Despite the rainy weather, the Yard came alive as Howard University hosted its annual Yardfest concert on Oct. 20. Participants took advantage of the opportunity to enthrall themselves in the festivities, enjoying performances from rapper Offset, singer Victoria Monét and more under the theme “Revival.”
Notable alumnus Sean “Diddy” Combs made an appearance to publicly present the $1 million pledge he made to Howard University.
“I really feel this is a full circle moment for me. It feels like you know, there’s something brewing in the energy of the universe for us,” Combs told The Hilltop. “So, this was the time for me to come back, and tap in and, also to just do what I feel will get us to having a true revival.”
The entertainment mogul attended Howard from 1988 to 1990 as a business major and left to pursue his career in the music business. Combs received an honorary degree from Howard in 2014.
“I think that I want to play a part in getting all the alumni to be able to sew back whatever you can sew… Because this is the greatest institution, Black educational institution ever. And so we have to protect this by any means necessary. So it’s definitely a revival.” Combs said.
The concert kicked off with a lineup of student performers who took the stage with dancers and original tracks with a performance by rising R&B star Honey Bxby following. Rapper Kaliii and R&B star Victoria Monét also took to the Yardfest stage, courtesy of Howard University partners NYX Professional Makeup and Procter & Gamble.
Rappers Pusha T and Offset later took to the stage and performed some of their hits. This marked a return to the Yardfest stage for both artists. Pusha T performed in 2012’s legendary concert with a surprise Drake appearance, whereas Offset gave his first solo appearance since leaving the Migos.
Rapper Kalii performed with Howard’s Bisonette Dance Ensemble in a showcase of HBCU culture. In an interview with The Hilltop, Kaliii expressed that since she did not attend college herself, the energy was exhilarating.
“I love it because I didn’t go to college. I didn’t get to participate in this type of space. So every time I get to be a part of it and see it, it makes me be like ‘Dang, I wish I went to college or I wish I went to an HBCU,’ you know.” she said.
NYX offered swag bags of makeup staples and announced sweepstakes worth $25,000 in cash prizes. Procter & Gamble gifted students who won a Howard trivia concert with dorm essentials, along with stations amongst the Yard offering free products.
Some alumni felt that returning to their alma mater was a special moment and are already looking ahead to next year’s events. In 2024, the university will celebrate 100 years of homecoming.
“It has been amazing seeing everybody,” Laci Blondell, a Howard alumna, said. “I feel totally rejuvenated. I am so glad that we came back to Homecoming, [and I’m] looking forward to more years of that.”
On social media, students held mixed opinions. Many expressed that Yardfest did not live up to their expectations.
Daylon Daniel, a senior biology major, chemistry and history double minor, felt that the concert was boring. “I would say that the performers that we had were ok, but it was a lot of standing and waiting around for them. But even then I feel like the majority of the student body wanted other performers, as well. Like last year, when we got City Girls and [Lil] Durk for Springfest everybody was lit because those were performers we actually wanted to see…I do believe the rain definitely played a part in throwing everyone/everything off.”
Senior biology major Judah Elise agreed that the rain changed things.“When it’s starting to rain, everyone’s starting to evacuate. So, for me, it’s a little bit of a disappointment. But I think before it was good, like before it started to rain.”
But others still felt that the concert was a success despite the weather.
“Although we came at a later time, it was still beautiful. It was beautiful. It’s so nice to see everybody coming out and having a beautiful sense of community I haven’t seen in a while,” a senior biology major, Sharon Iweajunwa, said.
Yardfest is one of many Howard events that introduce attendees to Howard culture. Including freshman music business major, Alphonso Evans, who experienced his first Yardfest.
“I had a good time. I was with my friends. So, I felt like me being with my friends made up for a lot of it,” he said. “I feel like we was waiting and standing for a while at YardFest, but I feel like the vibe made up for it.”
Copy edited by Alana Matthew