Tierra Whack, 2019 XXL Freshman Cypher | still from video
20 artists you didn’t realize are playing Made In America this weekend
The best part of any music festival is connecting those artist names in tiny font sizes to incredible songs that make you dive down the rabbit hole of their discography on the streaming service of your choice. Of course Jay-Z would prefer that streaming service be Tidal, but nevertheless that experience is true as ever for his Made In America festival, which kicks off on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia today.
We know and are stoked about the big headliners — Cardi B and Travis Scott — as much as the second-string artists like Lizzo, Kaytranada, James Blake, Rosalía and Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals. Those are the artists that have gotten the most shine-time in the conversation around the festival. But dig in a bit further and you’ll see and hear that there’s a lot to keep you entertained from mid-afternoon to midnight.
Grace Carter (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Liberty Stage)
Like many others, Grace Carter struggled to feel as if she belonged when she was growing up. Eventually, she found herself in the music of Alicia Keys, Nina Simone, Adele, Beyoncé, and others. She was drawn to artists that proudly bore their hearts and souls in her music. When she started making music herself, Carter set out to do the same thing. “Silence”, her debut single, went viral on Spotify and caught the attention of Dua Lipa and producer Mike Dean. The former took Carter on tour while the latter reached out to the young star to work on music together. This is only the beginning of Carter’s career, and in five years, you’ll be the lucky one who gets to say they saw her before she got big. – Solomon Friedman
Pink Sweat$ (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Liberty Stage)
While Made in America is an undeniably Philadelphian festival, most of the artists that take the stage each year are not from this city or even the surrounding suburbs. However, R&B artist Pink Sweat$ is an anomaly for more reasons than one. The singer is Philadelphia born and raised, with quite the back story. His songs are the sweet, innocent sort of ballads that really touch a heartstring. His technique is so effortless, you would’ve never thought just a few years ago he was battling a life-altering disease. Given the name Pink Sweat$, for none other than his affinity for pink sweatpants, he’s an artist with unusual depth and one you’ll definitely want to hear at the festival. – Lily Sanders
Melli (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Tidal Stage)
ROSALÍA won’t be the only one performing in Spanish at the festival. Harlem rapper Melii will bring her Spanish-English fusion to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. After catching the internet’s attention with a Spanish version of Cards B‘s “Bodak Yellow,” Melii got to work on her debut album. She released phAses earlier this year. The album highlights her talents as a rapper, singer, and writer. With irresistible summer bops and hard-hitting bars, Melii has proved herself to be a new talent you should keep your eyes on. Her performance this weekend will likely cement that for a Philly audience. – S.F.
IDK (Saturday, 4:15 p.m., Tidal Stage)
Jason Mills, better known as IDK, is a rapper from Prince George’s County, Maryland. Previously known as Jay IDK, he has shown a unique lyrical ability and has delivered numerous projects in his time as a performer, all different and expansive. Whether over a smooth jazz-rap instrumental or a mindless trap banger, IDK is able to bring impressive lyrical to the table. – Ian Hranilovich
Elephante (Saturday, 4:15 p.m., Freedom Stage)
Progressive House DJ Elephante, real name Tim Wu, hasn’t had your typical musical upbringing. After attending Harvard University, Wu began his adventures as a DJ under the name “Elephante” as a a reference to the phrase “elephant in the room.” He felt this way after being stuck in his previous corporate job. Inspired by the likes of Skrillex, Elephante has put out remixes for a multitude of artists including Bebe Rexha, Galantis, The Chainsmokers, Jack Ü, and Clean Bandit. His 2018 debut EP, Glass Mansion, reached number one on iTunes Dance charts, and featured stripped back acoustic instrumentation. – I.H.
Buddy (Saturday, 5 p.m., Tidal Stage)
Since releasing his debut single in late 2016, Buddy has steadily been rising in the hip hop world. Following “Shine,” the young rapper teamed up with one of the most in-demand producers and another MIA performer, KAYTRANADA, for the Ocean & Montana EP. The EP sees the duo crafting smooth hip hop that gets better with every listen. Buddy’s debut album, last year’s Harlan & Alondra, serves as the rapper’s guide to the Los Angeles of his childhood. For MIA, he will bring LA to Philly, along with his laid-back flow and inspired production. Hopefully he’ll bring LA’s endless summer with him too. – S.F.
