Jay-Z’s Rags to Riches Story: Made in America

Thu., Sep. 13, 2012 12:07 PM EST
by A.R. Shaw

3:30 p.m.

The festival’s first hip-hop acts were Rick Ross and his Maybach Music Group. Wale entered the Rocky Stage first and opened with ”Bait” and ”Chain Music.” He then introduced Meek Mill who performed ”I’m a Boss” and ”Amen.” Rick Ross hit the stage and ran through a slew of his hits, which included ”Hold Me Back,” ”3 Kings” and ”B.M.F.” Fans responded well to the street-inspired sounds of Rick Ross and his team’s 45-minute set.

4:15 p.m.

Minutes after Rick Ross and MMG finished their performance, hundreds of festival attendees and I rushed to the Liberty Stage to check out Janelle Monae’s set. Backed by a live band and six-piece orchestra, all dressed in black and white, the diminutive songbird made the most of her 45-minute set. Monae kept the crowd jumping by performing ”Many Moons,” ”Tightrope” and ”Cold War.” The highlight of her set was a tribute to Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 with her explosive cover of ”I Want You Back.”

5:00 p.m.

One of the most accommodating aspects of the ”Made in America” festival, was the timing of each act. All of the artists started and ended their sets on time. As soon as Janelle Monae finished at the Liberty Stage, D’Angelo’s set started on the Rocky Stage. After years of being absent from the limelight and dealing with weight issues, D’Angelo has returned in better form. He looked healthy and his voice remained in key as he sang ”Devil’s Pie” and ”How Does It Feel.” D’Angelo also paid tribute to Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell, with a touching song that served as a reminder of how racial profiling continues to be an issue in America.

5:45 p.m.

The nonstop action continued as Jay-Z’s Roc Nation artist Jay Electronica took to the Liberty Stage. The New Orleans lyricist performed most of the songs from his 2010 mixtape Victory during his 30-minute set. His most charged songs were ”Exhibit A” and ”Exhibit C.” He performed most of ”Exhibit A” a cappella so fans could he hear his powerful dedication to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. ”Blow a chunk of the levee out and spit me a stream, knock a man’s house down and build a casin[o], a $2,000 government check from FEM[A], I swam down s–t’s creek and came up clean,” he rapped.

6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For the next three hours, I visited the food trucks, arts and culture village and hung out in the media tent. Most of the buzz around the park was about Jay-Z’s headlining performance and his surprise guests. Some suggested Beyoncé would hit the stage with her husband; others believed Kanye West would show up after Kim Kardashian tweeted that she was in Philly; and some even suggested that President Barack Obama would take the stage with Jay-Z.

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