Grey skies hugged the city of Philadelphia earlier in the day before the sun peeked out from the clouds, sending relief to everyone at Made in America who was geared up for the possibility of rain. From there, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was flooded with people from all walks of life, ready to dance and party ’til dusk. From amazing early sets by local artists Armani White and Orion Sun, to incredible performances from Sabrina Claudio and Saba, a massive throw-down from Janelle Monae and a tremendous homecoming from rapper Meek Mill, the first day of the festival was a blast.
Just like Made In America, contemporary rapper Armani White’s roots started right in the city of Philadelphia. Yesterday, White hit the Skate Stage right after gates opened and gave a performance that showcased his magnetic energy and impressive skills on the mic. He and his crew — which included a full band, backup vocals and a brass section — had a stage presence that made the show. They were dancing and filled with smiles, not once was there a dark moment.
There is a special place in my heart for local singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Orion Sun. Her music brings forth inspiration from artists like Frank Ocean and Lauryn Hill. She can lay down the bars while giving you a taste of her mesmerizing voice. Her performance immersed the crew in a bucket of emotions, but mostly just pure bliss. Not to mention, Orion Sun’s sense of style was to be noted. She was rocking the 80s with some old school green striped overalls, and I was all about it.
All I have to say is Colombian-Canadian artist Jessie Reyez is someone you cannot replicate. Her performance threw every emotion at you: sadness, happiness, anger, confusion, shookness and fear. Everything. Reyez’s aggressive rapping, soulful raspy vocals, and multiple bursts of energy took the crowd on a ride. I have so much respect for Jessie. She is not shy with her words and is boldly honest. She sung her empowering track “Body Count,” shouted out the #MeToo movement and spoke about how we shouldn’t let society dictate who we love. While putting the crowd to tears, she also opened a mosh pit and told the audience to start yelling “Suck My Dick” while slam dancing. To finish her set, she whipped out her guitar and ended with her emotional breakout single “Figures.”
For the people who didn’t know Sabrina Claudio was coming into MIA, now they do. The Liberty Stage could not handle what the Miami-bred, Cuban-Boricua R&B singer was putting down. Her performance was hypnotizing and seductive, especially during her no-strings-attached anthem, “Unravel Me.” She had all eyes on her throughout the set, and just like her two-piece outfit, her voice was velvety-soft, and nothing but perfection.
After Janelle Monáe’s set, we had to catch our collective breath. During the hour-plus performance, there was never any stagnation. Her energy was constant and she never missed a beat. She showed off her Michael Jackson-level dancing, especially during her funky single “Make Me Feel.” Janelle Monáe has never been shy about her sexuality, and in between the incredible choreography and a slew of colorful outfit changes, there were moments where she would give the occasional proclamation in between songs about the power of love in all its forms.
North Philly King Meek Mill blessed the Rocky Stage last night and showed his city so much love. Opening with “Millidelphia” off his latest EP Legends of the Summer, Meek hit us with his 2012 gems “House Party” and “Ima Boss.” People around me were going ballistic while I was having flashbacks to the good ole’ days, when life was simple. During the show, Meek got political and spoke out about criminal justice reform, racist treatment by those in power, and wrongful incarceration.
I don’t know anyone who reps Philadelphia harder than Meek Mill. To showcase the amount of talent in the, Meek spared his stage time to bring out rising MC Tierra Whack, who performed her hit single “Hungry Hippo,” and R&B singer PnB Rock, who performed their collaborative track “Dangerous,” as well as PnB’s “Everyday We Lit” and “Seflish.” “Dreams & Nightmares” soon followed. As soon as the crowd heard Meek say “Ain’t this what they been waiting for?” the festival blew up into pure chaos as everyone begin to shout out every single lyrics of the track, holding nothing back. The show soon came to an end, and the rap icon sent us off with an adrenaline-filled banger titled “1 a.m.”
Strapped with an American Flag button-up on and a mic in his hand, Post Malone was ready to tear up the set and put the crowd deep in their bags. Without a live band or backup dancers, all the focus was on the Texas rapper. The best part about Post Malone only having two albums in his repertoire, 2016’s Stoney and 2018’s Beerbongs & Bentleys, is that he basically got to play every single banger he has. “Candy Paint” got the crowd warmed up, followed by his top streamed single, “Better Now”. The iconic intro to “Deja Vu” filled the air with pure bliss as everyone sang along to the kinky-love anthem.
Malone threw down some dirty rhymes as well as delivered us such tender emotions, especially during “I Fall Apart.” Then, when he whipped out his guitar for an acoustic performance of his heartbreaking single, “Feeling Whitney,” off his 2016 album, I lost it. After the feels hit, Post decided to completely change the mood, setting off the crowd, with his multi-platinum lead single “Rockstar.” To end Day One of Made In America, Post Malone closed with his breakthrough hit “White Iverson,” sending everyone back into 2015, and his top charter “Congratulations.”
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