The smell of cheese-steaks in the air… The same 72 stone steps Rocky ran up… The reigning Super Bowl championship Eagles… Last but not least, Made In America Music Festival. This is Philadelphia.
Made In America has returned for its 7th annual celebration in 2018. After many uncertainties for 2019 and beyond, the Jay-Z birthed festival will remain on Benjamin Franklin Parkway for years to come. This news brings great joy as fans from all over the nation gather to see their favorite artists on an epic Labor Day weekend. Previous lineups of the festival included greats such as Chance The Rapper, Travis Scott, The Weeknd, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Jay-Z. This year we were blessed with performances by Post Malone, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj and an extensive bill of rising stars.
Overcast skies and the fear of lightning started the weekend as Made In America kicked off. As the gates opened, a sea of fans flooded the Parkway. There were so many new installations and activities that it was hard to choose what to do first. Giant-sized games like Connect 4 and Billiards were some fun ways to pass the time while you waited for your favorite artist to play. Like always, the Ferris Wheel was also available in the middle of the festival grounds.
This year Made In America said goodbye to long time sponsor, Budweiser and hello to McDonalds. “The McDonald’s Deck,” located in the backstage Artist Village, played host to a variety of celebrities including Nick Cannon, Terrence J, and Jasmine Sanders. Festival insiders enjoyed an exclusive preview of the new Sweet N’ Spicy Honey BBQ Glazed Tenders as well as free burgers and fries. Other sponsors included Ciroc, Dusse, Puma, Tidal, Citi, American Airlines and more.
Different stages were located across the festival grounds. The Tidal stage held performances by up and coming artists who have already delivered hit singles. Some performers included Saweetie, Juice WRLD, Sheck Wes, Lil B and Jay Rock. The Tidal Lounge, located directly across from the Tidal stage, held a relaxation spot and meet & greets with artists who performed on the stage. A nice touch for fans with a Tidal subscription.
The Liberty stage held superstars who are definitely worthy of playing on the main stage. Janelle Monáe, Gunna, Lil Skies, Ty Dolla $ign, Miguel and more gave fans unforgettable memories as they played incredible sets displaying their greatest hits. Diplo would close out Day 2 and although fans were wildly energetic during his set, fans grew impatient.
The Rocky stage.. The pinnacle of each year’s Made In America lineup. This is where the year’s biggest artists join the festival’s headliners. The Rocky stage obviously got its name from being placed a few feet away from the famous landmark. Some artists to take the stage this year include Belly, Pusha T, Rich The Kid, Alessia Cara and Tekashi 6ix9ine. We can’t forget hometown hero, Meek Mill, who played his first Philly performance since his release from prison. “House Party” was more like a welcome back party and Philly couldn’t have been happier.
Kendrick Lamar was a late, but great addition to the bill. He mimicked the stage presentation of his 2017 DAMN. Tour and did not disappoint. As always, he performed with dignity, vigor, intensity and gentle nobility in a supremely tight 58-minute set that spanned multiple eras of his career, ranging from “DNA” and the set-closer “Humble” to “Alright” and early hits like “M.A.A.D. City” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” One of hip-hop’s all-time greats, the Pulitzer Prize winner made it all look and sound easy.
To end the night and close out the weekend Nicki Minaj put on one of her most important performances of her career. The pressure was on after announcing her joint tour with Future and soon after, postponing it. The Young Money rapper has made a lot of commotion these past weeks with her album releasing and taking the number 2 spot behind Travis Scott’s, AstroWorld.
Has the highest selling female rapper finally lost it? Not quite. The “Queen” put on a stunning, dance-heavy performance including hits old and new. Songs like “Hard White,” “Good Form” and “Barbie Dreams” were high points. As promised on social media, she had special guests. Last-minute appearances by A$AP Ferg for the “Plain Jane Remix,” Tekashi 6ix9ine on “Fefe” and Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert for “The Way Life Goes Remix.” All surprises well worth admission.
The 2018 installment of Made In America is just another addition to the books. Easily one of the best festivals we attended this this year. So much to do, so much to see and new additions every year have us ready for what 2019 holds.