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HOMECOMING

Back In Action: The 2021 Homecoming Yardfest

Howard Homecoming returned for the 2021 school year with in person and hybrid events for students, including the infamous Yardfest.

Swae Lee engaging with the crowd, courtesy of Jon Musselwhite, Hilltop Photographer

Howard Homecoming returned for the 2021 school year with in person and hybrid events for students and alum, including the infamous Yardfest concert. The show was redesigned this year to be exclusive to current Howard students and follow safe COVID-19 guidelines.

This year’s Yardfest was unlike any other. Instead of the large stage setup in front of Founder’s Library, the concert was moved to Cramton Auditorium and held Friday night.

Yardfest is a special event the Howard University community looks forward to every homecoming season. Between the outfits and anticipation of knowing who will touch the stage, Yardfest is a nostalgic event in which generations of Bison get to mingle and enjoy popular music.

Unfortunately, the many alum that traveled to D.C. this weekend were unable to attend the concert this year. The protocol for the Yardfest show, and all other in person homecoming events, was that only current Howard students were able to enter the show, no alumni or visitors.

The students who did attend woke up bright and early Friday morning to wait in line for a free ticket at the Cramton box office. 

Howard students in line for Yardfest tickets Friday morning, courtesy of Jon Musselwhite, Hilltop Photographer

William Waters, a junior organizational communications major, was one of the many students who sacrificed a few extra hours of sleep to ensure he got a ticket to the show. 

“This year’s homecoming was definitely one to remember. It began Friday when I got in line to wait for Yardfest tickets at 8:30 in the morning, an hour and a half before doors opened. Despite my early arrival, I was still unable to secure my tickets in a timely manner due to the countless students that were cutting the line, jumping the fence, and pushing their way through to the front. Overall, I was a bit aggravated by the lack of courtesy demonstrated by my fellow students, but I was glad that I was able to secure my ticket to the performance.”

Later that evening around 7p.m., the doors to Cramton opened and the eager students were let inside to find seats. 

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DJ Envy warming up the stage, courtesy of Jon Musselwhite, Hilltop Photographer

Radio personality DJ Envy was the host of the night, and got the crowd out of their seats before the other celebrity guests touched the stage. 

The first performer of the night was Mooski, a rapper from Alabama. He performed several songs including his platinum single “Track Star” and “Zodiac Killer.” 

Mooski performs “Trackstar” for students, courtesy of Jon Musselwhite, Hilltop Photographer

The next artist to take the stage was Dreamdoll, a rapper and reality show star from the Bronx. Her performances included “Ah Ah Ah” and “Different.” 

Dreamdoll rapping to fans in the crowd, courtesy of Jon Musselwhite, Hilltop Photographer

The Hilltop staff was able to speak with Dreamdoll backstage, which can be viewed here.

Despite an overall entertaining night, the modifications to the event were not pleasing to everyone. The confinement of being inside Cramton versus the open space of the Yard made it difficult to feel like this was the night students anticipated attending for over two years.

Chandler Bursey-Reese, a junior computer science major at Howard, expressed slight upset with this year’s concert.

“Yardfest was definitely a more interesting experience this year. I never would have imagined it to be hosted in Cramton, because I personally feel that the way the auditorium is set up kind of diminished the experience of what Yardfest is supposed to be. The limited seating led to lines in front of Cramton similar to what you would see on Black Friday, and it forced students to get to everything hours early just to get a chance at securing a spot at what is supposed to be an event for all students to enjoy.”

Photo Courtesy of Jon Musselwhite, Hilltop Photographer 

Prior to the final act of the night, DJ KDimes showed his versatility during a thirty minute set to keep the momentum going. He included trending music and old classics with the help of host DJ Envy who sang along with the crowd.

The final artists to appear were rap duo Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi, known as Rae Sremmurd when together. As soon as the pair hit the stage, the audience was overflowing with joy. They performed old favorites like “Black Beatles” which became an internet sensation and viral dance in 2016. They also performed “No Flex Zone,” “No Type,” “Powerglide” and “Come Get Her.”

Reese enjoyed this part of the show, saying, “I really felt the energy of the auditorium elevate when Rae Sremmurd began their performance. I fortunately was able to get close to the front of the stage so it almost felt like I was in attendance at a concert. They performed a pretty good catalogue of their top songs.”

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He also felt that, “Their performance was particularly enjoyable due to the number of students familiar with them. This allowed the energy to be felt not only from the stage, but deep within the crowd as well. Overall their set was a great headliner, and even though the location in Cramton was suboptimal, I do believe they made the best of what they had to work with.”

Slim Jxmmi performing, courtesy of Jabari Blake Richardson, Hilltop Photographer 

The 2021 Yardfest concert was a night filled with high energy on stage. Despite the change in location, students had still packed the seats of Cramton auditorium. 

“The sheer fact that I was able to be with my fellow bison and enjoy the performances made it almost feel like I was in my freshman year again pre COVID-19. I do feel as if things could’ve been handled much more efficiently, but overall it was still very much an enjoyable experience,” Reese said.

Waters concluded by saying, “Friday night was definitely worth the wait though. The atmosphere, the energy exuded by my fellow students, and the quality of the performances were indescribable. It reminded me of why I love Howard university and why there’s no place like it. And I wouldn’t change this weekend or my choice in school for anything.” 

Copy edited by Jasper Smith

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