On October 21, after a two-year hiatus, Howard University Homecoming Steering Committee resurged one of Howard’s greatest homecoming traditions-International Yardfest. The rebirth instilled enthusiasm and excitement from Howard students which erupted from performances of Common, Lil Uzi Vert, Faith Evans, Wale, Fabolous, and Will Tha Rapper.  

Due to crowd control issues, Yardfest banned live music from the scene leaving Big Sean as Yardfest’s last headliner in 2013. Undoubtedly, complaints and disapproval from Howard students overflowed.

2016 Howard graduate, Matthew Holmes shared his experience:

“The homecoming committee wanted us to understand the power of yardfest and its meaning to homecoming. I was aggravated but understood why it was taken away for a while.”

Senior, Safir Monroe, expressed his thoughts:

“I felt angry. Homecoming is supposed to be an event to have fun and having performers at Yardfest was the one aspect that was missing from it. I am happy that it was able to return for my senior year.”

Although Common and Evans’ career launched before the birth of most of Howard’s undergraduate population, both acts were accepted with uncontrollable energy. “I was actually surprised to perform at Howard. Initially, I thought my performance would be for alumni- assuming that the students wanted someone fresher and younger,” Evans said. “Overall I was honored and excited.”

Common performing "Black America Again" at International Yardfest
Common performing “Black America Again” at International Yardfest.

Common performed “Black America Again” allowing the audience to focus on social issues and challenges affecting the black community which to some students was labelled as “preaching.” A poignant moment occurred when he rapped, “I know that Black Lives Matter and they matter to us,” ensuring his consciousness of reality.  

I was actually surprised to perform at Howard. Initially, I thought my performance would be for alumni- assuming that the students wanted someone fresher and younger.

The heavy rainstorm did little to dampen the students’ spirit. Reactions from the sight of Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert confirmed this. His performance of “Money Longer”, “You Was Right” and “Ps & Qs exhilarated the crowd. Sophomores Bryce Ellen and Kaitlyn Whiting recounted their encounter with Lil Uzi Vert.

“Since I was near the front, I could hear the weight of the crowd behind me. As soon as Lil Uzi appeared, everybody started screaming and tried to bum-rush the stage,” said Ellen.

Whiting agreed, “Everyone went crazy when Uzi came out. Somebody’s drink wasted all over my white shirt and my friend dropped her phone and got stepped on and now it’s cracked.”

The five-hour free concert concluded with unexpected D.C. natives Wale and Will Tha Rapper. Although Wale’s set was no more than twenty minutes, his rendition of “Bad” had the crowd emotionally attached leading to an outbreak of chaos that transformed its way into a rhythm with “No Hands.”

Will Tha Rapper’s “Pull Up Hop Out,” according to sophomore Sherielle Henry, “had the crowd going from one to ten. Everyone was LIT. It was full of singing, dancing, and jumping.”

The reappearance of Yardfest left freshmen like Rebecca Johnson in awe:

“I was unaware of the two-year gap, but aside from the rain, it was amazing. The vibe was great, there wasn’t really much conflict. Wale and Lil Uzi Vert surprised me. It was like a real Coachella type thing. I loved it.”

Yardfest’s revival received positive reviews from current students and alumni via social media. Howard’s music festival was thoroughly enjoyed by all classifications eagerly waiting for the potential 2017 has.