While Drake and company filed out, I hung back to catch up with 2 Chainz. Worried about the crowd spotting him, the 6-foot-5 rapper darted up the famous Rocky steps and hid behind a pillar until Drake segued into “No Lie.” The crowd went bananas as Tity Boi took the stage, performing his verse then his hit “Spend It” before heading immediately back on the road to make a D.C. performance later that night.
Drake proclaimed, “Now THAT’S how you bring out 2 Chainz!,” referencing the technical difficulties that left 2 Chainz with a faulty mic for his “Mercy” performance the night before.
As Drake finished the rest of his set, I looked out over the crowd of thousands–of all ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds–and recalled a conversation I’d had earlier in the day with a friend of Jay’s. The corporate attorney brought his two sons to Philly because they’re all fans of the music. When I told him my favorite song was “Juicy,” the 40-something Long Island native expertly rapped all the lyrics then shared with me his philosophy on life. “I’m just a regular guy. I worked hard and I do well for myself. I feel very fortunate that I’m able to do the things I do, so I know I have a responsibility to give back.”
Instantly, “Made In America” came back to me. By all stretches of the imagination, Shawn Carter isn’t supposed to be Jay-Z. He was supposed to be incarcerated or worse. Instead, he’s redefined what’s possible, not just for the hood, for everyone. It made me proud, of him, of Hip-Hop and of everyone who can continue to put aside personal stereotypes and just enjoy the music.
Frank put in best: Sweet Jesus, we made it in America.–JasFly (@JasFly)