Chicago has been in the headlines a lot lately for the constant violence, murders and all of the media induced negativity portrayed upon the city. That isn’t truly how the city of Chicago is represented though and Chicago grown native Common showed this on Sunday, Sept. 21st with his first annual AAHH! Fest, which was hosted by his Common Ground Foundation and fellow Chicago native Kanye West’s Donda’s House Inc.
The inaugural festival to close the summer out with something so diverse and positive to show “all love, all peace, all day” in a city that needs it right now, was a breath of fresh air. It proved that when done right, Chicago can host great festivals and events without violence, harm or incident. Everyone can have a good time and enjoy themselves.
On Sunday afternoon at Chicago’s Union Park, this was definitely the case, as artist, actor and philanthropist, Common helped put on the best show I have been to so far in my short 28 1/2 plus years, with the diverse lineup he had perform throughout the afternoon and into the late evening of current great emcees like Jay Electronica, mixed with Hip-Hop legends like MC Lyte, De La Soul and fellow Chicago natives Jennifer Hudson and Lupe Fiasco, as well as fellow Chicago native and Hip-Hop legend Twista, and a not-so-secret surprise guest that everyone was hoping and thinking would be a fellow Chicago native and legend.
Most fans where right too…as Chicago’s homegrown hero Kanye West was the not-so-surprise guest that Common brought out during his second set of the night and introduced with West coming out to one of his very first hits ever, “Jesus Walks,” which was also co-written by fellow Chicago rapper,activist and philanthropist Rhymesfest (also one of the co-founders of West’s Donda’s House).
West along with Common was the main attraction of the night, as he went for a nearly 45-minute set to close out the show going through several of his hits, which included “Power,” “Gold Digger,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Blood on the Leaves,” his GOOD Music Remix of Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like,” and “Homecoming,” before closing out with “Get Em’ High (where he was joined by Common and Fest for part of the performance as hypemen).”
Kanye’s performance was definitely the icing on the cake of an inaugural mostly Chicago based festival that went very well and had Chicago performers like Lupe with his “Go-Go Gadget Flow” track during his set and Twista with his “Gucci, Louis, Prada” track during his set show off their double-time flows and what is a big part of Chicago Hip-Hop. Which was what a lot of the festival was trying to celebrate was Chicago and it’s historic Hip-Hop community/history.
There was several other memorable moments throughout the night like the great DJ sets of mostly classic 90’s Hip-Hop and R&B put on by DJ Timbuck2, DJ Wayne Williams (founder of the Chosen Few DJs and it’s annual Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic, which happens every summer in Chicago and is one of the biggest House events in the world each year) and Vince Adams during their sets. MC Lyte despite a surprise WTF surprise moment of bringing out Lil’ Mama during her set, put on a pretty solid set of her mostly classics, as well as De La (who even at one point called out photographers to just put their cameras down and put their hands up to enjoy the show instead of working). Even slightly joking that they wouldn’t go on if they didn’t.
Comedian Dave Chappelle, who was the special Master of Ceremonies before the main Chicago performances to close out the night, put on a solid and funny ten-minute stand-up performance that had me and most of the crowd laughing throughout at how hilarious it was. Common showed during his set once again why when he wants to be he’s still one of the best performers in all of Hip-Hop on stage. Common even brought out Vinces Staples and Jay Electronica for the remix of his recent album, Nobody’s Smiling, single, “Kingdom.” The only transgression I really had with the show was many of the sets were too short, with Twista only playing three songs during his set and Lupe’s mic being cut off during his set, which was abruptly ended because it was said to have gone over his allowed time to perform.
Overall it was a good show/festival that ended the summer off on a very high note and West definitely stole with his tremendous historic performance, which will be remembered for years to come because of how effortlessly he went through his performance without any rants or incidents and while smiling, soaking in the moment to enjoy the show as much as me and the rest of his hometown fans did. How festival organizers Common and Rhymefest stood back and watched to take in this historic moment for not only Chicago Hip-Hop, but the city of Chicago during West’s performance of “Clique” definitely showed that this is an event that will definitely be going on for years to come and everyone in Chicago and beyond will want to get involved in.