Julian E.J. Sorapuru
Campus Activities Board (CAB) announced Feb. 6 that they were able to secure R&B artist Jhené Aiko to headline Donaroo.
This announcement keeps with the trend of booking hip-hop or R&B acts for the event. In the past, USF has hosted artists such as Ty Dolla $ign, Aminé, Anderson .Paak, G-Eazy, Tinashe, and Macklemore for the annual concert. CAB is able to attract these performers to campus with the assistance of a San Francisco-based production company called BLAP Productions.
Despite the star power of past Donaroo performers, students seem to be even more excited about Aiko’s upcoming performance. Junior Enyolli Martinez said, “I think this is the first time I’ve actually gone to Donaroo because I’m excited about an artist.”
Aiko is indeed popular, with more than nine million followers on Instagram, a Grammy-nominated No. 1 song “The Worst,” and a host of Platinum plaques under her belt. Aiko has earned praise from music publications such as Billboard, Pitchfork, and MTV for her vocal range, catchy lyrics, and innovative R&B sound.
Sophomore Francisco Hidayat said, “I was pretty psyched,” when he found out Aiko was headlining Donaroo. “I’ve been listening to Jhené, since probably sophomore year [of high school],” he said. Aiko has not released an album since 2017’s “Trip,” however, there is no lack of excitement on campus surrounding her performance, as evidenced by half of the tickets selling out by the second day of sales. CAB is expecting upwards of 1,300 students to attend Donaroo this year.
Olivia Ison, president of CAB, said that because many USF students were still in high school when they first heard Aiko’s music, CAB tried to capitalize on the “nostalgic side” of her music. “I think [the nostalgia] is drawing a lot of people in. But also, we did have our eye on her because she is coming out again with a lot of new music and […] she’s definitely making a comeback. And we wanted to get that right on the time when it’s hitting,” said Ison.
Aiko hinted that she plans to drop a new album, titled “Chilombo,” in February 2020 at the end of a music video for her new single “OTW.” At the time of publication, the project has yet to be released, but USF students may be some of the first people to hear her new music performed live if the album is released prior to her performance on the last day of February.
Up-and-coming R&B artist Bren Joy and USF student Jasper “DJ Jaxx T” Tay will be opening for Aiko. Tay won the student DJ competition, which was held on Feb. 6 to determine who would open for the opener at Donaroo. Despite being a student, Tay is not short on professional experience; he performs a set every Saturday at the Valencia Room in the Mission. Tay also won last year’s DJ contest and, as a result, opened for Donaroo last year.
Speaking of Aiko’s disposition during the concert, Martinez said, “Hopefully she’s really raw because I feel like that’s what I get from her sometimes, which I appreciate, that she’s very raw and just unfiltered.”
Donaroo is on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. in War Memorial Gymnasium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. tickets are $10 online or $20 at the door.