The adage goes that there are two ways to skin a cat. In the case of Coachella, there are two ways to kill the stage. There was no #Beychella this year at the Indio, California-based music festival, but the bill was still loaded with talented acts looking to entertain the thousands in attendance. Few shone brighter than Ariana Grande and Donald Glover, a pair of headlining acts who gave divergent displays which paid homage to hip-hop’s past and its future.
Ariana invited rap legends like Diddy, Mase, and Nicki Minaj onstage for an extravaganza fit for her burgeoning role as a queen of pop while Donald stood solitary, staking claim to his own status as a legend with a winding set that he opted to make as intimate as possible in a sea of thousands of concertgoers. There are no explicitly right or wrong answers in art, and both artists made the best choices for them and made a range of statements, purposefully or not, with their performances.
Ariana could have had a successful set off of her extensive catalog alone, but she decided to embrace nostalgia by bringing a slew of beloved acts on her stage. She invited pop group NSYNC (sans Justin Timberlake), much to the excitement of fans who remember their Billboard and TRL-dominating heyday. But the most interesting guest spots during her performance were Nicki Minaj as well as Diddy and Mase. Ariana interpolated Biggie, Diddy and Mase’s “Mo Money Mo Problems” on her 2014 “Break Your Heart Right Back” track with Donald Glover.
On the surface, the performance gave Diddy the chance to be the showstopper that he’s always been in a year where he may want to feel the love more than normal. But what’s more important is that Ariana used her moment to pay homage to the source of one of her most enjoyed singles.