Summer went out with a bang! With perfect weather and feel good vibes, Chicago was treated to a weekend full of fun and music courtesy of Academy and Grammy award winning artist Common with his Common Ground Foundation and Donda’s House, which is Rhymefest and Kanye West’s organization. This festival series is Common’s personal commitment to his hometown Chicago, a commitment to bring jobs, education, and inspiration to the city that gave him the strong roots he’s used to sustain an entertainment career for more than twenty years! Funding from the festival supports year-round programming for both the Common Ground Foundation and Donda’s House. Both organizations infuse creative arts into their mission to offer positive encouragement to youth and to provide safe outlets. This fundraising festival is made possible through sponsors: Allstate Insurance Company, the Black McDonald’s Operators of America, iHeart Media, Coors Light, Aramark, and DO312.
We were first treated to AAHH Fest, a Chicago community based festival originally formed in September 2014 that was hosted by comedian David Chapelle. Back then, he was absolutely hilarious and was followed by an impressive lineup. The festival ended with a surprise performance by Chicago’s own Kanye West.
This year’s AAHH Fest was a 2 day festival that kicked off on Saturday, September 24th with a Community Day! Hosted by Malik Yusef with Tink, and Taylor Bennett, with surprise performances by Vic Mensa, and Chance the Rapper, this was a special day for the youth and families of Chicago. The Community Day also offered a health and wellness zone, College & Careers zone, Art zone, and games. There was also an opportunity for local music artists to compete for a chance to perform the next day on the main stage with all-star talent. As I walked up to the festival, the look of excitement of our youth exiting the school buses truly brought a smile to my face and re-iterated what this event is all about.
Day two featured an all- star line-up including J. Cole, COMMON featuring Bilal, Ice Cube, The Roots, Vic Mensa, Jeremih, The Internet, Sir the Baptist and more. Comedian Deon Cole, Damon Williams and DJ Vince Adams kept the audience entertained in between the sets.
Chicago’s own Vic Mensa put on a truly powerful and moving performance when he performed his song “16 Shots” about Laquan McDonald, as he lied down on the floor of the stage for the remainder of the track and played the police radio account of the tragedy. The Roots rocked the stage but did we really expect anything less? NOPE!
Common’s performance was full of energy as he performed his rendition of “Black America” along with a few well known faves. Then outta nowhere Ice Cube appeared on stage and got the crowd even more hyped! Cube performed “Check Yourself” and “Today Was a Good Day”, Their combined energy was awesome to see, especially knowing that back in the day these two musical pioneers did not get along! I really wanted to hear maybe one or two more songs from Cube BUT the show must go on!
J. Cole closed out the show and despite a little bit of rain, the crowd did not move! They continued to jam until he completed his set.
It was a great show and I am definitely looking forward to next year’s AAHH fest!