Star acts tap guest stars at Coachella

LOS ANGELES • Eminem and Cardi B may be at different stages of their careers, but the two rappers have one strategy in common - when playing at Coachella, go big.

And that is why fans - who missed out on the first edition from last Friday to Sunday - are eagerly awaiting the duo's performances in the second round this weekend, as the premier music festival presents an identical line-up.

Both Eminem and Cardi B, whose first album just opened at No. 1 on the United States charts, kept a dizzying pace on Sunday with a stream of surprise guests.

Eminem offered a disconcerting trip to 8 Mile - a stage replica of his blighted hometown Detroit, cast in an even harsher light through special effects of rain and then arson.

He brought out 50 Cent, joining in the New York rapper's birthday anthem In Da Club (2003), before the crowd erupted on sight of the elusive Dr Dre, Eminem's mentor.

Dr Dre, the gangsta rapper-turned-Apple executive who is worth close to US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion), appeared in the Silicon Valley chic look of a black turtleneck.

He united with Eminem for several classic tracks, including late legend Tupac Shakur's California Love (1996).

Coachella marks one of the first concerts for Eminem, 45, since the release last year of his album Revival after a four-year hiatus.

He is by far the most successful white rapper of all time and found a new political voice on the album as he lashed out at United States President Donald Trump, although Revival mostly received poor reviews on its musical merits.

Eminem confronted the criticism as late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel came to Coachella by video for a special edition of his televised segment on celebrities, reading "mean tweets". Faced with a tweet that said "no one's (sic) has been paying attention to you since 2003", Eminem said: "I'm not mad at that. He's kind of got a point."

Cardi B was one of the most avidly awaited performers at Coachella, not only because she is rising quickly in hip-hop, but also because the 25-year-old, engaged to fellow rapper Offset of Migos, recently revealed that she is pregnant.

Despite her visible baby bump, she briefly squatted to twerk to the beat, comfortably getting back up to finish her dance moves.

The Bronx native quickly found stardom with unsentimental rhymes about her life, including a stint earning a living by stripping.

She saluted her former profession in her tight, half-hour set as dancers stretched acrobatically on strippers' poles. She also brought out her own celebrity guests, including Chance the Rapper.

After the hard edges of her breakthrough song Bodak Yellow (2017), she has shown greater musical versatility. Her debut album, Invasion Of Privacy, brought in energetic, street festival-style horns on the track, I Like It, which she performed live at Coachella.

She has also demonstrated striking candour about the finances of playing at Coachella - arguably the most watched festival in the world, especially this year, with Glastonbury in Britain on a scheduled break.

She told satellite radio SiriusXM that she spent US$300,000 of her own money to develop a worthy set for Coachella, where she will earn only US$140,000.

That sum - presumably reached before her recent meteoric ascent - also includes a performance this weekend. But fans can bet on getting their money's worth.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'Star acts tap guest stars at Coachella'. Print Edition | Subscribe