Jul. 24—Standing on a foam pad held up by the crowd, Twin Cities hip-hop artist Prof had more than 2,500 people jumping and screaming to the lyrics of his opening song before he climbed back onto the stage at Graham Park.
Not much changed the rest of his performance, as a loyal and dedicated fanbase showed out and kept the energy high during Prof's third-ever performance in Rochester.
The concert was one Stationary Astronaut promoter Nikolai Zeppa, also known as Nicholas McLaughlin, was hoping for as people congratulated him during Prof's performance for putting Friday's concert together.
"Man, we're so lucky, honestly," Zeppa said. "It was a real blessing that came to fruition for us to even be able to be here."
Whether the night was going to come together, however, came down to a vote from the Olmsted County Fair Board on June 3, 2021, due to concerns from community members in Southeast Minnesota and the Twin Cities.
The concerns came over Prof's misogynistic lyrics, and tweets from 2012. The tweets included glorifying having sex with young girls, raping and stalking women, and committing violence against women. When those tweets surfaced last summer, Prof's record label, Rhymesayers, dropped him.
The fair board held a special meeting to discuss the issue, and decided late that night to go forward with the concert.
Rochester social media promotor and sexual assault survivor Rosei Skipper was one of the first people to express concern about Prof's booking. She said in a Facebook post that she felt a conversation needed to take place about it.
"I had never requested that the show be canceled, or even suggested that canceling the event would be the correct path forward," she said in the post. "What I object to is the implication that even having discussions about the nature of the booking, which artists we hire and how those decisions are made won't be tolerated, nor requests for increased transparency and community feedback."
Prof fans such as Joe Lemke, of Dayton, Ohio, believe this version of Prof shouldn't be taken literally.
"I think most of the things Prof tweets out are facetious and kind of more for the character, so I don't think they should be taken serious," said Lemke, who's traveled around the country the past eight years going to Prof concerts, and attended Friday's concert.
Zeppa said he never considered changing the booking despite the concerns raised in Rochester or the record label's action last summer.
"I knew from the ground level why they had to do it, because we live in a culture that likes to cancel right now," he said. "So they were saving face. And they did what they had to do.. He got dropped because of the old tweets. They were basically just being proactive, and you can't fault them."
And because there were no allegations, Zeppa feels the concerns over the Prof booking were unwarranted and could have negatively impacted small businesses working with the concert. In a 10-minute Facebook video he posted, Zeppa responded to these concerns, but felt he overreacted and later took the video down.
"Could I have reacted to the drama better? Absolutely," he said.
Still, he saw a bigger picture for the Prof situation.
Canceling the show would have meant "taking food out of so many people's mouths, people who have been starving over the last year in the world of entertainment, who needed this," Zeppa said. "So man, I'm just glad we got to get through that gauntlet."