What’s better than going into work on a Sunday? Watching Jay Z close out Made in America. “Oh, it’s gonna be a special night tonight,” Hov told the crowd; and indeed it was. After a mud and rain-filled Day 1 at MIA, Day 2 promised sunshine and clear skies. A star-studded weekend with performances from Vic Mensa, 21 Savage, Cardi B and many more, reached a climax when Jay Z took the stage. Performing in front of a giant Jeff Koons balloon dog, Hov brought out Damian Marley with “Bam” and the party began.
Throughout the show Jay Z time traveled through classics past-and-present, revisiting the Black Album with “PSA” and The Blueprint with “Heart of the City;” before performing the Frank Ocean featured “Caught Their Eyes,” from 4:44. Jay Z consistently reaffirms his greatness by putting his skill on display, but what truly sets him apart is the humility he keeps, even with his transcendent aura.
In the middle of the performance Jay Z took a moment to acknowledge Houston and the disaster Hurricane Harvey caused. “We hope you can hear us, Houston you in our prayers, we with you H-town,” he offered, as he silenced the crowd in a moment of reflection. Jay Z then ended the set by having the crowd sing “Happy Birthday” to Beyoncé before running off abruptly.
As the crowd walked away in a bittersweet stutter, stage lights turned back on by the exit. Some turned around in curiosity, others continued to walk off. Suddenly, music was blaring and Jay Z ran out performing “Hola Hovito” and “Allure.” Everyone came sprinting back. This (second) final act was strictly for the hardcore fans, even spotted Jadakiss taking in this moment as he performed only his B-side hits.
The unexpected encore would’ve been more than a satisfying end to the night, but Jay Z had one more surprise to spoil his fans with. All weekend long fans were asking about Meek Mills’ whereabouts since MIA was in his hometown of Philly –and within a flash he stormed the stage performing “Dreams & Nightmares” alongside Jay.
Jay Z said during his performance that Made in America was his favorite musical festival, and having experienced it firsthand; I must say I share the same opinion. Already looking forward to next year, but next time I’ll be prepared and know not to bring new clothes. RIP to my sneakers.
Story By Alec Tavares
Photography by Set Free aka The Black Peter Parker