Ex's stage left: why post-breakup apologies at gigs need to stop

From Offset interrupting Cardi B’s show to Birdman ambushing Toni Braxton, could male artists please keep their gestures private?

At a gig, there is only one thing worse than an artist playing “something from the new album” – a surprise special guest. Worse still is one that’s a surprise even to the performer, AKA the worrying new trend of men making a public apology in the middle of their other half’s live concert. The video of Offset – who got dumped by wife Cardi B after she allegedly caught him cheating – invading the stage during her Rolling Loud festival set is worth watching just for the look of sheer disgust on her face.

Still, that didn’t put Cash Money boss Birdman off ruining his ex-fiancee Toni Braxton’s Atlanta concert last month by pulling a slightly-less-prepared version of the same stunt. Interrupted halfway through her final song by Birdman sheepishly ambling out of the wings, Toni took the stage invasion better than Cardi, in that she hugged him, then dragged him off the stage by his hand, throwing him a “we’ll talk about this later” look on the way.

Weirdly, both couples are back together now, so public apologies clearly work – that, or Cardi and Toni just want to make it through a gig without their other halves trying to steal the spotlight – and this is the easiest way. It is unclear if these men are so stupid they don’t see anything wrong with ruining their ex’s concerts (the crowd actually boo in the Offset video, and he has since said he didn’t “give a damn” about the criticism, claiming he’d do “whatever it takes”). Or is it just a natural extension of living on social media? The “saying sorry by posting a screengrab of the Notes app on Instagram” method, but IRL!

It is oddly performative, and counterintuitive to do something so publicly when it would be more meaningful in private. It’s unconvincing, like when men make birthday photo collages of their girlfriends and post them on social media with an OTT caption. It doesn’t make you think that they’re head over heels in love; rather it’s a huge red flag that they’ve been caught exchanging flirty texts with the girl who sits next to them at work and now have to pay a weird Facebook-based penance.

It isn’t just apologies that go wrong. Rihanna says her friendship with Drake ended after he hijacked her moment at the MTV VMAs in 2016. He introduced her as “the girl I’ve been in love with since I was 22” and tried to kiss her as she accepted the award. Two years later, she said his comments made her “uncomfortable”, probably because to turn around and tell him to piss off would make her look heartless. There is, though, a right way to do a public apology. Jay-Z’s 4:44 was basically one giant “I’m sorry” to Beyoncé; then he had the good grace to sound rubbish next to her on The Carters album. Men of hip-hop: please take note. Jay-Z finally got something right. Please stay off the stage.


Issy Sampson

The GuardianTramp

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