Made in America is back on the Ben Franklin Parkway this weekend. The two-day fest kicks off Saturday afternoon on three stages. Action will alternate on the Rocky and Freedom stages while up-and-comers are showcased on the smaller Tidal stage. (The Liberty stage, which has previously featured EDM acts, has been eliminated.)
The 2021 headliners are Justin Bieber, who closes the show Sunday night, and Lil Baby, on Saturday.
Bieber doesn’t have the critical cred of previous MIA names like Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Rihanna, but don’t underestimate his appeal. He’s currently riding high with a #1 pop song — “Stay,” with the Kid Laroi — and with his concert tour postponed until next year, MIA is the only place to see the Bieb in 2021.
Lil Baby doesn’t have Bieber’s monster celebrity, but his My Turn breakout album made him a star, topping the charts for five weeks upon its release in February 2020. He followed it this June with The Voice of the Heroes, a collaboration with Lil Durk, who’s playing Sunday.
And there’s a lot going on at MIA beyond the two headliners: Thirty-four acts are on the schedule, including A$AP Ferg, Tinashe, Moneybagg Yo, Duke Deuce, Fivio Foreign, and Fousheé.
Here’s a list of 10 MIA performers not to miss whose names aren’t Bieber or Baby. Keep an eye out to see if the lineup changes if acts are unable to travel to Philadelphia from locations hit by Hurricane Ida.
Megan Thee Stallion. Good luck following, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby. The Houston rapper is a multiple Grammy winner and unstoppable force, from her collaboration with Cardi B on last year’s “WAP” and new team-up with BTS on “Butter” to her own twerktastic bangers like “Thot S—.” She has grown as a cultural force since she last played Made in America in 2019, when she was riding her song “Hot Girl Summer” and an accompanying meme to widespread notoriety and a spot on the Tidal stage.
Kehlani. Oakland singer Kehlani came to prominence while still a teenager with her Cloud 19 mixtape in 2014. She followed with SweetSexySavage in 2017 and It Was Good Until It Wasn’t in 2020, both self-assured R&B albums. This month, she made Cloud 19 available on streaming services for the first time, so hopefully she’ll be revisiting songs like “As I Am” that demonstrated her early promise.
Young Thug. The rapper and fashion icon who has been in the news this week for his real estate development plans to build a Slime City community outside Atlanta named after his Slime Language albums, is a creative shape-shifter. His album due on Oct. 15 is called Punk, so expect to hear rocked-out, guitar-based tunes to go with signature trap hits like “Go Crazy” and “Hot.”
Griselda. The Buffalo, N.Y., trio of brothers Conway the Machine and Westside Gunn and their cousin Benny the Butcher released their 2019 debut album, WWCD, on Eminem’s Shady Records. But the association that immediately comes to mind on WWCD is with the Wu Tang Clan. Griselda’s gritty, unexpurgated approach is a stylistic throwback to the RZA’s productions during the Wu’s 1990s heyday.
Baby Keem. The hyped California rapper known for 2020′s “Orange Soda” is connected with all the right people. His new single “Family Ties” is a collaboration with his cousin Kendrick Lamar, and he has a commanding guest spot on “Praise God,” one of the highlights on Kanye West’s bloated new album, Donda, which is filled with features from various MIA rappers.
Doja Cat. The pop sensation of the moment on the MIA bill. The Los Angeles singer, rapper, and TikTok star has a hit with her sophomore release, Planet Her, and three songs in the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100: “Kiss Me More” with North Jersey singer SZA, “You Right” with The Weeknd, and the guest-less “Need To Know.” Later this month, she’s set to host the MTV Video Music Awards.
Roddy Ricch. In January of last year, Bieber’s “Yummy” had to settle for reaching #2 on the pop charts thanks to a viral hit by Ricch, who will precede Bieber on stage Sunday. “The Box,” from Ricch’s 2019 Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, is still Ricch’s biggest song, but the rapper’s star continues to rise: He’s another Donda standout with a verse on West’s “Pure Souls.”
» READ MORE: Where to eat and drink after Made in America
Bobby Shmurda. Made in America told a triumphant story in 2018 when Meek Mill returned to the stage after being released from prison earlier that year. Now it’s Shmurda’s turn. The gregarious Brooklyn rapper and creator of the Shmoney Dance who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and weapons charges in 2016 was released this spring. He takes a big step in his comeback this weekend in Philadelphia.
Freddie Gibbs. Gibbs is the master of the portmanteau. With producer Madlib, with whom he performed at Made in America in 2019, the Gary, Ind., rapper is known as MadGibbs. Now he’s moved on to a collaboration with another stellar producer, The Alchemist, who he teamed with on the soulful 2020 project Alfredo, complete with a Godfather-themed album cover and gangster movie samples and soulful beats.
Mariah the Scientist. Mariah Buckles was a pre-med student at St. John’s University in New York when songs she was making as a hobby started to get attention on SoundCloud. Her debut album, Ry Ry’s World, marks her as one of 2021′s most promising new artists, and her biology class knowledge animates her bittersweet songs, as in “Brain,” when she sings about how getting caught up in her feelings does “damage in the gray matter.”
Tickets are available at madeinamerica.frontgatetickets.com. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test is required, and mask wearing is mandatory. Attendees are encouraged to upload proof of vax or a test in advance to the Clear Health Pass app at clear.app.link/MadeInAmerica to speed entry. Doors open both days at noon.