For the sixth year running, the Budweiser Made In America festival will set up shop on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this weekend.
You know who the headliners are. North Carolina rapper J. Cole, who has topped the Billboard charts with his last two releases, the most recent being 2016’s 4 Your Eyez Only, heads up the Saturday night bill. And Sunday belongs to Jay Z, the festival curator and rap kingpin who has returned to musical relevancy with the new 4:44.
But of the 65 other acts playing on five stages over the course of the two-day festival, who else is worth seeing? What follows is a list of 10 picks to click, although it should be noted that it includes only out-of-town touring acts, with the Philly bands who are at least as (if not more) worthy being the focus of a separate tip sheet.
Lizzo. Houston-native Melissa Jefferson — aka Lizzo —
is a smart choice to jump-start Made In America on Saturday afternoon. The Minneapolis-based alt-hip-hop rapper and singer is a tireless entertainer whose new body positive jam “Water Me” picks up where her ebullient 2015 album Big Grrrl Small World left off. 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the Liberty stage.
Sampha. British songwriter Sampha Sissay has played a role on many high-profile hip-hop records, but he’s not a rapper. The 29-year-old producer from South London is a pianist and a particularly soulful singer whose talents have been put to use by Kanye West, Drake, and Solange, among others. Alert Joel Embiid: Sampha’s sterling debut album is called The Process. 4:15 p.m. Saturday on the Rocky Stage.
Cardi B. The Bronx-born emcee and Love & Hip Hop: New York reality TV star may turn out to be a one-hit wonder, but her aspirational hit, “Bodak Yellow” is the hottest rap song of the summer. When the rhymer played the Fillmore this summer with Meek Mill, the crowd first went wild when a DJ played the banger before the show started, and went crazier still when she came on stage to do it live. 5 p.m. Saturday on the Liberty stage.
Migos. It must be in their genes. The Atlanta hip-hop trio whose rhymes flow effortlessly into one another are all related: Quavo and Offset (to whom Cardi B denies she is engaged) are cousins, and Takeoff is Quavo’s nephew. They first broke out big with “Versace” in 2013, but their signature hit from the impressive 2017 album Culture is “Bad and Boujee,” which features Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert, so expect a not-so-surprising surprise appearance. 5:45 p.m. Saturday on the Rocky stage.
Solange. Beyonce’s little sister came into her own artistically and politically with last year’s A Seat At The Table, and she put on a theatrical, highly stylized show earlier this year at the Roots Picnic. Look for a collaboration with Sampha, who sat in with her at the Panorama fest in New York earlier this summer. 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the Rocky stage.
Downtown Boys. An explosive rock outfit from Providence, R.I., Downtown Boys are recent signees to Seattle’s storied SubPop label, and have just released The Cost Of Living, a galvanic salvo in which lead singer Victoria Ruiz speaks up for the dispossessed. 2:30 p.m. Sunday on the Tidal stage.
Pusha T. The 20-year rap veteran born Terrence Thornton who, along with his brother Gene, made his name as one half of The Clipse, threw down with the classic Hell Hath No Fury in 2006. Since his brother became a born-again Christian and changed his stage name from “Malice” to “No Malice,” Pusha has been a solo artist affiliated with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, most recently with last year’s Darkest Before Dawn. His newest, King Push, is due in September. 4:15 p.m. Sunday on the Rocky stage.
Little Dragon. The Swedish pop quartet fronted by singer Yukimi Nagano make slinky, stylish music that draws on 1980s Minneapolis funk and meshes nicely with hip-hop, as indicated by Nagano’s many guest sports with rappers like Big Boi and De La Soul. Their latest is the snappy synth-pop soiree Season High. 5:45 p.m. Sunday on the Rocky stage.
Wizkid. The Nigerian Justin Bieber? Twenty-seven-year-old Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun has been tagged with that label as the smooth, Afrobeat-inflected pop singer has found a mass audience, collaborating with Canadian rapper Drake on “One Dance” and “Come Closer,” and Major Lazer and Dua Lipa on the party starter “My Love.” 6:15 p.m. Sunday on the Tidal stage.
Run the Jewels. The once unlikely seeming interracial tandem of rapper-producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike have now released a trio of hard-hitting justly acclaimed eponymous albums, the latest being last year’s Run the Jewels 3. Also expect the band’s performance to be one of the most politically charged of the fest: Killer Mike was an outspoken surrogate campaigner for Bernie Sanders during the presidential primary season last year. 6:30 p.m. Sunday on the Liberty stage.