Madeintyo (Saturday, 5:15 p.m., Freedom Stage)
As I’m sure you could imagine from his stage name, Malcolm Jamaal Davis has spent some time in Tokyo. Davis moved around a lot as a child and ended up spending most of his teenage years in the Japanese capital. Contrary to what you might expect given the name, Madeintyo does not make J-Pop. Rather, he makes melodic rap and catchy bangers. He has become a big enough presence in the hip hop world to get people posting their “Madeintyo type beats” on Soundcloud and YouTube. On his debut album, Sincerely, Tokyo, the rising star linked up with Blood Orange, Tinashe, A$AP Ferg, and more. Madeintyo has also collaborated with MIA headliner Travis Scott, so maybe you’ll get to see the pair reunite on stage. Keep your fingers crossed! – S.F.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib (Saturday, 6:15 p.m., Freedom Stage)
Prolific California producer Madlib and midwestern MC Freddie Gibbs spend a decent bit of the 21st century so far establishing themselves as masters of their respective crafts — the former with his production work with MF Doom, Talib Kweli, and team-ups with the late J Dilla, the latter for a compelling solo discography, as well as collabs like last year’s Fetti album with Curren$y. So when these two artists teamed up for the first time in 2014 on the acclaimed Piñata project, it made sense. This year, Gibbs and Madlib released their second collaboration, Bandana, and while it shines with guest spots from Black Thought, Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, and others, the real joy is hearing raw bars rocked over dreamy retro-pop beats, like in the single “Crime Pays.” The chemistry is obvious and effortless, and Freddie Gibbs and Madlib bring that energy to the Freedom Stage tonight. – John Vettese
Kayzo (Saturday, 7:15 p.m., Freedom Stage)
Kayzo is the musical moniker of 27-year old Hayden Cappuozzo. The DJ rose has risen to prominence over the last several years through his remixes and solo material, which encompass a wide range of different electronic music genres. From Trap and Dubstep to Hardstyle to Electro, Kayzo has you covered. He released his sophomore record Unleashed on August 14th, which features the likes of fellow DJ’s K?D, Yultron, and 1788-L, alongside metal heavyweights Of Mice & Men and Underoath. – I.H.
Charly Bliss (Sunday, 2 p.m., Tidal Stage)
In years past, Made in America has had a more eclectic lineup sampling artists from just about every genre. However, recently it has taken a clear electronic and hip hop focus. Charly Bliss is one of the few exceptions to this theme. This New York power-pop group makes music in the same vein of artists from The Beths to Carly Rae Jepsen. Their tracks may sound glittery and lush but are much more lyrically substantive than your typical radio pop. – L.S.
Phantoms (Sunday, 3:15 p.m., Freedom Stage)
Los Angeles-based electronic dance music duo Phantoms consists of Kyle Kaplan and Vinnie Pergola, both childhood actors. The group’s style can be called pop-electronic, but it is truly hard to box them in as they have experimented with many different genres over their time as a duo. The two found huge success through their various collaborations, which include “Lay With Me” featuring Vanessa Hudges and “Just A Feeling” with Vérité. More than just a DJ set, both Kaplan and Pergola utilize live keyboard playing and drum triggering to fully capture the original essence of their tunes. – I.H.
Kur (Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Liberty Stage)
When Philly rapper Kur took the Made In America stage last year, he was riding on pure adrenaline, a hot track (his popular 2016 jam “Uptop! Uptop!”) and a reputation as a badass performer. This year, he returns with a new, deeply personal project, Shakur. Released digitally last month, the album finds the uptown MC recounting the past few years of his life, the deterioration of personal bonds that comes with the hustle (the sensitive “Losing It”) as well as the rough-round-edges identity of his hometown (the fun and fierce “Philly For Ya”). In addition to having new wares to show off, Kur has a plum spot to do so; he’s graduated from the Skate Stage last year to the Liberty Stage this year. – J.V.
