On Labor Day Weekend, the City of Brotherly Love flooded onto Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the 10th annual Made in America Festival. The musical festival, curated by New York rapper and mogul Jay-Z, featured an eclectic array of hip-hop, electronic and indie music featuring artists such as Solange, Marian Hill, Vic Mensa and the Chainsmokers over Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2-3. Headlined by Jay-Z himself and fellow rapper J. Cole, the two day festival was a fantastic, albeit wet way to usher in the fall.
On Saturday, the air was cool and cloudy. The first performance I saw was Ari Lennox, the songstress signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville label. She wowed the early crowd with silky jams from her debut EP “Pho.” But as her set was drawing to a close, the rain began to fall.
Although it started out mild, the rain began to pour with vigor. With no place to escape, everyone in attendance was drenched in a matter of minutes. Coupled with the 60-degree weather, the festival quickly took a turn for the worse. The rain let up here and there, but didn’t fully stop until the end of the festival.
But that didn’t stop the performances. Sampha, the British soul singer who released his masterpiece debut album “Process” earlier this year, took the main stage in the afternoon. The rain added a soothing and hazy ambience to his set, which included hits like “Without,” “Blood on Me” and Drake’s “4422,” on which Sampha is featured.
Immediately following Sampha was the Atlanta rap trio Migos. The crowd surged to this stage, making this mid-day performance feel like a headlining show. When Quavo, Takeoff and Offset took the stage, the exuberant energy could be felt. They fed off this energy, bouncing around the stage as they performed massive hits like “Fight Night,” “T-Shirt” and their biggest song to date, “Bad and Boujee.” They seemed a bit subdued at times, but the pure excitement from the crowd made it feel like the three Atlanta rap stars were performing for the first time in a decade.
The night began to draw to a close, and the rain let up a bit. Another Dreamville signee, J.I.D., tore down the Skate Stage with tracks from “The Never Story,” and spit a verbose and polished freestyle. British grime star Stormzy traveled across the pond to perform hits like “Big For Your Boots” and “Shut Up.” He also jokingly apologized for anyone who couldn’t understand his thick South London accent. J. Cole took the main stage to close out the cold and rainy first night.
The next day was much nicer. With the weather clear and in the mid seventies, there was little evidence of the rain from the day before, other than the mud caking the sidewalks. On the main stage, DC singer Kelela dazzled the crowd with hypnotic tunes. Veteran rapper and G.O.O.D. Music president Pusha T brought his hard street raps to Philly, and announced that his upcoming album would be produced entirely by Kanye West.
Other great acts included 21 Savage and Run the Jewels. Closing out the night, the Chainsmokers played some iffy tracks to please the hordes of high school students in attendance, and the man himself Jay-Z finished up the festival with hits from classic albums to new tracks from his album “4:44” released earlier this year.
All in all, it wasn’t the best lineup or the best weather but it sure beat sitting around my apartment playing “Nazi Zombies.”