Tyga, a 23-year-old rapper from Compton, Calif., has released a few songs about love. But he is best known for “Rack City,” a mega-hit that has been called “a strip club anthem.” Some of his lesser-known tracks are so mindlessly celebratory of the exploitation of women that the lyrics read like a parody of the hip-hop genre. In many ways, Tyga represents the worst of what rap has to offer. It is unfortunate that a committee of Harvard students chose him as headliner of this year’s Yardfest, the campus spring festival. But now that he’s coming, the best choice is to let the show go on, while using the attendant boycotts and protests as a way to raise objections to his sexist lyrics; otherwise, Yardfest revelers are old enough to make their own decisions about popular music.
Students who have been planning the event for a year say they chose Tyga because he was the most famous performer they could afford on their budget of about $40,000. If that’s the case, other universities seem to have made the same calculation. Last month, Tyga performed at the University of California at Riverside’s “Heat” music festival, to thousands of screaming fans. He is due to play at the University of Pennsylvania’s “Spring Fling” a week before his scheduled April 18 performance in Harvard Yard. At Penn, a few students have protested his lyrics. But at Harvard, a widely circulated online petition demands that the invitation be rescinded.