Waa-Mu Fashion Show featuring live debut of Chet Haze at Northwestern University: Live review and photos
Northwestern: they’ve gone rogue! It seems the good ole’ Wildcats have decided to finally eschew their hard-earned rep as the Big 10’s sleepiest school and spice up the brand a bit – namely by hollering loudly about beejays (in public), and
Oh, and introducing the world to the greatest thing to happen to rap since, well, Asher Roth: Chet Haze, a.k.a. Chester Hanks, son of Tom Hanks and well-known blunt enthusiast. Last night at NU, he made his debut live performance, and we were there, almost as excited to Get Hazed as he was.
Chet performed at NU’s first annual Waa Mu Fashion Show, lending his name to the bill to help raise support for Waa Mu: What’s Next?, the university’s 80th annual student-produced musical. Allie Brodsky, a junior studying theater, and Jake Perlman, a sophomore studying communications, co-created the show and were able to secure freshman Zoe Damacela, another rising Northwestern star, as the show’s designer. As a precocious high-school fashionista, Damacela appeared on the Tyra Banks Show, spoke at the White House and earned a one-on-one meeting with President Obama after Oprah Winfrey lauded her as a young designer and entrepreneur.
Ten dresses were shown, and each one struck a happy medium between couture and, well, something a girl could actually wear. No question about it—this young woman has a future in fashion. Members from various NU sororities modeled the pieces, and the show generously donated 15% of their proceeds to the Greek chapter with the most attendees.
That distinction could have very well gone to Pike, Chet’s fraternity, whose brothers could be heard hollering from the back of the room as their boy Haze “absolutely murdered tracks” on stage.
So, how’d he do?
It was his first live gig ever—other than an impromptu performance last weekend at a campus event called Out Da Box—and despite the lack of experience, the man has already lined up SXSW showcase performances (approximately seven of them) and (I'm told) a spot opening for Soulja Boy at ASU. As rappers go, he’s extremely green—his first mixtape dropped a mere 16 days before this show. And the immense Internet-backlash he’s seen since has made him something of a rising star and a joke, simultaneously. That being said, he didn’t bomb, and the somewhat skeptical crowd seemed entertained.
However, he didn’t exactly set the roof on fire, either. A couple lines were missed, his lyrics are still, y’know, short of brilliant (“Step to me/get beat down like Rodney King”) and parts of the performance fell flat. The audience mostly chair-danced and squealed along with the lyrics they knew. Then again, what more can you expect at a fashion show? He performed 3 tracks, kicking it off with “Ain’t Too High,” followed by his most famous track thus far, “White and Purple” (which controversially shares its name, beat, flow and general idea with Moe Green’s earlier, similarly-titled track) and appropriately ended with “Adios Motherfucker.”
Last night's show was strange, seeing something you only know through the muddy glasses of Internet vitriol live, in the flesh. (And if there’s one thing we can associate with Chet so far, it’s Internet vitriol.) One kind of expected booing (there was none,) as if all those thumbs-down votes on his YouTube videos could come to life and find him here. But the Internet exists in wires and Chet exists in real life, hanging in the precarious limbo between legitimate artist and self-parodying meme. He’s struggling to show authenticity while treading the choppy waters of hive mind hostility. Yet, he’s no joke. His ample knowledge of hip-hop confirms as much, and if he weren’t in it to win it, wouldn’t he have quit by now, having already been burnt to a near crisp?
His rapping is sub-par lyrically and his delivery needs work. Chet Haze, purely taken as a rapper, isn’t very interesting. What will be interesting is seeing where Chet Haze, as a rapper, ends up in a year or two: Will he be forgotten or notorious? After all, there have been unlikelier success stories than his, and if he manages to survive his experience in the Internet meat grinder, find a little self-awareness and become something bigger than a temporary meme, it could be the most interesting act of his short career thus far.
He’s Chet Haze, and he’s out there climbing Everest, folks. Won’t you send a prayer?
Northwestern University’s 80th annual Waa Mu musical is titled “What’s Next?” and takes place April 29th-May 8th at Evanston’s Cahn Auditorium.