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Here’s Why Common Canceled Aahh! Fest for 2015

This year, the artist didn’t have all the tools to make it “as dope as it could be.”

Common at Aahh! Fest in 2014   Photo: Travas Machel

Last week, Aahh! Fest organizers announced that the first-time festival wouldn’t return in 2015. We caught up with Fest founder Common at an appearance for Naked Juice’s “Drink Good. Do Good” campaign this weekend to ask the question on everybody’s mind.

What’s up with Aahh! Fest?

We’re not doing the Aahh! fest this year. We want to wait and do it right. Because the first one was so great, we know the next one we do has to be great. And we just felt this year we didn’t have all the tools or things we wanted to make it as dope as it could be.

We wanted new people. We couldn’t come back with the same fest, and one of the toughest things was that so many of the artists that were good had just been here performing. J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, some of those great artists. We will be back with Aahh! Fest, though.

What will 2016 will look like?

I just know it’s going to be incredible. We’re going to deliver a great—because the first one was so great, we’ve got to step up. And it’s hard to top Kanye, Lupe, De La Sol, Twista, Jennifer Hudson. Obviously we’re not limiting our artists to just Chicago, even on the first fest we had Jay Electronica, but we’re gonna take it up higher.

You have another big project coming up this fall: the Showtime series with Lena Waithe. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

We’ll be shooting a pilot really soon. We’re showing the world what it is to be a young person growing up in Chicago, the good and the tough parts. The humanity. I’ve been around the world, and when I mention what the death rate has been here, and the violence that’s here, they don’t know, cause there’s so much going on in the world. But this is about a coming of age, and young people learning, and the things that they go through, and how beautiful they are but how much of it is a struggle.

Do you know where you’re putting it? Is there a neighborhood?

Several neighborhoods, we’ll shoot it all over but it takes place in Englewood and all across the South and West Side.

What’s really cool is we’re getting some Chicago actors too. I’m inspired—it’s something to be able to provide, to be able to get artists. I’m the music producer, too, so I’m gonna be pulling Chicago artists onto it. I definitely want to get Lil Durk, Lil Herb, I’m hoping to get Vic Mensa and Chance, just to give a variety of what Chicago is about. 

Tell me a little bit about this campaign, Drink Good. Do Good.

Naked Juice has come up with the campaign, and it’s really about food deserts. A lot of areas in Chicago are food deserts; they lack affordable, fresh, quality fruits and vegetables. And that’s really a basic thing in life.

What we’re doing is creating opportunities, creating access to getting food by saying, hey, all you gotta do is take a picture with any fruit or vegetable you like, and tag a friend, and put #drinkgooddogood and they will contribute ten pounds of fruits and vegetables to this area. And the goal is to reach 500,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables.

I want to see good, healthy foods in areas that don’t have them. People in the inner city, we don’t have as much access. When you go into the grocery stores and the corner stores, you don’t see quality foods.

How does this problem connect to other problems in the city?

A nutritionist that I worked with said, “I think one of the ways to get kids in a more peaceful place is healthier foods," and we kinda looked at her. But I’m a true witness to the fact that if you eat healthier you feel better, and it does affect your mental state. I think just providing the inner city, the South, the West Side, and people that usually don’t have access to proper things in life, just good quality of living, to provide those foods for them is a basic necessity that should be there.

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