year’s bonfire due to air quality concerns.

According to the executive board of the Undergraduate Student Government Trojan Pride Committee, which plans the annual Conquest activities and opted to replace the bonfire with alternative activities, the decision to cancel the bonfire was made in conjunction with the UCLA Bruin Spirit Committee in recognition of the hardships those affected by the fire endured.

“It’s a really tough decision for us to cancel the bonfire because we can understand the cultural significance behind the event,” said Henry He, the director of the Trojan Pride Committee. “We feel like we are making the best decision we can right now because we definitely need to be respectful for the people [impacted by the fire] in the first place.”

In place of the bonfire, the committee plans to set up a mural for students to cover with handprints and will hold a “Pie the Bruin” activity during which students will throw pie tins of whipped cream at a wooden Bruin structure similar to the one usually burned in the bonfire.

“A rivalry game allows us to all unite against UCLA, and the bonfire — along with other events that we do — sort of symbolize that spirit, the Trojan pride that we have,” said Helen Yin, a freshman majoring in business administration. “I think it’s also a hallmark of a tradition in college too, just to feel that college spirit.”