After rapper Ludacris performed at the first homecoming concert in 2004, mainstream musicians and underground artists on the rise have made their presence known at VCU.
The homecoming committee has switched up the concert format in the past by adding venues or subtracting the number of artists performing. For the first time in homecoming history, VCU students will open for this year’s concert, which features Mack Wilds, Jhené Aiko and Fabolous.
To get a chance to open for this year’s homecoming artists, students had to prepare a five-minute audition in November for the Homecoming Committee. The four performers selected represent a wide range of local talent.
One of those selected was junior psychology and criminal justice major, Tai-Wo, a Brooklyn-born hip-hop artist who has opened for Hi-Rez and XXL artist Dizzy Wright. Also scheduled to perform is Blank Canvas, a local community of dancers. Junior Jasmine Lawrence was the lone singer selected to perform and the last student group selected was the CompleX Modeling Troupe. Formed in 2008, the group performs showcases combining modeling and dancing. Recent performances include opening for the Fall Block Step Show in September 2013.
Rapper and singer Mack Wilds first got his start through acting. As a teenager, he acted in films such as “The Secret Life of Bees” with Queen Latifah and “Red Tails” with Terrence Howard. Wilds has also appeared in television shows such as HBO’s “The Wire” and CW’s “90210.” According to his website, Wilds always wanted to pursue music during his acting career.
“I don’t remember a time in my life when music wasn’t a factor,” Wilds said.
Wilds released a free seven-song EP “Remember Remember” in 2011 and signed to Grammy Award-winning producer Salaam Remi’s label, Remi Fa, in 2012. He released his first full length album “New York: A Love Story” in September 2013. The album’s single “Own It,” written by Ne-Yo, debuted at No. 40 on Billboard’s Mainstream R&B and Hip-hop list.
Native to New York City, Wilds gives his hometown credit for inspiring the sounds of the album.
“This is that full-on, old school, New York, boom-bap that we’ve been waiting for,” Wilds is quoted as saying on his website. “This sound isn’t just old school, this is what is in our blood.”
Jhené Aiko is a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles who comes from a family of singers. Her older sisters Miyoko and Jamila performed in the R&B group Gyrl and toured with Immature. Aiko met music producer Chris Stokes at the age of five. When Stokes helped the R&B group B2K sign with Epic Records, Aiko signed, too. In 2002, Aiko contributed to multiple B2K releases, and she later had songs featured on the movie “Barbershop” and the Disney television show “The Proud Family.” The artist released her first single, “No L.O.V.E.,” when she was only 15 years old. After a brief hiatus and release from Epic Records, Aiko returned to the music scene in 2011 with a mixtape titled “Sailing Soul(s).” In an interview published on soulculture.co.uk, Aiko said her new release was an escape from her previous label.
“I stepped back into the field and took a meeting with a label head. In this meeting, I was innocently told to ‘sell’ myself when walking into these meetings,” Aiko said. “That’s when I decided I would ‘sail’ myself rather than sell myself.”
Her mixtape featured guest artists Miguel, Drake, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Gucci Mane. In 2012, Aiko was signed to Artium Records, and she released her debut EP “Sail Out” in November 2013. The EP includes the single “Sail Out”, featuring Childish Gambino and debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart.
From Brooklyn, N.Y., Fabolous started rapping as a senior in high school. The artist made appearances in mixtapes by DJ Clue and Roc-A-Fella artists, and signed to Desert Storm Records in 1998. Fabolous later signed a distribution deal with Elektra Records. His debut album“Ghetto Fabolous” was released on Sept. 11, 2001, and it debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 list. The album’s first single, “Can’t Deny It”, featured a chorus by Nate Dogg and placed on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Also charting was “Young’n (Holla Back)”, produced by The Neptunes and Trade it All, produced by DJ Clue.
By 2004, Fabolous had released three albums and was nominated for a Grammy for his collaboration on the “Dip it Low” remix by R&B singer Christina Milian. After signing to Def Jam Records in 2006, Fabolous released his fourth album “From Nothin’ to Somethin”. The album placed on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and later certified Gold in July 2007. In 2006, Fabolous also released his own clothing line called “Rich Yung Society.”
Fabolous’ fifth album, “Loso’s Way,” was released in 2009. The rapper is currently working on a follow-up album, titled “Loso’s Way 2,” but a release date has not been announced. In an interview published on losangelesleakers.com, Fabolous said he was working on the album with fellow big name artists.
“Future (is) on there. Rick Ross is on there as well, and I’ve been talking with Nas and trying to reach out to Kendrick (Lamar),” Fabolous said.
During an interview with MTV, Fabolous said the upcoming album is about his evolution as an artist.
“(People) know I’ve been in the game for a minute,” Fabolous said. “But you gotta continuously show that growth and show that you’re bringing something.”