Amber Mark (Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Tidal Stage)
Amber Mark is unlike a lot of other artists on the Made in America lineup. The product of a childhood spent traveling the world and living in places like Germany, India, Miami, and eventually New York after her mother’s passing, Mark’s music is a fusion of the multiculturalism that fueled her upbringing. The description “singer-songwriter” has some dreaded connotations, but Mark is anything but saccharine or cliched. Her goal is not to show off her vocal prowess or create lyrical sob stories, she simply tells it as it is. It’s refreshing and much appreciated. – L.S.
Jacob Banks (Sunday, 4:15 p.m., Rocky Stage)
If you’re looking to discover someone with capital “V” Vocals this weekend, you have to check out Jacob Banks‘ set. The Nigerian/British artist has toured with the likes of Alicia Keys and Sam Smith, so you know his voice is legit. His debut album, last year’s Village, touches on everything from neo-soul to dubstep. No matter the vibe, Banks’ voice always shines. He proved that to us with a powerful NonCOMM set last year. Undoubtedly, the same will be true on stage this weekend.– S.F.
Channel Tres (Sunday, 4:15 p.m., Freedom Stage)
If you’re looking to mellow out after more hectic, upbeat sets, Channel Tres might just be your guy. His ambient West Coast house beats and rich, deep voice are a perfect way to unwind but equally easy to dance. Even for the typically anti-EDM crowd (myself included), his tracks infuse elements of R&B, jazz, and hip hop to create a more than just palatable, genre-defying experience. – L.S.
SG Lewis (Sunday, 5:15 p.m., Freedom Stage)
Samuel Lewis, better known by his stage name SG Lewis, is a British singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from the United Kingdom. Lewis finds his roots in synth-pop and funk, bringing them together with electronic music to create an incredible experience. His most recent EP, Dawn, features Clairo, HONNE, and Ruel, and singing from himself. Utilizing a vast set of influences, Lewis is able to craft a specific vibe for his collaborators and set a unique mood. Whether an 80’s synth-pop tune, modern bedroom pop anthem, or funk-driven banger, Lewis’ musical abilities are endless. – I.H.
Megan Thee Stallion (Sunday, 6 p.m., Tidal Stage)
Back when the Made in America lineup was first released in April, the Houston hottie’s name was written in fine print. However, now with everyone and their mom using the phrase “hot girl summer,” Megan is inarguably rap’s hottest new artist. She puts empowered feminist lyrics to an old school Houston bounce flow to create a style we’ve never heard before. Beyond her music, Megan possesses star quality. With her newfound fame, she has initiated beach cleanups, started a college scholarship, and made the new precedent of the female rap game for women to support other women. Let’s not forget she’s doing all of this while still in college. – L.S.
Hippie Sabotage (Sunday, 6:15 p.m., Freedom Stage)
Hippie Sabotage hail from Sacramento, California, and cut electronic tinged grooves with pensive percussion and wailing lead guitar. It’s temping to categorize the duo, brothers Kevin and Jeff Saurer, as a midway ground between jam band and EDM, and as their name suggests, that’s audible on the surface. But as they’ll show the Freedom Stage crowd on Sunday, they’re pop stars in their own right. – J.V.
Dababy (Sunday, 6:45 p.m., Tidal Stage)
Cleveland rapper Dababy took off this summer on the strength of his bass-heavy banger “Suge” and his playful brand of music videos, which satirize 90s hip-hop video tropes with slapstick humor while also staying true to the nervy vibe of his songs. His debut Baby on Baby features collabs with Offset and Rich the Kid, and Dababy brings some late Sunday energy to MIA’s Tidal Stage. – J.V.
Tierra Whack (Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Freedom Stage)
Philly rhymesayer and certified creative genius Tierra Whack might be our must-see of must-sees this weekend at Made In America; thank the gods her set is not in competition with Lizzo. (Although: poor James Blake, poor Kaytranada.) Before capturing the world’s attention and imagination with 2018’s Whack World, she had been building a reputation as a rapper locally since her teenage days as Dizzle Dizz. The singles she released this spring for the Whack History Month series got Whack back to the feature-length song format and showed — through the effervescent pop bounce “Only Child,” the dipped-in-soul bop “Wasteland,” and the fierce “Unemployed” — that her vision extended well beyond the choppy pastiche of one-minute cuts, though those (“Hungry Hippo,” “Pet Cemetery”) are amazing too. Whack’s songs are surreal, but sensitive, and onstage she rocks a party impeccably. Two words: be there. – J.V.