It’s that time of year again.
Made in America, the popular, Jay-Z curated music festival, returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia this Saturday and Sunday, Sep. 1 and 2.
This year’s festival features an array of big-name performers, including headliners Nicki Minaj and Post Malone, popular DJs Zedd and Diplo, and singers Alessia Cara and Miguel.
In a music industry that has become oversaturated with festivals, Made in America is unique in that its lineup is handpicked by Jay-Z himself. While his connections allow the festival to feature a wealth of major artists — Kendrick Lamar, who typically performs as a headliner at festivals, was added to the lineup earlier this month to give a “special performance”— the rapper also lends a platform to up-and-coming artists. The festival’s Tidal Stage, named after Jay-Z’s music-streaming service, is designated for new artists, and other rising acts are given the chance to perform on the festival’s main stages during the opening hours of the day.
Made in America also stands out for its location, an aspect that was brought into the spotlight last month during a very public debate between Jay-Z and Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney. Since its inaugural year in 2012, the festival has taken place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a far more central and urban location than most other major festivals hold in cities across the country.
In July, the mayor announced that this would be the festival’s last year on the Parkway, citing costs as a concern. Jay-Z refuted the mayor’s comments publicly and angrily in an Op-Ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer, arguing that the festival generates millions of dollars of revenue for the city and that the mayor and his office had failed to initiate any conversation about their concerns prior to the announcement. The pair has since come to an agreement, and the mayor said in a statement that Made in America will remain in Philadelphia for years to come.
This year’s festival will also serve as a homecoming of sorts for rapper Meek Mill, who was released from prison in April following a controversial sentencing for parole violation. His sentencing drew an outcry of protest from fans, particularly in his native Philadelphia. A “Free Meek” campaign ensued throughout the city and the Philadelphia Eagles adopted Mill’s song “Dreams and Nightmares” as an unofficial anthem during their successful run to become 2018 Super Bowl Champions.
Jay-Z was one of Mill’s most vocal supporters during his jail time, penning an essay for the New York Times about racism and injustice in the criminal justice system. Following his release, Mill said Jay-Z contributed “millions” towards his legal fees. Jay-Z is also reportedly producing a six-part documentary series focusing on Mill’s legal battles. Mill, who played Made in America once before in 2015, said in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer that he’s “fired up” about this year’s performance.
With a packed lineup, Made in America is sure to generate as much, if not more buzz during the festival as it has during the lead up. Passes for this weekend’s festival are available for purchase on Ticketmaster’s website.
Follow The Villanovan on Instagram and Twitter for live festival updates and look for our coverage in the first print issue of the 2018-2019 school year coming September 13.