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Chi-town’s top open mic emcees to dominate common’s aahh! fest

Elizabeth “Sunnie Storm” Fuqua is one of about 20 young people hand selected to perform at the early show for Sunday’s AAHH Fest, planned for Union Park on the city’s West Side.

The AAHH Fest is a combination pep rally and concert put together by a consortium of Chicago-based rappers and their kid-centric foundations. Common, Rhymefest and Kanye West are pretty much the big names behind the fest, which was moved from Jackson Park on the South Side to Union Park – presumably to help with logistics for the big event.

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But let’s get back to Fuqua, 21, who is an atypical Chicago songstress and emcee. She scored a spot on the main stage after performing at an event sponsored by West’s charity, Donda’s House and Common’s Charity, the Common Ground Foundation, earlier this year. She’s also a senior at Northwestern University who also happens to be a lyricist who kills it at open mic nights. She’ll be performing an anti-violence cut off her first mix tape, “Sunnie Side Up.” The song is entitled “Fading Away.” Rhymefest curated the performers for this early show.

“It definitely means a lot to me, to perform on this huge platform,” says Sunnie. “The people who won the open mic [nights]? They are talented people.  I’m performing Fading Away because it’s talking about the Chicago violence and we don’t have to resort to any sort type of violence. There’s always gonna be better days, and there’s always tomorrow.”

Take a listen here to “Fading Away.”

Sunnie is excited to perform on the same stage as another young rapper: Diggy Simmons. Diggy, the son of Run DMC’s Rev. Run, is actually the headliner for the early show. He’s a good choice for this early stage because he will definitely get the crowd amped and, for these aspiring open mic rappers, he represents the concept of hard work. That’s because, rather than simply ask his dad for a record deal, Diggy worked hard to earn his stripes. Usually when Diggy performs in Chicago, he draws a crowd.

This year’s AAHH Fest was announced earlier this year along with a package to help employ more young people, year round, in the city. The early show is an all-ages community showcase that runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the park, located on 1501 W. Randolph. In addition to Diddy, Common will close out the community showcase with a performance.

Here’s a list of the community performers:

Chezney Roulett, Chi-Town V.I.R.U.S., Famous Inky and Debo, Johari McGee, John the Author, Keyani, Limitless Soundz, Matt Muse, Move Me Soul, Mr. Baby Rick, R.C.D.Y. Bad Girls, Shaina J., SharmonJarmon!, Shay, South Shore Drill Team, Sunnie Storm, The Happiness Club, Thunderbolt Jones, Tristan Whitaker and Zaji Nixon.

“Thanks to the partnership between the Common Ground Foundation and Donda’s House Inc., the city will be well represented at the 1st inaugural Aahh! Fest,” said Donnie Smith, Executive Director of Donda’s House, Inc. “I am thankful to our judges as well as all of the friends, family, volunteers and supporters who helped along the way.”

There’s a late show that’s open to adults only. That show, which starts up around 4:30 p.m., features an eclectic yet all-ages lineup including Jennifer Hudson, Lupe Fiasco, Common, Jay Electronica, Lil Herb, De La Sol and Mc Lyte. Comedian Dave Chappelle is hosting.

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Proceeds from the fest support the Common Ground Foundation, Donda’s House, Inc., Arts Education in Chicago Public Schools and Year-Round Youth Jobs initiatives. Tickets are still available at www.AAHHFest.com.