Philly got it made

Jill Scott mural at MIA. Photo by Leon Laing.

About 9:30 p.m., hip-hop tycoon Jay-Z stepped on stage and faced a sea of concertgoers at Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Later, a prerecorded message from President Obama appeared on colossal screens. During the message, Obama said he’s a Jay fan, and he encouraged people to vote in November. 

This was part of the setting and Jay’s vision of Made in America (MIA), a two-day fest curated by Jigga. Jay handpicked Philadelphia to host this historical event.

“Everyone knows I have a long love affair with Philly,” he said months before MIA. “You know, early in my career, this is one of the first towns that really embraced me and supported me. I signed an incredible number of artists out of this area. And also now, I’m going to do some film work with Will Smith and James Lassiter over at Overbrook, so I have all these deep connections here. And above and beyond that, it’s called Made in America. It’s such an iconic city.”

Jay commanded the stage while going through his catalog of hits. He continued his brotherly love for Philly by using the Rocky theme song during “99 Problems.” Then Jay brought out surprise guest Freeway of Philly. When Freeway and Jigga performed “What We Do,” the crowd spazzed out. Jay’s last surprise guest was his biggest—Kanye West. Ye and his G.O.O.D. Music squad (Big Sean, Common, Pusha T and 2 Chainz) set the stage ablaze with the infectious hit “Mercy.” The Throne (Jay and Ye) wrapped up the night with its standout single “Niggas in Paris.” Afterwards, fireworks illuminated the sky.     

Both Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian attended MIA to support their beaus. Electronic group Miike Snow performed right before Jay and made a good impression for urban music fans not familiar with the group.

There’s speculation why Saturday’s event attracted 40,000 people while Sunday’s fest had 34,000. Some critics blamed the occasional overcast and light rain on Sunday. The sun shined all day on Saturday. I think the different lineups played a role also.  Mainstream hip-hop is the dominant force in urban music. And more of hip-hop’s mainstream, current chart toppers and/or web sensations performed on Saturday—Jay, Maybach Music Group and Jay Electronica. Neo-soul great D’Angelo took about a 10-year sabbatical before his performance on Sept. 1. So his highly anticipated performance helped to attract concertgoers, too.

Nevertheless, Sunday’s leg of the fest was also spectacular. Jay joined rock band Pearl Jam (Sunday’s main headliner) to perform “99 Problems.” Drake, Sunday’s hip-hop headliner, brought an arsenal of emo-rap: “Trust Issues,” “She Will,” “The Zone,” etc. Then he summoned surprise guest French Montana to perform bangers such as “Pop That” and “Stay Schemin.” Surprise guest 2 Chainz joined Drizzy for the hit “No Lie.”  “Did y’all enjoy your summer?” Drake asked.“I’m working on a new album.”

Like D’Angelo, Run-DMC had fans waiting eagerly. The rap vets had not performed together in years—13 to be exact. Jill Scott always brings her radiant smile on stage. And the monumental festival in her hometown made her beam even more. “It’s good to see you, Philadelphia,” she said. Scott continued to express her Philly love by including surprise guest/Philly native Eve on stage. The two Philly females performed “Shame.” Odd Future’s Syd the Kid, Left Brain and Mike G stood near me to catch a glimpse of Scott before their performance at 6:30 p.m. Scott’s performance ended at 5 p.m. Odd Future’s shock-rap hits, including “Yonkers,” brought the house down. Group leader Tyler the Creator even performed a new, unreleased joint.

Oscar-winning director Ron Howard captured MIA on film. Jay and Howard will release the documentary sometime in 2013.

We used additional reporting from The Philadelphia Inquirer, and For this story, we took our photos from the crowd’s perspective. See below for more pics.

Left Brain of Odd Future. Photo by Leon Laing.

Mike G of Odd Future. Photo by Leon Laing.

OVO shirt. Photo by Leon Laing.

3 Responses to “Philly got it made”

  1. 1 J. BAIR September 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Great coverage. Keep up the good work.

  2. 2 vigoronline September 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Thanks Bair. Good talkin’ to you the other day homie.

  3. 3 Lei Row July 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    nice coverage on #mia! i’m looking forward to attending this year to see yeezy !!! 😀


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