Jay-Z finished his first day of his Made In America festival with a little help from his friends and a message from President Obama.
“Thank you Jay-Z for letting me crash your show,” the president said in a pre-taped message on Saturday (Sept. 1). He appeared on the screen after Jay-Z warmed up the crowd with a snatch of his song “Made In America” from Watch The Throne. (Frank Ocean, who is a featured guest on the song, was not in attendance.)
The president went on to praise Jay-Z for rising above his humble beginnings and said others could also be like Jay, who is, the president was careful to point out, “on my iPod.” He urged the crowd to be sure to register and vote for the upcoming election. The message carried special significance here, as Pennsylvania has passed strict photo identification laws that create an extra barrier to the ballot.
When the politicking was finished Jay-Z turned up the hits, including crowd favorites such as “Big Pimpin’,” “Jigga My N****,” “99 Problems” and more.
Jay-Z wears duel hats as the festival’s lead act and its promoter, through Roc Nation and in conjunction with Budweiser. While there were some small logistical snafus concerning the amount of security on hand for the event, the first day appeared to be a major success.
Earlier in the day, a mixed bag of artists performed, including D’Angelo, Janelle Monae, Skrillex and more. But Jay-Z was the main attraction for this big day in Philly.
At one point in the show, Jay held up the set to pay homage to the host city.
“I have a love affair with Philly,” he said. “We made some great music in Philly.”
Cue former Roc-A-Fella rap crew State Property, including Young Chris, Neef Buck and Freeway, who hit their hometown stage with gusto. To further solidify the Roc-A-Fella connection, Memphis Bleek popped up on stage to back Jigga, as he did in the Roc’s heyday. Freeway joined Jay-Z for the aggressive street anthem, “What We Do.” Blatantly missing from the track, and the reunion, was the voice of Beanie Sigel, who recently was sent to an early jail cell after an arrest for gun possession and drugs charges.
Outside of the Roc crew, Swizz Beatz made an assist for “On To The Next One,” a track he produced for The Blueprint 3. While rumors of a possible Beyonce-Jay collabo performance buzzed about the crowd, Jay’s pop star wife never showed. However, he did forfeit a large chunk of his show to the G.O.O.D. Music collective, including Kanye West, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Pusha T and Common.
After the G.O.O.D Music set, Kanye and Jay-Z ran through “N***as In Paris,” a song that has become their signature arena closer while on the Watch The Throne tour. With a champagne toast, the two rappers exited the stage as fireworks flashed in the sky and left faces in the crowd aglow.