Rappers Cardi B and Travis Scott will headline this year’s Made in America festival, the Jay-Z-curated Labor Day weekend music extravaganza that will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the eighth consecutive year.
It will be the second appearance at MIA for Cardi B, the stripper and reality TV star turned rapper who played the fest in 2017 just as her breakout single “Bodak Yellow” was taking the pop charts by storm. Since then, she’s gone from strength to strength with a 2018 album, Invasion of Privacy, that shut the mouths of any naysayers suspecting she’s a one-hit wonder.
Scott is also a formidable hip-hop star, a Houston emcee known as Kylie Jenner’s boyfriend to viewers of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and who, like many self-respecting rappers, frequently stylizes the S in his name as a dollar sign. He won critical praise as well as commercial success with last year’s stroworld and its subsequent ambitiously staged tour that played the Wells Fargo Center in December.
It should be noted that the MIA lineup as of now is incomplete. In years past, the majority of acts have been announced in one fell swoop, with some add-ons later, as happened last year when Kendrick Lamar was a late-breaking bombshell.
Only 31 acts were announced Tuesday, though, and with five stages to fill for 10 hours over two days, the final number will likely almost double that. So expect more announcements to be on the way, and if you’re not thrilled with the lineup so far, it’s likely to change and more big names could be added.
The fest will once again be staged on the streets, with the main Rocky stage in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
That positioning was a matter of contention before last year’s festival, when word got out that the Kenney administration planned to move the fest to an unspecified site, news that appeared to take Jay-Z and his Roc Nation entertainment company by surprise. It caused a public kerfuffle that was resolved in time for the event, headlined by Post Malone and Nicki Minaj, and which featured star performances by Kendrick Lamar and a homecoming for recently released from prison Meek Mill.
In addition to those two hip-hop headliners, a slew of other acts have been announced for the fest, to be held Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. Among them: emo-rapper Juice Wrld, British electro-crooner James Blake (who recently played the Fillmore), electronic dance DJ-producer Kaskade, California funk and hip-hop band Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, rising alt-R&B singer Jorja Smith, Florida rapper Kodak Black, and Philadelphia breakout hip-hop star Tierra Whack, whom Meek Mill brought on stage last year to perform her “Hungry Hippo."
Tuesday’s announcement appears to make clear the festival has continued its transition to an almost all hip-hop event. The closest thing to a rock act on the bill is Blake, who makes gauzy, atmospheric soundscapes and who frequently collaborates with rappers and R&B stars.
And the under card of the lineup announced so far contains many compelling not-so-mainstream hip-hop acts, such as Stones Throw Records DJ producer Madlib, who’ll be performing with rapper Freddie Gibbs; Haitian Canadian producer and sometime-Anderson .Paak collaborator Kaytranada; and Pink Sweat$, the Philly producer and singer who won the Grulke Prize at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, in March for best developing U.S. act.
As it stands, the lineup is solid if not thrilling. The headliners beat last year’s duo of would-be “Rockstar” rapper Post-Malone and Minaj, who turned in a disappointingly lackluster performance.
The charismatic Cardi and Scott are daring performers with theatrical flair that should make the most of their name-in-lights spot. On the other hand, the non-headliners are so far not nearly as electric as last year, when Meek, Lamar, Janelle Monae, Miguel, and Lizzo were all on the bill. But it’s still early; we’ll see how it shakes out.
A ticket presale for subscribers to Jay-Z’s Tidal streaming service and for American Express cardholders starts at 10 a.m. on April 2. Tickets go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Friday. A portion of ticket sales goes to the American Civil Liberties Union and, new this year, to the Reform Alliance, the criminal justice reform foundation co-founded by Meek Mill and whose board includes Jay-Z. For more info, go to madeinamericafest.com.