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As told by @JRK316
October is great, and not just because it gives girls an excuse to dress up like harlots. And it’s not because of football either. Howard University’s Homecoming is a landmark event, and while people unfamiliar with the school or the experience might not understand, if you've spent any time at Howard, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The week’s festivities will soon be over, but it’s Thursday night through Sunday afternoon where legends are born. Because of this, October will always be synonymous with my alma mater’s Homecoming.
Thousands of stories happen every year at Howard University’s Homecoming, and most of them are never told. In my short time on this planet, HU Homecoming has left me with a ton of memorable moments. Just last year, I witnessed grown men sprint to see Rick Ross perform, woke up at 1 a.m. to try and finagle my way into a party where J. Cole performed only to wake up four hours later and trek to Philly for a wedding. Following the reception, I traveled back to D.C. to keep the party going as the clock struck midnight and Mischief Night became Halloween. As you can see, I lived to tell about it, so without further introduction, here are a few reflections and some advice on how to make the most out of the next three days.
Yardfest. It’s an outdoor concert that goes down on the Friday of Homecoming week, and simultaneously attracts everyone from high school kids to celebrities. I have a cousin who was at Howard when Jay-Z and DMX rocked Yardfest and I only hoped that my first experience would be worthy of a story. Little did I know that it would be the first time that a lot of people saw Kanye West perform live. At this time, he was only known for his production, but “Through The Wire” had just come out and he had announced that he was working on his debut album. Rockin’ a green army jacket and accompanying then Roc-A-Fella artists Juelz Santana and the members of State Property that could actually leave the state of Pennsylvania, Kanye performed “Wow,” what would later become “Gold Digger” and of course, “Through The Wire.” I always thought the concept behind “Through The Wire” was brilliant, but I was really impressed by his stage presence and cleverness. However, the response from the crowd was lukewarm. Four months later, The College Dropout came out and the rest is history. Even back then, 'Ye got the last laugh.
Stars are born at Yardfest, and the identity of the headline act for the show is a guessing-game that becomes a horribly kept secret. Back in ’05, Jeezy had just dropped Thug Motivation 101 and there were rumblings that he was going to close the show. With Snowman signs and t-shirts everywhere, everyone waited patiently for Jeezy’s arrival. There was plenty of entertainment along the way though, such as a Three 6 Mafia inspired mosh pit and Ghostface randomly launching into “Natural High” by Bloodstone during his set. When the sun set and the rain began, people began to worry, but all doubts were silenced and everyone went into a frenzy when they heard the opening notes of the album’s title track. Sure, I was sick for the rest of the weekend, but it was worth it.
Homecoming ’05 was also unforgettable because Cam’ron got shot. After leaving a party hosted by Diddy (yeah, he went to Howard too), Cam was chillin’ in his ’06 Lambo, draped in about $200K worth of jewelry, when he was shot in both arms during a failed carjacking. They didn’t get him for his jewelry or the Lambo, and Cam famously drove himself to Howard University Hospital. He also famously refused to cooperate with investigators, and it would provide great fodder for his epic interview with Anderson Cooper. Even after the shooting, Cam still expressed his love for Howard and the District. A friend had come to visit that weekend to soak up the experience, and helped devise an evil plan to convince some of our other friends that he was loosely connected to the shooting. After several strategically placed phone calls, we had them all sold. However, once people started showing concern, we had to drop the charade.
Back in ’08, Wale shot the video for his hometown ode “Nike Boots” during Homecoming. While at Yardfest, he walked among the people, joined by the likes of Young Guru and 9th Wonder as Chris Robinson directed the video. He performed tracks from his critically-acclaimed Mixtape About Nothing, which had dropped that May, along with some earlier material, before bringing out Bun B. Later that night, he and everyone else partied at Love Nightclub (1350 Okie Street Northeast), as the video shoot continued with Bun B and Chris and Neef of the Young Gunz. Wale’s been at Yardfest every year since, and with his appropriately-titled MMG debut about to drop in two weeks, it’s looking like his hard work is going to pay off.
I’ve learned my share of lessons during Homecoming. Some of the best advice that I can offer is to avoid blowing your money on shit you won’t remember wearing and may never wear again. Also, be wise with your footwear selections if you plan on getting close to the stage at Yardfest, because your feet will get stepped on and possibly covered in mud. Then, of course, there’s always that one party that’s “the thing to do.” I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to chill outside of the venue and wait for the festivity to end. Plenty of people aren’t going to make it inside, so it’s almost like another party. Plus, you can simultaneously save yourself money and a possible headache. And don’t be surprised by what you see. In my time, I’ve seen a ton of groupie activity, as members from both sexes tried their hardest to get chosen by celebrities. Yeah, I just said that.
As for maximizing these final days of Homecoming, remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Nostalgia is created every year, so while I implore everyone to leave it all on the field this weekend, pace yourself so you can actually remember it. With that said, go forth and create more stolen moments.