I’ve actually seen this documentary on Showtime three times since it has aired, but since I have the inability to disconnect, I kept watching without retaining. Today, I decided that I would finally sit myself down and pay attention. The laptop was closed – no notes were taken – and my phone was at the other end of the couch. The only hiccup I had in watching the doc today was an unexpected food coma that caused me to fall asleep in the middle of it for two hours and start back up again right after.
Picture this: an 8-year old me putting on my headphones and listening to “Hard Knock Life” for the first time on our shared CD player. My brother wasn’t as involved with the music industry as I was, but he basically taught me everything I know about hip hop and R&B. I like to think that my childhood wasn’t as standard as everyone else’s. I was a small child growing up with Tupac and Biggie and I’m sure that the parents of my peers found that quite inappropriate, but when it comes to my music, I was pretty serious and my parents knew that me rapping out these lyrics without me knowing the meanings was harmless.
If there’s ever an industry that has always felt the need to defend themselves, it is the music industry. There are so many ideas behind it that people can’t bring themselves to understand or ignorantly make judgments about, but make no mistake – music is powerful. It is always evolving and that’s what Jay Z wanted to highlight in this documentary – that we can now hold festivals with lineups from varying genres. It’s a step in the right direction and years and years ago, this would not have been possible. Another thing that I found myself enjoying about this doc is how it featured the people behind the scenes – the vendors, backstage, all the people that help make this festival happen without any name recognition whatsoever. Working a music festival is not easy. As an attendee, you pay for your ticket that you saved up for a couple of weeks maybe and prepare yourself for a show you’re ready to enjoy. Do you know that the people that love this festival the most work so hard during the day and night to make it happen that they can’t enjoy the acts themselves? They are the ones preparing your food, testing the sound two-three hours prior to a set, moving the heavy equipment backstage, keeping the lineup and schedule on track, and cleaning up every night after you leave so that when you arrive the next morning, you don’t have to look at the trash that was left behind. It’s the little things. The next time you attend one, make sure to give thanks.
Philly is so lucky to have Made In America, but they truly deserve it. Jay-Z, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer did a tremendous job on this documentary. If you haven’t seen it on Showtime yet, make sure you save yourself some time to.