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Review: 14 Moments That Made Us Scream At AAHH! Fest in Chicago

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Common hosts AAHH! Fest"It's a breath of fresh air for everyone in Chicago. They always talk about the violence, but we about having a good-ass time." —Common

Yesterday (Sept. 21) thousands of Chicagoans and some out-of-towners gathered around Union Park for the first-ever AAHH! Fest.

Southside native Common and his Commonground charity joined forces with Donda's House and The Lupe Fiasco Foundation to put together the largely hip-hop—with a taste of R&B—music festival.

With its legendary lineup, range of surprise acts, and overall damn good music, many a hip-hop fan couldn't help but breathe an aahh! of relief on this day about peace, in a city maimed by violence.

As Chance the Rapper (who bought 50 tickets to the festival, only to give them away to fellow Chicagoans who hadn't gotten theirs yet) tweeted, it was a "great day to be from Chicago." Flip through to discover our 14 favorite moments from the fest. —Shannon Powell (@shannonmichele_)

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com Diggy Simmons at AAHH! Fest1. Diggy Simmons Proves He's Got The Juice

Never have I ever been in the presence of so many prepubescent girls turned hip-hop lovers. As I almost got trampled when these hundreds of teeny weenies tried to get to Rev Run's cutie-pie son, it hit me that many were rapping every single word to each of his songs. Who's house? Diggy's house!

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com Rhymefest in Chicago2. Rhymefest Got Jokes

As Rhymefest hosted the daytime show of community acts showcasing their talents, it was clear that he got jokes. At one point, a very colorful duo of a South and a West side rapper hit the stage, and it didn't take long for Rhyme to distinguish who was from which side. He joked that the young man "looking like a citrus in his bright green," had to be from out west. "I know what a pimp looks like and that's from the West side," the South side native teased. Rhymefest went from snapping on performers to snapping a freestyle with Common, keeping the crowd charged up.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com Chiraq3. Chicago Might Just Be "Chiraq" for Murdering the Competition

As violence plagues the city of wind, some Chicagoans have coined the term "Chiraq" as a way to compare the devastation around the city to that of Iraq. Many have dismissed the name as a one-dimensional representation of Chicago, arguing that there's much more to the Chi. With movements like Save Chicago growing in prevalence, so too has an anti-Chiraq attitude. However, as Lil herb spit his beastly verse to his hit "Chiraq" ft. Nicki Minaj," I began to think that if anything, Chi rappers can for damn sure murder a track.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com SZA comes to Chicago4. SZA Couldn't Say No to Common

As fans stood in the crowd waiting for each act to transition in and out, I noticed a few glancing at the lineup on their phones to keep tabs. However, if one thing was clear about AAHH! Fest, it was that no surprise is unimaginable. One early example of spontaneity was the last minute add-on of TDE recording artist SZA.

"I love Common, Common's the homie," she said of the actor/rapper/master of ceremonies. "I know a lot of people didn't know I was coming but Common just called me up, and who says no to Common?" Good question. Yeah, no one.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com J. Dilla is missed5. J. Dilla Makes A Cameo From Beyond

"We Dilla Babies. J. Dilla saved my life. J. Dilla changed my life," Jay Electronica stressed to the audience midway through his performance. The New Orleans native was all about crowd participation, at one point even sitting on top of a fan's shoulders while completely immersed in the general admission section. After rapping a few more of his songs, he asked the audience to "make as much noise as we can, as loud as we can for the late J.Dilla." I would soon discover that others are too greatly missing the master producer, as at least two more acts gave a Dilla shoutout.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com MC Lyte in Chicago6. MC Lyte Proves Women's U.N.I.T.Y. Is Still Strong

In an era of big-booty, bad-bitch rappers, it's easy to lose sight of where it all started. With chart toppers like Nicki and Iggy, we sometimes forget to pay homage to the legends who paved the way. With her rock solid (and light as a rock) performance, MC Lyte reminded the festival goers that girls run shit too.

After performing a few of her women-empowering classics, colored by verses describing men in as raunchy a way as many do women (see: "Ruff Neck" and "I Wanna Be Down"), Lyte, along with the audience, recited a list of some of the ladies of rap—Eve, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, and Salt-N-Pepa, just to name a few.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com Lil Mama makes for a big surprise guest7. Lil Mama Shows That No Surprise is Too Big (or Small) for AAHH! Fest

As MC Lyte showed love to some of the legendary women of hip-hop, she brought out a fellow New York native to share the stage. With a quick, word-packed freestyle, Lil Mama showed the audience that big presences sometimes come in small packages.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com De La Soul8. De La Soul Give Zero Fucks, Just Wants To Party

Similar to Jay Elec, De La Soul was all about audience participation. So much so, that at one point, they asked all journalists in the pit to put their cameras down and "party" with the rest of the audience. After several pauses in their performance, waiting for every camera to be face down, they called out a young lady who didn't seem to want to follow the rules. By the time she stubbornly put her camera away, De La Soul tried to get her to "put just one finger in the air," to which she (not surprisingly) refused. Unfazed, they concluded, "aight fuck it, let's party without her!" And so they partied.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com J-Hud brings it9. You Can't Escape the Goosebumps Listening to Jennifer Hudson Live

