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Summer’s close-out music festival Made in America takes over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday and Sunday. The lineup promises a mix of hip-hop heavyweights, R&B crooners, and plenty of up-and-comers — including several from Philadelphia..
The biggest draws are Tyler the Creator, the irreverent rapper/producer known for his antics onstage and online, and Latin trap superstar Bad Bunny, fresh off of his groundbreaking MTV Video Music Award win.
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Though the festival has plenty of ties elsewhere — it was founded in 2012 by “King of New York” contender Jay-Z in homage to his pre-beef collabs with Kanye West and almost left thanks to some beef with Mayor Kenney — it’s full of references to its host city, both overly obvious and covert.
Performers take to the stage in the shadows of City Hall and the equally-iconic Philadelphia Art Museum. The event’s Cause Village directs attendees to donate to local Philly organizations, from anti-violence nonprofit Mothers in Charge to the school district itself. (There’s also the swarm of bridge-and-tunnel teens with vodka-filled water bottles, who don red, white, and blue — because Philly? Birthplace of America, baby.)
Made in America has also cemented many Philly acts as bona-fide rappers and rockers.
Meek Mill famously “stole the show” from Rick Ross and Wale when he first performed at the festival nearly a decade ago, while cult-favorite indie rock bands Hop Along and Mannequin Pussy played to some of their biggest audiences on the Parkway in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
Looking to show some brotherly love to local artists during the festival? Here are 7 performers at Made in America with ties to Philly.
Lil Uzi Vert
Mumble rap fans rejoice: Lil Uzi Vert is back on the Made in America stage after performing a guest set with Nicki Minaj in 2018. Raised in Francisville as Symere Woods, the emo-esque emcee rapped in a group called Steaktown while at Northeast High School, though it’s still unclear if Woods runs Philly — even after “Eternal Atake” went double platinum.
This year’s festival is one big victory lap for the Strawberry Mansion native whose fourth album “Heaux Tales” earned her a Grammy win this year, plus plenty of praise from the tastemakers over at NPR and Pitchfork. Sullivan, who currently lives just outside Philly in Ambler, is also a CAPA grad. She got her start singing at a Germantown Baptist church and still frequents Rittenhouse tapas spot Bar Bombon for vegan eats.
The opening bars of his song “Billie Eilish” may be sountracking fit checks and thirst traps all over TikTok, but just 6 months ago 25-year-old West Philly native Armani White was an unsigned artist.
White isn’t shy about sharing pieces of his upbringing with his fans. The singer recently opened up about losing his father to cancer and his uncle to gun violence for Insider, and his mom made a cameo in the video for the single “Diamond Dallas.”
Another North Philly-bred rapper, Zah Sosaa’s love of punchy beats and airy flow feels more reminiscent of Lil Uzi than Meek Mill. The 21-year-old cut his teeth as a local teen rap phenom, and was outspoken about balancing his high school classes with sold-out shows at The Fillmore in Northern Liberties. This is his second time at Made In America, after opening up the festival with songs from his debut mixtape “Already Paid” in 2018.
Known to friends and family by his government name Chauncey Ellision, North Philly native KUR (pronounced “core”) is a veteran of the local rap scene. Ellison started writing rhymes as a teen and dropped his first mixtape “Straight from the Kur,” when he graduated from high school in 2012. Since then, it’s been an ever-upward journey for Ellison, who earned a coveted spot among 2016’s BET Awards Cyphers before signing with Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers label.
One-fourth of this blossoming Los Angeles-based rap ground hails from Philadelphia. Eric Jamal — a 20-year-old emcee from North Philly — joined the group in 2016, which was well before their viral single “Never Freestyle” had hip-hop fans oohing and ahhing.
The group, which grew close by sharing a studio apartment, has amassed an eclectic array of accolades, from opening for comedian Dave Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl to rapping the title track for the acclaimed crime drama “Queen and Slim.”
Okay, fine: Pusha T isn’t from Philadelphia. But the Bronx native does know a thing or two about Philly’s shoe game. The ex-Clipse member who calls himself the “Martin Scorsese of street rap” owns Creme321, a streetwear store on 2nd and Race Streets that specializes in hypebeast-style hoodies and fly kicks.
An extra fun fact: The rapper chose Philly as one two cities for the exclusive drop of his all-white “Ozweego” shoe, a limited edition collab with Adidas that sold out within hours.