By Grant Golden
September 14, 2022
Jay-Z’s Philadelphia-based Made in America Festival serves as a microcosm of the country’s musical diversity, highlighting hip-hop, R&B, indie, pop, and reggaeton this year. A wide-focused bill combined with a robust array of non-profit and social action groups at the festival’s Cause Village, further immersed attendees in a community rarely seen at festivals of this scale. Though some highly anticipated acts canceled, like Kodak Black and Key Glock, the festival packed an impressive amount of artists into the weekend.
Here are some of our favorite performances from Made in America 2022:
Bad Bunny provided a unique feeling as the festival’s closing set. With Puerto Rican flags flying across the crowd and chants of “Benito” ringing through the air, a palpable sense of excitement built up in anticipation of one of the biggest artists on the planet. Bad Bunny opened his set kicking back in a lawn chair and sipping from a red Solo cup, but the remainder of his set was spent running across the stage, flawlessly performing beloved tracks like “Me Porto Bonito,” “Yo Perreo Sola” and “Un Coco.” The performance displayed Bad Bunny’s wide range of sounds from reggaeton to dance music to rap, all with a traditional Latin flare.
Tyler, the Creator
It should come as no surprise that Tyler’s closing set on the festival’s opening day was a force to be reckoned with. Backed by his mountain-esque staging, Tyler brought a lot of energy to Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For high octane tracks like “Lumberjack” and “Corso,” Tyler jumped, sprinted and bellowed lyrics across the stage, while he remained seated or stationary to melodic tracks like “Sweet/I Thought You Wanted to Dance” and “See You Again.” With such a wide selection of songs from his discography, his growth from angular productions like “Yonkers” to smooth pop tracks like “Earfquake” was both apparent and heartwarming for longtime fans. As he closed the night with “RUNITUP” to a thunderous sing-a-long, it was clear that Made in America had many of those loyal fans in attendance.
Toro y Moi
As one of the few “dance” acts on the bill, Toro y Moi was a breath of fresh air over the weekend. The band’s midday set on Saturday was heavily attended and displayed the dynamism of songwriter Chaz Bundick’s music. The set kicked off with an array of tracks from MAHAL, Bundick’s latest release that forays into bright ‘60s psych territory. But as the set unfolded, Bundick’s electronic-leaning dance bops like “Rose Quartz,” “Ordinary Pleasure” and “The Difference” (his collaboration with Flume) gripped the crowd’s attention and brought the danciest vibes of the weekend. As the hook for “Who I Am” projected through the speakers. one couldn’t help but feel a moment of serendipitous joy among a packed crowd of music lovers.
While Made in America showcased a large swath of international acts who blended tradition with modern influences, none did so the way Fuerza Regida did. Spearheading a movement of Mexican urban music, the band captivated the ethos of this year’s Made in America. Backed by a 14-piece band filled with tubas, trumpets, trombones and more, vocalist Jesus Ortiz-Paz displayed an infectious energy. Throughout the set Ortiz-Paz poured drinks into the mouths of his band members as he hyped up the crowd with hits like “Radio un Cochinero” and “Chingas a tu Madre.” And without a sub-bass or hi-hat in sight, Fuerza Regida’s passion, innovation, and performance was more than enough to captivate an audience of both longtime and brand new fans.
Pusha T is a master of minimalism. Backed by a DJ booth outfitted to look like a stack of cocaine bricks, Pusha captivated the crowd with his impressive catalog of hits. Known for his impeccable wordplay, his performance commanded the crowd’s attention with a powerful stage presence and undeniable charisma. A hefty amount of the set focused on tracks from 2022’s It’s Almost Dry and 2018’s Daytona, like “Santeria,” “Diet Coke” and “If You Know You Know,” but the set’s highlights were found in his features. His collaboration with Kanye West, Big Sean and 2 Chainz, “Mercy,” beckoned mosh pits from the crowd and the opening notes of his iconic collab with Kanye, “Runaway,” garnered one of the largest cheers of the weekend. Amidst a sea of younger rappers on the lineup, the veteran proved that he’s still worthy of calling himself “King.”
Aside from festival headliner Bad Bunny, Nigeria’s Burna Boy may have been the most anticipated set of the weekend. Burna’s live arrangement immediately impressed, boasting trumpets, saxophones, and multiple percussionists alongside the standard live accompaniment. With a fairly even mix of tracks from his newest record Love, Damini and 2019’s Grammy-winning African Giant, fans sang and danced along to his smooth melodies and syncopated rhythms. Poppier tracks like “Secret” and “Location” elicited massive reactions from the fans, but when you’re an artist as big as Burna Boy nearly all of the songs on your setlist are fan favorites.
This Grammy Award-winning Philly native had the crowd in the palm of her hands on Saturday night. Sullivan undoubtedly delivered the most impressive vocal performance of the weekend as she effortlessly belted out hits. Opening with fan favorite “Bust Your Windows” from her 2008 debut Fearless, Sullivan and her band set the tone for what proved to be a remarkable set. While the majority of the songs came from her 2021 album Heaux Tales, there were no complaints from the crowd as they sang along to her empowering tracks like “Girl Like Me” and “Pick Up Your Feelings.” Between her impeccable band, a nod to the Fugees with a “Killing Me Softly” cover, and some spine-tingling harmonies, fans left Sullivan’s set beaming.