AAHH! Fest 2016 brought people from all sides of Chicago together in celebration at Union Park over the weekend of Sept. 23.
The two-day festival gave local artists an opportunity to perform on the main stage for the event’s Community Day” on Saturday, Sept. 24 and the headline acts, such as J. Cole, Common, The Roots, Ice Cube and Jeremih, among others, performed the following day. In addition to the music, event attendees were greeted with food trucks, live art creations, family friendly games/activities, educational booths and more.
The festival returned after a one-year hiatus following its successful 2014 debut. Chicago native rapper/actor Common, who presented the event through a collaborative effort with his non-profit organization, Common Ground Foundation, was eager to bring his vision back to the city after telling Chicago Magazine in 2015 he wanted to “wait and do it right,” for the next AAHH! Fest.
“I’m excited to bring this expression of love back to Chicago,” said Common. “Music brings us together and allows us to celebrate all that is great about our City, the people, and culture.”
During his various times on the stage, Common encouraged festival attendees to be proactive in changing their neighborhoods and the city as a whole and to vote in the upcoming November election. The Academy Award winner stressed the community should not have to wait on individuals, government agencies or organizations to make a positive impact on Chicago.
The Common Ground Foundation partnered with Donda’s House and Juan & Only Events to produce AAHH! Fest 2016. According to its website, CGF works to provide youth a sense of hope, self-esteem, and love that will help them embitter the world. CGF youth were given front row access to the performances on Community Day. A few youths met Common at the media tent for pictures and autographs.
“AAHH! FEST by Common is more than a musical festival, it’s Common’s personal commitment to his hometown, Chicago, to bring jobs, education and inspiration to the city that gave him the strong roots he has used to sustain an entertainment career for more than 20 years,” said Think Common Entertainment COO and Festival General Manager, Tamara Brown.
Donda’s House played an integral role in selecting the local talent who took to the AAHH! Fest stage. Over seven local performers rocked the AAHH! Fest stage. Founded by Grammy Award-winning rappers Kanye West and Che “Rhymefest” Smith, Donda’s House provides access to premiere arts instruction from working professionals to youth. DH’s own Matt Muse was selected out of over 90 applicants to perform on the AAHH! Fest stage on the second day.
“Donda’s House is proud to partner with the Common Ground Foundation to support AAHH! Fest 2016 and give back to the city we love,” said Donnie Smith, Executive Director of Donda’s House. “While it’s easy to put out the negativity that has affected Chicago, we sometimes forget to celebrate the amazing people that make this place a world-class city. AAHH! Fest is back to simply remind the world why Chicago is phenomenal.”
The AAHH! Fest was not without its surprises. On Community Day, Chicago native superstar rapper Chance the Rapper made a surprise appearance and performed a number of songs, including his latest chart-topping hit “No Problem.” Chance would later that day perform at his own day-long music festival “Magnificent Coloring Day” at U.S. Cellular Field. The following day, R&B/Soul singer R. Kelly made a surprise appearance where performed an abbreviated version of his hit song “Step In The Name of Love” to a mixed crowd response.