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Made in America adds Kendrick Lamar to the lineup

Kendrick Lamar | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

After appearances at the BB&T and Firefly earlier this summer, Kendrick Lamar is about to make his return to Philly, this time as the just-announced headliner of next month’s Made in America Festival. The festival announced its initial lineup back in June, and with names like Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill and Janelle Monae at the top of the bill, the addition of another extremely high-profile headliner just a few weeks before showtime comes as a bit of a surprise — albeit a very welcome one. Made in America also announced last week that several additional acts, including Pusha T, 6ix9ine and Daniel Caesar, will also appear. Continue reading →

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Pusha T, 6ix9ine, LilSkies, and Daniel Caesar added to Jay Z’s Made In America lineup

Pusha T
Pusha T | Photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN | brightloud.com

There has been a great deal of conversation surrounding Jay Z’s Made In America on whether or not the annual music festival would continue to be held on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Luckily the city of Philadelphia decided to keep the festival in place (read about it here), and in further good news, the festival announced a bunch of new artists this week. 

Joining the Labor Day Weekend event are Pusha T, Tekashi 6ix9ine, Lil Skies and Daniel Caesar. They will be performing alongside powerhouse artists such as Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, Meek Mill, Diplo and more. Continue reading →

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Made In America will remain on the Ben Franklin Parkway, says Philly Mayor’s office

Made In America | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Made In America is remaining in the heart of the Philadelphia. The future of Jay-Z’s annual music festival was in doubt last week, as word got out that the city did not want it located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway beginning in 2019. But following a national backlash, both parties have come to an agreement, announcing today that the festival will remain in place at the foot of the Art Museum Steps. Continue reading →

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Made In America’s future on the Parkway is in question; Jay-Z responds to city’s “eviction” in Inquirer op-ed

Jay-Z | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

While Jay-Z’s seventh annual Made In America music festival is set to bring Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, and Janelle Monae to Philly on Labor Day weekend, this could be the last year the event takes place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Or, depending on how alarmist you want to get about it, in Philly at all.

Yesterday, Danya Henninger of Philly news site Billy Penn reported that MIA 2019 would not be held on the Parkway, attributing the news to an unnamed Philadelphia communications official; this was verified by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Dan DeLuca, who received a statement from deputy communications director Sarah Reyes. Both accounts contained similar reasoning and language: per Reyes in the Inquirer, “When the festival first started, it was intended to provide a unique attraction to the city on the otherwise quiet Labor Day weekend. Over the years, tourism has grown overall, and the need for an event of this scale at this location may no longer be necessary.”

This, however, came as news to Jay-Z and his partners at both Roc Nation and LiveNation, who organize the festival every year. They learned about the city’s intents though the Billy Penn article, and Jay-Z responded to what he’s termed as an “eviction” with a scathing Inquirer op-ed today. Continue reading →

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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 →

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Made In America: The Portraits

Marian Hill | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN | brotherlylost.com

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, BrotherlyLost.com, 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 →

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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 | brotherlylost.com

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 →

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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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