And so, it is finally upon us. The inaugural Budweiser Made in America festival, headlined and "curated" - the most overused word in pop culture these days - by Jay-Z will take over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this weekend.
It'll be the first-ever paid event on the city's museum-lined grand boulevard where free fireworks and music celebrations are held annually. With the most respected rapper in the game and grunge survivors Pearl Jam divvying up headliner duties, plus significant electronic dance music (EDM) and indie and hip-hop acts, Made in America stands a chance to establish itself as a must-see event.
Here's a taste of what's in store. And speaking of tastes, along with Budweiser signs everywhere you look, local food trucks will include Guapos Tacos, Pitruco Pizza, Little Baby's Ice Cream, Lucky Old Souls burgers, and Tiffin/Tashan Indian food.
This is Jay-Z's very own festival, so it stands to reason that the exemplary rapper and mover and shaker will leave nothing to chance. Who will be his backing band? The Roots don't appear to be doing anything on Saturday. Is Beyoncé free, or will she be staying home with Blue Ivy?
Will Jay and Kanye West Watch the Throne together? What's certain is that Jay-Z will use this opportunity to reassert himself as the most commanding figure in hip-hop.
Philadelphia has long been a Pearl Jam stronghold. In 2009, the Seattle grunge-era survivors fronted by Eddie Vedder shut down the Spectrum with four shows. With Soundgarden's Chris Cornell dropping out, the mainstream heavy-rock duties fall squarely on PJ's shoulders, so expect one of the most formidable live bands in rock to close out Made in America in style.
Ever since he went AWOL following the sensuous 2002 album Voodoo, D'Angelo has been the reclusive Greta Garbo of Princely R&B-funk-soul.
Now he's back, still in possession of a supple falsetto and a band able to throw down on James Brown-style jams. His stylistic kin is Jilly from Philly, the local heroine singer-songwriter-poet-actress who exudes a life-affirming combination of elegance and earthiness.
The groundbreaking 1980s rappers haven't performed together since their DJ, Jam Master Jay, was killed in 2002. For Made in America, the "Kings of Rock" will reunite in what's likely to be one of the most joyous sets heard on the Parkway this weekend.
Passion Pit/Dirty Projectors
Indie hipsters represent with Passion Pit, the Cambridge, Mass., quintet led by chipmunk-voiced Michael Angelakos, and Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors, the rhythmically assured art-pop project of David Longstreth, featuring the voices of Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle.
Maybach Music/Odd Future
Maybach Music is the blockbuster collaboration between tattooed Miami pop-savvy tough guy Rick Ross, D.C. rapper Wale, and Philadelphia street rapper Meek Mill. Odd Future is the DIY hip-hop collective with profane provocateur Tyler the Creator at its center. Odd Future crooner Frank Ocean will not be there. Earl Sweatshirt, the group's most talented MC, will.
Gary Clark Jr.
In Gary Clark Jr.'s signature song, "Bright Lights," the bluesman who's the hottest six-string slayer to come out of the Lone Star State since Stevie Ray Vaughn makes a promise: "You gonna know my name by the end of the night." By the end of Made in America, you will.
What's a music festival without a matinee idol? Drake fits the bill. The Canadian former child-actor star of Degrassi: The Next Generation can rap, sing, and brood, and gives Made in America something it sorely needs: Sex appeal.
In his Budweiser TV ad, Jay-Z lays out the Made in America theme of bringing various forms of music and culture together. That spirit is embodied best by these two black women, both of whom pull rock, pop, rap, or whatever it takes in shaping their polyglot future music.
The Hives/Miike Snow
How Swede they are. The Hives are the garage-rock revivalists led by Howlin' Pelle Almquist that tend toward shtick, but also tend to tear the house down. Miike Snow - yes, with two i's - is not a person but a slick pop trio, two of whom are the successful pop-R&B production team of Bloodshy & Avant.
The band that doesn't really fit in and I wouldn't miss is X, veterans of the original Los Angeles late-'70s punk scene, fronted by John Doe and Exene Cervenka. I'm guessing these guys came as a package deal with Pearl Jam, for whom they opened recently in South America. If so, then bless you, Eddie Vedder.