In an op-ed published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday, rapper and mogul Jay-Z let it be known that he was none too happy about the city of Philadelphia’s decision to “evict” his six-year-old Made in America Festival for 2019.
This September will be the last Made in America Festival if Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has his way, saying that the costs have made the annual festival which has had headliners such as Beyonce, Rihanna, Kanye West and even Bill Clinton, cost prohibitive, though Variety reports that half of the fees are covered by Jay’s Roc Nation company. The mayor, who was elected in 2016, also cites congestion as an issue.
Adding insult to injury, the rapper says that the way in which Mayor Kenney put the festival on pause was most egregious (and probably disrespectful if he were being really frank):
“We are disappointed that the mayor of the city of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city, through a media outlet, without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue, or proper communication,” he writes. “It signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city. In fact, this administration immediately greeted us with a legal letter trying to stop the 2018 event.”
Being the businessman he is, Jay (born Shawn Corey Carter), notes how much dinero the event brings into the city, the number of jobs it has created, and underscores the fact that it is one of very few “minority-owned” music festivals in the world:
Since 2012, Made in America, one of the only minority-owned festivals, has had a positive $102.8 million economic impact to Philadelphia, and the festival has paid $3.4 million in rent to the city. Made in America employs more than 1,000 Philadelphians each day and 85 percent of our partners are Philadelphia-based companies.
We have studies and reports that prove the festival significantly contributes to Philadelphia’s tourism bottom line. We cannot comment if the mayor has reviewed any of these materials.
Jay then took the decision to nix the festival straight to the mayor, calling it a “failure” on his part, and asking the pertinent questions of hizzoner: “Is this an accurate representation of how he and his administration treat partners that economically benefit his city? Do they regularly reject minority-owned businesses that want to continue to thrive and grow alongside his city’s people?”
How does an administration merely discard an event that generates millions in income and employs the city’s people as if we are disposable now that we have served our purpose? The city is right in one respect; the first Made in America festival took place when there was a great need for tourism. By their admission, the festival first started as a “unique attraction to the city on an otherwise quiet Labor Day weekend. Over the years, tourism has grown overall.
Our question is, “How do you think that tourism grew, Mayor Kenney?”
At the end of the piece, Jay ends if not ominously, then definitely on some this-ain’t-over-ish:
“We will discuss our options internally and handle accordingly.”