In honor of Howard University’s long-awaited 2021 homecoming week, TIDAL released “Check The Rhyme: Howard University”– a playlist dedicated to Howard’s influence on hip-hop culture. This makes Howard the first university to be featured by the streaming service, the first school was Morehouse College .
The playlist is composed of many familiar songs, most of which make mention of Howard’s Homecoming in some capacity within their lyrics. From Drake’s “Make Me Proud,” to The Notorious B.I.G. ‘s “Kick In The Door,” the “Check The Rhyme: Howard University” playlist is a testament to Howard’s historical impact on the state of hip-hop.
The shoutouts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the significance of Howard University’s homecoming. Artists do not just write about Howard Homecoming, they anticipate and attend the events, and are inspired by the university’s contribution to hip-hop culture. Year after year, Howard makes hip-hop history.
In 1995, Bad Boy made their way to Yardfest, and Howard Homecoming saw appearances by Foxy Brown, alumnus Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the now-late Notorious B.I.G and Biz Markie.
During Diddy’s commencement speech after receiving his honorary degree from Howard, he told the class of 2014, “Ain’t no homecoming like a Howard Homecoming, and it feels so good to be home.”
At the turn of the century, Jay-Z paid a visit to Yardfest, accompanied by Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel, to perform classics like “Big Pimpin”, and “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” the year of their release. The next year Foxy Brown returned, this time with Capone, Noreaga, Fabulous and the late rapper DMX.
In more recent years Howard has continued to host legendary Yardfest performances. Even current Howard students are familiar with stories of Drake, donning a Howard crewneck, making a surprise appearance alongside 2 Chainz in 2012.
During the most recent in-person homecoming in 2019, “Icy” rapper Saweetie, Juvenile and Kanye West performed throughout the week.
While well-established artists tend to grace Howard’s Homecoming it is not unusual to see musical careers blossom after Yardfest appearances.
Before being signed to their record label, hip-hip trio Travis Porter performed on the Yardfest stage in 2010, only to return the next year and perform their popular song “Bring it Back” during the annual homecoming step show.
Due to the cancelation of some of Howard Homecoming’s most popular in-person events such as the tailgate and Yardfest to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the impact that homecoming has had on both campus culture and hip-hop culture is even more evident. To many Howard students, Yardfest and the tailgate are integral parts of the homecoming experience, and their cancellation is disheartening.
According to TIDAL’s description of the playlist, “Howard is known worldwide for the contributions to society its notable alumni have made over the ages. Yet, in Hip-Hop, one thing definitely stands out: Howard Homecoming.”
The playlist may serve as a reminder that Howard Homecoming culture remains illustrious, despite these cancellations.
The homecoming football game against the Norfolk State Spartans is still scheduled to take place on Oct. 23, and Howard has promised to “remain focused planning exciting and informative hybrid events that will celebrate our students and alumni.”