"It's an honor to see all of Chicago together on one accord," Jennifer Hudson described in the middle of her set. "We want the rest of the world to know we're beautiful." Beautiful indeed. The baddie with a body looked stunning on stage as she sung some of her classics, closing out with her obligatory jaw-dropping-no-matter-how-many-times-you-hear-it rendition of "And I am Telling You." To the girl in front of me laughing with her friend about how she got goosebumps from hearing it, we all did boo. We all did.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com Dave Chappelle in Chicago10. Dave Chappelle Reminds Us It's a Night to Feel Honored

After Dave Chappelle came out joking about dick pics, weed, refusing to buy cigarettes marketed toward black people, and being "almost rich, bitch" in true Chappelle fashion, he took a moment to appreciate being a part of the festival.

"Tonight is gonna be a night that's going to be remembered for years to come," he said. "I'm honored to be here in this time of turmoil."

But if the fellow audience members felt any bit like I did, then they realized that we should have been honored to be in his presence, because as he joked, we "might not see [him] for another 10 years." The coolest part of it all, though, was him re-reciting, almost word-for-word, the introduction to Common and Kanye West's "The Food" from his classic Chappelle's Show episode (which appears intact on Com's Be album). "Tonight's musical guest, one of Chicago's finest emcees..." Of course, he said one, instead of two this time, because Common had yet to reveal the biggest surprise of the night. #nospoilers

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com Lupe Fiasco11. Lupe Gets Shut Down

After a lineup with mostly South siders, it was a relief for West side natives to see their hero, Lupe, step up to the stage in a way that only he could and spit the truth. For Lupe, it's always been about the "city in the Midwest, best city in the whole wide wide world," and it was no different at AAHH! Fest. As he rapped some of his classics like "Go-Go Gadget," and "Kick Push," along with some of his newer tunes, like his latest, "Next to It" featuring Ty Dolla $ign, his time quickly ran out. In the middle of introducing a track that he said was strictly Chi, with a Chi rapper, a Chi vocalist and recorded in the Chi, he was informed that his time was up and he needed to leave the stage. But Lupe didn't leave without a fight. (Would he be Lupe if he did?) He stayed onstage until his lights and mic were cut off, which led to an outpour of "boos" from an enraged audience. We still love you, Lupe!

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com Common on the nostalgia tip12. Common Still Loves H.E.R.

As he hit the stage for the second time, Common took us back. Ripping through all of the classics from "I Used to Love H.E.R." to "The Light," Comm used Erykah Badu's vocals from "Love of My Life," as she sang "way back," to transition through his old school joints. He then moved his way to some of his more recent tracks from his latest album, Nobody's Smiling, including his "Kingdom" remix, for which he brought out a newbie to the game, Vince Staples along with Jay Electronica. It was pretty dope to see the different rap generations united on one stage, for one track.

Photo credit: Kory Powell for VIBE.com Kanye West13. Kanye West Doesn't Like His Photo Taken

No shit, right? But apparently this isn't just a beef with the paparazzi. As Twista put on a stellar performance of some of his Do or Die classics, along with his hits like "Overnight Celebrity," he proved to be yet another act that made Chicago proud. Unfortunately though, right before he hit the stage, all journalists were asked to leave the pit. We would later find out that it was because Kanye would soon hit the stage, and Yeezy don't play that. In the meantime, it was equally dope to admire that rocket-fast rhymer that is Twista spit hit after hit from the big screen.

Photo via @potentvision on Instagram Kanye rips it14. Yeezus is a God of the Chi

If you had any doubt in your mind that Kanye is one of the greatest musicians to come out of the Chi (he's neck-and-neck with Kellz) last night should have been proof enough. There had been speculation that Yeezy was the "very special surprise guest" advertised on AAHH! Fest flyers, and Tweets like Taraji P. Henson's only added to that speculation. The day before the festival, the actress took to her Twitter account to drop the following no-so-subliminal bomb:

"Aye yo Chicago!!! See you at AAHH! Fest by @Common this Sunday #aahhfest #common. Kan ye guess who the special guest performance is?! Hehehe."

Thank you Taraji, for being spot-on, and prepping me mentally for what we were all about experience.

As most would expect of a Kanye performance in Chicago, the audience went absolutely bananas when they discovered that Yeezus was in fact the surprise performer. He mentioned that Common told him he only needed to do three songs, but it was only right for him to go through most of his classics at his homecoming. From "Jesus Walks," to "Power," to "Don't Like," and everything in between, Ye did it all and showed so much love to the city.

It was a beautiful sight to see so many Chicagoans joined together in the name of peace and music. Common put it best when he described, "Chi-Town, we the greatest." The greatest indeed.

Photo via @CortneyHall's Twitter

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