AO! editor, MissKhalila, had the chance to attend the Jay-Z curated Budweiser Made In America Festival in Philadelphia, Sept. 1-2, and has the exclusive take on what went down last weekend! Enjoy pictures, footage, and more after the jump.
Depending on who you ask, Philly natives were either full of pride for their city or passionately aggravated about the major takeover of the heart of their downtown: Benjamin Franklin Parkway. While the road closings, hotel bookings, and crowded narrow streets caused some frustration, it was clear that history was being made in the city of brotherly love with Budweiser’s first annual Made In America music festival taking place.
Traffic issues hindered my access to one of the first main stage events — Maybach Music Group’s set by members Rick Ross, Wale, and Meek Mill. However, from what I hear, the boss and crew made a great impression on the crowd bringing in the festival with such an early set (3:30 PM). Not to mention, true fans received a short-lived surprise appearance by newcomer Rockie Fresh.
Saturday was indeed a beautiful day to drive into the city for the start of the festivities. [The whole time I was thinking, is it really Always Sunny In Philadelphia?] I arrived just in time to catch Jay Electronica waving a towel around on stage, getting the crowd to call and respond to his antics. His “true hip-hop” style drew out a large, yet easy going group of people ready to embrace his lyrical charisma.
Meanwhile, D’angelo took his smooth self to the main stage to perform classics, drawing out the older festival attendees and creating the perfect summer cookout vibe.
After getting my hipster on at Passion Pit and Dirty Projectors, I turned on full dance mode for an incredible set by Calvin Harris. On the only tent-covered stage, the “We Found Love” DJ transitioned to hit after hit turning the audience into a dance floor. With sand at our feet, it was the ultimate “beach” party. He had us rolling without Mollys to say the least.
Nevertheless, the moment we were all waiting for finally arrived as Jay-Z opened up his legendary performance after sundown with his signature, “Allow me to re-introduce myself.” There are few words to describe the energy that reverberated throughout the center of Philly’s historical parkway as Hova took the stage before the Museum of Art. With a stellar surprise performance by G.O.O.D. Music members Kanye West, Big Sean, and Common as well as 2 Chainz, alongside the hip-hop music mogul, there were no doubts as to how the night would go down in history. A few “Watch The Throne” and G.O.O.D. Music hits later, crowds of blissful faces slowly exited the parkway as we all excitedly pondered the moment we had all shared.
Day Two had quite a lot to live up to. Despite rain showers early in the day, the legendary and popular acts on the roster for Sunday continued rain or shine, discouraging few. My first stop was Santigold [after unfortunately missing Rita Ora] at the main stage, who as usual, put on an entertaining performance, inviting crowd members onstage to accompany her and her notorious back-up dancers. Decked in one colorful outfit after another, Santi brought in Day Two with a bang during her early set.
In between urban sets, a few of us headed over to the dance tent to check out Burns, a DJ from Glasgow now working on his debut album. The scene was a blend of the young, the international, and the fratty — an audience in full college rager mode. Nevertheless, we had a great time dancing to both Burns’ own beats and mixes as well as the occasional injection of a ” N*ggas In Paris” club type track.
Jill Scott’s following main stage set was entirely perfect for the Made In America setting. As a North Philly native, Scott demonstrated enormous pride for her city, and sang classics such as “Shame” with which she introduced the highlight of her show: a surprise performance by fellow Philadelphia hometown hero, Eve. The rapstress took the stage to perform her hit “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” giving Jill Scott’s set just the oopmh that it needed to get people up on their feet.
Run DMC made one of the bigger impacts of the day, hitting the main stage with full force to perform notorious numbers for their first live performance in ten years. While there were what seemed to be a couple technical difficulties, Rev Run and DMC delivered classics to an audience, to their surprise, that knew every word of “Rock Box”, “It’s Tricky” “My Adidas”, and more. With a tribute to the late DJ Jam Master Jay and the introduction of his DJing sons, Dasmatic and Jam Master J’son, Run DMC closed with “Walk This Way”, epically dropping the mic before exiting the stage.
An unfortunately underwhelming follow-up act was Odd Future, who took the Liberty stage to perform their wild child internet-famous hits, under short-lived downpours. Nevertheless, their hardcore fans endured and experienced a decent set by the West coast rappers, despite no signs of their famed vocalist Frank Ocean.
A highly anticipated set by YMCMB’s Drake followed on the main stage, where the Canadian rapper/singer brought out guest performances by French Montana and 2 Chainz for hit singles “Pop That” and “No Lie”. While Drake definitely had a majority of the festival go-ers at his disposal, some of us were disappointed by his overly emo choices to perform “Marvin’s Room” and take a jab at “fake friends”. I, personally, was upset at not seeing him perform his first hit single, “Best I Ever Had” as well as a favorite, “Make Me Proud”. Nevertheless, the masses seemed to genuinely enjoy Drake’s set, character and overall performance.
While we ended the night with a magical set by Afrojack, most people only began heading out after an intense two hour set by American legends, Pearl Jam. The “Rockin’ In The Free World” band closed out with an encore by the man of the hour himself, Jay-Z.
With an endless supply of Budweiser, snacks and food, a very eclectic and diverse crowd of people, some of the biggest acts in history and today, as well as an impressively impeccable schedule, congratulations are well in order to Jay-Z and everyone who took part in making the Made In America festival possible. Philadelphia was also a wise location choice, a first for me and a city I’ve found to have some of the kindest residents and coolest shops and restaurants. I’ll give the icing on the cake to the fact that Jay and Bey were spotted all over the grounds participating in the festivities alongside everyone else. I can only imagine what greatness is to come for next year! Check out some more of my personal photos below.