This past weekend in Chicago was lit like a musical Christmas tree as two of the most anticipated music festivals took over the city —Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day Music Festival and Common’s AAHH Fest.
This was truly one to go into the record books as Generation X’ers and Millennials showed their love for hip hop royalty — Lonnie Rashid Lynn, known as “‘Common,” and the newly crowned Prince of Chicago, Chancellor ‘Chance’ Bennett.
On Saturday, AAHH Fest kicked off the 2-day music festival at Union Park with ‘Youth Day’ featuring R&B and Hip Hop recording artists Matt Muse, Sir the Baptist, Tink, Tyler the Creator and Jerimah, along with aspiring local artists. Curated by Donda’s House, the Grammy and Oscar award-winning Common joined the stage with fellow songwriters and friends, Malik Yusef the Wordsmyth and Che “Rhymefest” Smith.
Before he joined the stage at his own concert across town, Chance served AAHH with a surprise performance showing solidarity, as both men have a common goal to unite the city through the power of music.
With both the Coloring Day and AAHH Fest taking place the same weekend, it could’ve easily been construed as generational “tug of war” between the 23-year old rapper and 44-year old hip hop pioneer — both hailing from the South Side — with families, heavily connected in political circles. Since Chance’s debut on the scene with his critically acclaimed mixtape, 10 Day, in 2012, to his recent release, Coloring Day, he has been anything less than phenomenal.
Setting a record-breaking number of sold-out tickets since The Beatles played in 1965, the Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day Music Festival’s A-list line-up featured Young Thug, John Legend, Collegrove (Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz), Alicia Keys and Skrillex, including Francis and The Lights and Chance’s younger brother, Taylor Bennett, it was a sight to see the White Sox ball park filled with close to 43,000 attendees.
As people continued to arrive, the highlight of the show was Chicago native and superstar Kanye West, surprising concert goers and turning the energy from 7 all the way up to 10.5 with “Beautiful Morning.” All eyes were fixated on West as he officially rocked the stage — giving both attendees and those tuning on Tidal.com, where the entire concert streamed in real time.
Chance wasn’t just another artist putting together his ‘wish list’ of artists, he was making a statement. He is that connection joining both generations together on a socially conscious level. Sealing the deal, Common joined John Legend onstage for the Oscar-winning song, ‘Glory’ setting the stage for a celebrated day as viewers from around the world witnessed this historic show.
Each artist hitting the stage acknowledged the incredible turnout from Legend to the electric energy of Lil’ Wayne and 2 Chainz to the soulful, melodic voice of Alicia Keys.
It was a well-oiled and organized machine, and the VIP suites had some of Chicago’s political figures, filled with family and friends.
Proud parents Ken and Lisa Bennett were instrumental in bringing together an impressive group of powerbrokers, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Democratic Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Kim Foxx, former Gov. Pat Quinn and former State Sen. Emil Jones, along with a group of radio jocks and programmers flown in from around the country.
Hosted by comedian sensation Dave Chappelle, Common’s AAHH Fest kicked off in 2014 as a way to bring together both national and Chicago artists such as Jennifer Hudson, Twista and Kanye West to raise money for collaborative organizations.
Skipping 2015, organizers wanted to recharge the festival but had a late start securing the talent line-up because of scheduling conflicts. When the dates were announced this year in April, advance tickets went on sale on Groupon, selling close to 4,000 tickets without artist confirmations.
In August, Common Ground Foundation gradually began making announcements — keeping focused on community outreach. This year’s hosts, comedian/actor, Deon Cole (ABC’s “Blackish”) and funny man Damon Williams kept the run of Sunday’s show going as wonderful talent such as Internet, Jeremiah, The Roots, Ice Cube and J. Cole performed with awesome cameos by the multi-talented Common.
Not be upstaged by Kanye’s surprise appearance the day before —the pied piper of R&B — R. Kelly — joined Common onstage during his set, setting it off with his rendition of “The Light.”
There’s much to be learned from this weekend of back-to-back music festivals. Two Chicago natives, both successful Black men, inspired by strong family ties, acknowledging their power to move a generation in desperate times where AAHH + Magnificent = Elevated Unity.