This may read altogether quite differently from your typical That Grape Juice post. However, we’re excited to have teamed up with BACARDI to give you a behind the scenes look at our journey to the 2014 Made In America Festival in the City of Angels, Los Angeles.
As we type, it’s August 29th 2014 and we’re sitting in London, Heathrow en route to LA for the festivities.
Long time TGJ readers will know we love our ladies – so we’re amped to see Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora do their thing – especially given buzz for their current hit ‘Black Widow’. What’s more, as many times as we’ve “seen” Kanye West in the flesh, we’ve yet to “see” him perform live. A fact which makes the titillation that much…titillating! Then, of course, there’s Kendrick Lamar – who’s headlining the first day of the extravaganza. We’ve been sworn to relative secrecy, but we’re hearing that his hotly anticipated new album (due later this year) is packing heat of dizzying degrees. So, we’re keen to see whether he rocks LA Grand Park with new material. After all, in recent times he’s developed quite the penchant of sorts for hitting folk with the “new-new” when they least expect it (see: ‘Control’ verse).
Anyway, phones away. We’re up, up and away. See you in LA!
TGJ Was Here
As the opening of this feature highlighted, when we set sail on our trip to LA, the “plan” was to share our experience in a regimented format. Think “Day One, Day Two, Day Three”.
However, as TGJ’s Patrick and I arrived at the entrance gates for the Made In America Festival, it quickly became apparent that “structure” wouldn’t form the basis of was to be quite an experience.
For, beyond the huge signs that WELCOME/d us (literally, yet warmly), we peeped a spectacle that was rich in variety. Indeed, from fashion, to race, to gender, to the various accents overheard, the crowd Made In America commanded bled dynamic diversity; a fact that will have founder Jay Z brushing his shoulders off with a wink and a smile. But, we’ll get to that shortly.
Where To Go, What To Do?
For this year’s festivities, L.A Grand Park was set up like a fun-fair of sorts. The stages, which each provided the thrill of a roller-coaster ride, were stationed within respectable distance of one another. A setup that made bouncing from one to the other an easy and strangely enjoyable feat.
And bounce folk did. Almost like ping-pongs. The whole process was rendered even more fun in light of the stylised names each stage had been christened. Indeed, there was a juvenile enjoyment to be sourced from racing to the Marylyn stage…then to the James Dean stage…to the Dylan stage.
Beyond this, one of the many characteristics of Made In America that warmed us most was how engrossed attendees were in all that was going on. A point particularly notable given the sonic differences of the acts assembled to form this year’s bill. Indeed, it became routine to see folk rocking out to a Rap act to run over to fist-pump to an EDM DJ on the next stage. Kumbaya sounding, perhaps, but it really reminded us how powerful music is an agent to unite us as people – something we since learned creator Jay Z set out to achieve with the festival. It’s particularly noteworthy, because as a figure whose triumphs has transcended beyond the Hip-Hop arena, it’s almost as if – with Made In America – the mogul has cultivated a spectacle that mirrors the diversity of his own success narrative.
Given the super-stacked bill, we had a clear idea of whom we wanted to see. After all, for as much alternative talent we were able to soak in, we were keen to vibe out to TGJ music!
And vibe we did.
Say what folk will, but Iggy Azalea delivered a commendable set for a freshmen performer. ‘Fancy’ naturally got the crowd “turnt up”, but given that the anthem was smartly placed at the end of her set, it essentially forced the thousands in attendance to pay attention what else she served up. And what exactly did she “serve up”? Sass, braggadocio, and a headline-grabbing kiss with Rita Ora.
Conversely, Kendrick Lamar had his hometown crowd in the palm of his hand. The Compton native journeyed through his growing, yet potent discography with engaging ease. Yet, more notably, he did so with the clear understanding of how to entertain a crowd. And while the set was received exceptionally, the deafening roars of applause for ‘Poetic Justice’ and his ‘Control’ verse easily relayed what folk enjoyed most.
Closing the action-packed extravaganza was the incomparable Kanye West. And that’s by no means a description riddled with rhetoric. There, quite literally, isn’t a performer like controversial Kanye.
For, while late by almost an hour (naturally), the superstar wordsmith delivered a dynamite set; one that was highly stylised and sewed together concepts that rarely feature in Hip-Hop showings. Visuals of the ethereal pervaded the performance, which also boasted luminous lighting. Juxtaposed against the dark Los Angeles sky, it made for a stunning climax.
And though not the last song performed, something about Yeezy’s ‘Good Life’ showing – at that place and that time – resonated with us. As we stood there, we begun to think about how “good” Kanye’s show was, how “good” the entire weekend was, and how “good” it felt to be there amidst fellow music lovers. The song playing wasn’t just the soundtrack to a rapper’s ‘Good Life’…it was the soundtrack to ours too!
Wait, there’s something in it for you too!
Enjoyed reading about our LA experience? Well, you could be heading out on one of your own!
We’re giving YOU our readers the chance to win a trip of a lifetime to Bermuda courtesy of BACARDI! As ardent lovers of music That Grape Juice and BACARDI have paired up to give you the chance to attend a once in a lifetime musical experience. In honor of the year of their creation (1862), BACARDI are sending 1862 guests to the Bermuda Triangle for a 3-day/cross-genre music spectacle featuring Kendrick Lamar, Calvin Harris, and Ellie Goulding.
Want to enter the sweepstakes? We thought as much! Enter below…