Howard University hosted its first major Yardfest since 2019. Alumni, students, Bison parents, vendors and other kinds of visitors crowded on the Yard to eat food, shop clothes and accessories and listen to artists perform on the stage in front of Founders Library.
On Oct. 21, about 50 product and food vendors occupied the Yard as Howard University partnered with the community to give a platform to the many small-businesses that were selling their products during the all-day event.
Yardfest consisted of a six-hour long concert where host Jae Murphy, an international DJ, personality and set host, kicked off the event at 12 p.m. Murphy is a 2012 graduate of Howard and is known for his work with other well-known music artists such as Eric Bellinger, The Game and French Montana.
“H-U?” he asked the crowd when he came on stage. “You know,” responded everyone.
Senior honors marketing major Colonel Joshua-Higgins, who goes by the stage name Blu, and junior honors journalism major Armani Washington, took the stage alongside Murphy as student hosts of Yardfest.
Howard student artists and label rappers such as 1800 Tommy, Bizzy Crook and Reehabilitation took the stage, and singer Zae France wrapped up the early afternoon performances at 1:30 p.m. Philadelphia rap group State Property and Atlanta-raised music artist Jacquees rapped and sang for the crowd from 1:40 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. as the first celebrity performer for the event.
Oakland, California rapper Symba performed shortly after at around 3:20 p.m. with songs such as “Never Change”, “GOAT” and “Go Get It.”
Former Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots quarterback and current NFL free agent Cameron Newton also made an appearance at Yardfest at around noon to connect with the students. Newton gave out signatures and even led his own Yardfest “swag-surf” dance, which got the crowd on its toes.
Headliners Flo Milli and GloRilla concluded the event with performances scheduled to span from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Flo Milli started at 4 p.m. performing her hits “Conceited,” “In the Party” and “We Not Humpin’” during her Yardfest set. Running slightly off schedule, GloRilla’s set followed at 6:40 p.m., performing some of her most popular songs including “Tomorrow” and “F.N.F,” which happens to currently have over 24 million plays on Spotify alone.
In between these performances, Chloe and Halle Bailey, a 24 and 22-year-old R&B sister-duo, engaged with the crowd through different on-stage segments sponsored by Neutrogena. They informed the crowd on their skin initiative and energized the crowd for the upcoming sets.
The sisters also hosted a game show-styled event called “Bison Family Battle,” where they, along with Howard students who were called up onstage, would answer questions based on skincare and compete for different prizes and bragging rights.
Chloe and Halle Bailey sang some of their popular songs throughout the event as well, such as “Do It” and “Have Mercy.” In partnership with Neutrogena, they sponsored a tent on the Yard called “The Skin Lab,” where people could learn about and sample skincare products.
Before their on-stage appearances, The Hilltop had the opportunity to sit one-on-one with the sisters and discuss their collaboration with Neutrogena.
“Through this initiative and their overall brand, Neutrogena is making sure that all skin types can use their products…,” Chloe Bailey said. “I am so happy that Neutrogena recreated their formula so that we don’t have a white cast on our skin and that we are taking care of it.”
They shared an appreciation for Howard’s homecoming experience and the inviting and up-beat environment, especially because they were on tour and building their brand image instead of taking the typical college route.
Halle Bailey said, “Me and Chloe never had that real college experience since we were on the road so young, so when we come to visit places we think, ‘it would’ve been so cool to attend here,’ imagining ourselves as students here and a part of the Howard family.”
Students greatly anticipated engaging in Friday’s entertainment as this was the first Yardfest for many freshmen, sophomores and juniors. For some, Yardfest did not disappoint.
Sam Daniel, a sophomore BS/MD program Biology major from Columbia, Maryland, expressed, “Being able to go to homecoming for the first time without having to worry about COVID-19 protocol has been all that I hoped it would be. Yardfest has opened up so many opportunities for the community and the students to not only promote their talents, but have fun while doing it.”
All students, however, did not share the same sentiment.
“Honestly, as grateful as I am to be at Yardfest, I thought they would go bigger with the performers for the event. Spelhouse just got Drake, 21 Savage and Lil Yatchy. I just expected more from the first yardfest since 2019.”
Tyler Plummer, a health science major from Carson, California, shared his perspective further by stating that, “Comparing our homecoming to other HBCU homecoming events is just the culture of our different schools, and right now it doesn’t feel like we are comparing too well.”
Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett