(Photos: Josh Sobel)
“This feels like my homecoming,” Meek Mill humbly says into the microphone Friday while taking the stage at Made in America. A seemingly endless crowd flooded the Benjamin Franklin Parkway all in support of their hometown hero’s return. Among them, Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embidd and Ben Simmons.
Meek Mill was not the headliner, but he was by far the most anticipated artist this weekend on the main stage. When Meek took the stage, purposefully situated in front of the infamous “Rocky Steps,” his jewelry reflected light back into the sea of people. Similar to how a bruised and bloody Rocky rose his hands in victory, Meek, after becoming a target of an unjust judicial system, rose his hands to celebrate his city and his comeback.
The city of brotherly love is known for eccentric fandom in support of their teams and artists. Almost a third of festival attendees were wearing 76ers or Eagles jerseys. Philadelphia might have a new artist to champion.
The festival’s opener, Armani White, was born and raised in West Philadelphia. “It feels good to be apart of the new wave, reshaping Philly’s sound and breathing life back into the city,” White said after his set on the Skate Stage. White’s full band – which included backup vocals and a brass section staged a performance that initiated crowd participation. White showcased a range of impressive mic skills while tossing fistfulls of fruit snacks into the crowd.
Friday morning was his first festival set, but it didn’t take long for him to return to the stage. Later that afternoon, White joined Louis Futon during his set to perform their track “Rewind” on the Freedom Stage. The following day he returned to the Freedom Stage for a song with Lophiile.
Philadelphia might be losing Made in America next year, but this year the city showed love to its local acts.