How NLE Choppa Ended Up Playing GustavusThe acclaimed hip-hop artist will perform in the Don Roberts Arena on Friday, Apr. 19.
Posted on April 18th, 2024 by

NLE Choppa will make his only Minnesota appearance this spring at Lund Center on Friday, Apr. 19. (CREDIT: Jimmy Fontaine)

On Friday, April 19, at 8 p.m. Gustavus students, residents of Mankato, and folks from the University of Minnesota, will flock by the hundreds to the Lund Center to see “Shotta Flow” rapper NLE Choppa, the headliner of the College’s most hyped concert of the decade.

When the announcement of the concert landed in February, shock and awe reverberated around the Gustavus student body. First of all, holy, actual what-in-the-world?! Second, when did our Campus Activities Board (CAB)—more widely known for staging and promoting very accessible, easygoing events (think bingo and blow-up slide shows in the Green Room)—decide to book a rapper whose lyrics are nothing if not edgy? More importantly, how did they get it past the Dean of Students office? And finally, how did CAB manage to pull the event together by reaching out to NLE Choppa himself and advertising the concert way past Gustavus into Dinkytown and Mankato?

Ama Tuffour ‘24 was the student CAB member largely responsible for putting together the setup and arrangement for the concert itself. “What we sent [to students for voting] was a list divided into genres and cost,” Tuffour said. “We specified the amount of money we were willing to pay and didn’t want to go over that.”

Despite his presence on that list, NLE Choppa only garnered a handful of votes during the first few rounds. However, that quickly changed. When the list was narrowed down, a YikYak commenter anonymously remarked how funny it would be if the Memphis-based artist performed at Gustavus.

That got the ball rolling. Soon, students were motivated, either by enthusiasm or a sense of humor, to vote for the rapper. “We had a vote after he began winning as to whether to cut or keep him,” Tuffour said.  “The question of some of his lyrics came up, and we wondered if he could fit into the kinds of things that CAB normally does.” (About those lyrics: Imagine someone straight out of the early gangster rap scene, only inflecting all sorts of Generation Z terminology. That is essentially what you have with NLE Choppa, who, per Kayfabe tradition, will intentionally and exaggeratedly detail his power, wealth, and ability to do anything up to [mess] you up should you dare to test him.) Ultimately, CAB decided that, if the student body wanted it and we could afford it, they should let the Gusties have the concert they chose. At the heart of CAB’s mission, after all, is to appeal to as many students as possible. 

If the mere act of confirming him as the target artist for Gustavus’s first major concert since before the pandemic, going through his “people,” and running a marketing campaign was another massive endeavor. CAB first reached out to DEGY Entertainment  and asked them to contact NLE Choppa. Because he regularly tours college campuses, they didn’t need much convincing to get him to show up to a private liberal arts college in the middle of southern Minnesota.

After the rapper’s appearance fee was negotiated down to $55,000, CAB emphasized the behavior expected of him at Gustavus. This included a meeting that Doug Thompson, the Vice President of DEIB, had with the deans, and suddenly we had the okay for Gustavus to put the concert on.

Once NLE Choppa was secured, it fell to CAB’s marketing division to send the word out across Minnesota, over hill, over dale, and all the way into Mankato and up to Dinkytown. “Our first task was printing out a bunch of posters and distributing them around Saint Peter and Mankato,” said CAB’s social media executive Raquel Vaughn ‘25. She also confirmed that someone had dropped posters at various bars around the Twin Cities.

CAB also decided it was critical to reserve an entire billboard in the metro area. (If that sounds shocking, it turns out billboards only cost around $5,000. And obviously, they draw a lot  of attention for that investment.) Most of the publicity, though, has been through social media. And to that end, Vaugn has been hard at work utilizing Instagram and Facebook on the official CAB account, at a rate of around five hours per week. 

This is far and away the most hectic event that has occurred at Gustavus since before the COVID pandemic, a considerable stylistic and organizational departure from the Nobel Conference or Christmas in Christ Chapel. Gustavus hasn’t hosted any major concert in a long time. (And they still need set-up volunteers, so any and all activities groups who might be  interested are welcome to sign up!) But in many ways, this will be one of the most communal gatherings Gustavus has recently experienced. So many people around Gustavus are excited about a campus event in a way that is rarely seen. The social media chatter alone shows some of the most fervent passion for a CAB event I’ve seen in my four years on the Hill.

If you want to see the end result, purchase your tickets to NLE Choppa at the Lund center on Friday night, April 19, at this link.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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