Janelle Monae, Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill and Miguel top Made in America lineup

Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae | still from video

The Made in America lineup is finally here, and this year, the highly-anticipated annual festival will bring a diverse, dozens-strong roster of artists to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The festival will take place September 1 and 2 — just about 90 days away, not that we’re counting.

Up in the top headlining slots are rappers Nicki Minaj and Post Malone, but this is the kind of festival lineup that merits more than a glance at the smaller print. Some of the standouts include the eclectic and awesome Janelle Monáe, fresh off the release of her new album Dirty Computer, as well as R&B star Miguel, and pop singer-songwriter Alessia Cara. Meek Mill, who has become somewhat of a hometown hero lately, will also appear for what is sure to be a triumphant set. Continue reading →


Made In America: The Portraits

Marian Hill | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |

When he wasn’t in the photo pit grabbing killer shots of J. Cole, Migos, Tommy Genesis and more, The Key’s photographer Ben Wong spent this Made In America festival backstage, linking up with artists for on-the-fly portrait sessions.

Below, check out an assortment of his shots — including Japanese BreakfastKodie Shane, a very Robert Smith-esque Beach Slang, a look at Queen of Jeans taking shelter from Friday’s rain and Kaskade embracing it, and much more. To dive deeper into Ben’s work, check out his website,, and give his Instagram a follow.
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Kill, Jay-Z: HOVA reigns supreme at Made In America day two with Meek Mill, Japanese Breakfast, Kelela and more

Jay-Z and Meek Mill | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Two-plus decades into the game, hip-hop icon Jay-Z is still full of surprises. First there was the lowkey release earlier this summer of 4:44, a terrific back-to-basics collection that easily sits along his canonical records Reasonable DoubtThe Blueprint and The Black Album. Then there was yesterday’s closing set at the Made in America Festival.

After a wide ranging, 90-minute performance touching on everything from “Heart of the City” to “H.O.V.A. (Izzo)” to “Hard Knock Life,” Jay swiftly exited the Rocky Stage after dedicating “Numb / Encore” to the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. The lights around Logan Circle came up, the crowd looked around and, perplexed, shrugged to one another, figuring the show had just come to an abrupt conclusion. As the exodus began, stage lights flickered on over at the festival’s Liberty Stage a little ways down the Parkway. Continue reading →


Made In America day one is a soggy spectacle with J. Cole, Solange, Marian Hill, Migos and more

J. Cole | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |

Okay, yes — it was wet. It was muddy at parts. But though yesterday’s climate conditions during Made In America were less than ideal for a celebratory end-of-summer music festival, as Minneapolis rapper Lizzo pointed out during her early afternoon set, there was no room for us to grumble.

“We have a bit of a rain thing going on,” Lizzo said. “But this doesn’t compare to what’s going on in Houston. I’m from Houston originally, I have friends and family who lost everything.”

She encouraged the crowd to donate to relief efforts, and to do so at at the local level as directly as possible. Then she launched into a knockout performance of “Water Me,” a song she said she felt uncertain about playing in the wake of Harvey — “I’m done with water” — but one her Houston loved ones encouraged her to embrace, saying it uplifts them.

So, let’s not dramatize yesterday’s weather. It was soggy, it was a slog to get from point A to point B (but it usually is during MIA, honestly). But the show went on. Continue reading →


10 artists you didn’t realize are playing Made In America this weekend

Rapsody | via The Source

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be teeming with music and meyhem this weekend when the annual Made In America festival kicks into gear Saturday at noon. There are some incredible big names on the bill – the brilliant Solange and the charismatic J. Cole; the emotive Sampha, whose record Process is one of 2017’s best; Philly-rooted pop sensations Marian Hill, who play the main stage on Saturday; and of course Jay-Z himself, returning to the festival stage to celebrate his latest outing 4:44.

But there’s been a modest amount of grumbling about the lineup this year, in no small part because the polarizing dance-pop outfit The Chainsmokers are a co-headliner on Sunday night. People are either “I passionately hate this band and all that they stand for” or “yay music, I listen to whatever’s on the radio!” — and for those in the former camp, once they saw The Chainsmokers’ name on the lineup, they stopped reading further. But as always, the Made in America undercard is reliably awesome, and the early-afternoon slots as well as the out-of-the-way spots (helloooooo Skate Stage) are packed with goodness.

Here are ten artists that you maybe didn’t realize are playing Made in America, but who you definitely should not miss. – John Vettese
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Jay-Z prepares for Made in America with 4:44, a blueprint for the new generation

Photo by John Vettese

Rappers from Kendrick Lamar2 Chainz, Migos, Future, Drake, Rick Ross, Big Sean, Wale, Gucci ManeBig BoiVince Staples, Joey Bada$$ have all contributed to making the first half of 2017 a great year for hip hop. And a few weeks ago, rap icon Jay-Z added his own huge contribution by releasing his thirteenth studio album 4:44.

By putting introspective, complicated rhymes over captivating instrumentals, it’s no shocker that the album has received general acclaim from critics and has already gone platinum — thanks to the assistance of Tidal and Sprint — just a week after its release. Continue reading →


Heavyhitters Jay Z and J. Cole join Solange, Sampha, Lizzo and more at Made In America 2017

Photo by John Vettese

Christmas comes only once a year? False. See: Made in America announcement day. Philadelphia’s Labor Day party is back for another round, and with the announcement of this year’s lineup, we imagine the entire city is excited.

Headlining performances from Jay Z (obviously), J.Cole and The Chainsmokers top of the list of 50+ artists, with featured performances from Run The Jewels, Solange, Lizzo, SamphaMigos, and a heck of a lot more. The local scene is also well represented, as PNB RockBeach Slang, Mannequin Pussy and Queen of Jeans nab some earlier spots.

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How I survived my first Made In America festival

Made in America | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Earlier this month, the 2016 Made in America Festival took to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philly for two days; you can see our full photo coverage here and here. Today, our Lissa Alicia comes to us with her full experiential account of the Philly megafestival; highs and lows alike.

This year’s Made In America fest was my very first one, and I was not at all prepared for what was in store for me that weekend. By no means was this my first rodeo (festival). Earlier this year I attended The Roots Picnic. In the past I have hit up both Governors Ball, Mad Decent Block Party, and Afropunk Festivals. Attending those festivals were for pleasure. Although I was looking forward to Made In America, I was work minded since I was covering the show. I am only 25, so I figured moderate energy and a banana for breakfast would get me through day one. I mean I did survive moshing and raving at Mad Decent while nursing a legendary hangover and only existing on half a blueberry muffin. I guess I am too old for all that jazz now. Continue reading →


Made In America Day Two: Chance the Rapper, Coldplay, Gary Clark Jr. and more

Chance to Rapper at Made In America | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Chance to Rapper at Made In America | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

The day was warm and dry and the Parkway was stacked with fierce performances for the second day of the fifth annual Made in America festival.

Opening with Playboi Carti, closing with Coldplay, featuring standout sets from Chance the Rapper, carnivalesque indie rockers  Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, guitar god Gary Clark Jr., hip-hop sensation Desiigner, punk rock troubadours Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties, hardcore heroes Touche Amore and so much more — not to mention celebs in the audience from Jay Z and Beyonce to former president Bill Clinton — it was a day to remember and then some.

Check out photos below, check out our gallery from day one, and look for a full review of the festival later in the week. Continue reading →