As controversy continues to rage in Philadelphia over rapper Meek Mill’s probation case — the city mayor’s office has moved to boot the popular Made in America festival created by Meek’s Roc Nation label founder Jay Z.
A rep for Philly Mayor Jim Kenney dropped a bombshell Tuesday that “This is the last year [the fest] will be held on the [Ben Franklin] Parkway.” That was apparently news to Jay Z and Roc Nation — as well as the concert’s promoter, Live Nation.
Jay Z fired back on Wednesday, revealing in a statement that the mayor’s office also tried to cancel this year’s fest — which will feature Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj and Post Malone, Sept. 1 and 2.
“We are disappointed that the Mayor… would evict us from the heart of the city, through a media outlet, without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue or proper communication,” the hip hop mogul wrote. “It signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city.”
He added, “In fact, this administration immediately greeted us with a legal letter trying to stop the 2018 event.”
Roc Nation COO Desiree Perez exclusively told us that she’d previously tried to reach out to the mayor’s office and never heard back before the city publicly said the fest would move. “I’d love to have a conversation,” she said. “We’re shocked. We couldn’t believe it. We don’t have a clue about the hostility we’ve received.”
Jay Z said the minority-owned fest that’s included Rihanna, Kanye West and Pearl Jam, has brought $102.8 million to the city, paid $3.4 million in rent and employed thousands.
Reports said that Made in America’s five-year contract ended in 2017 and was renewed for one year.
A rep for the mayor told Philly.com: “When the festival first started, it was intended to provide a unique attraction to the city on the otherwise quiet Labor Day weekend… Over the years, tourism has grown… and the need for an event of this scale at this location may no longer be necessary.”
Jay Z asked in his statement, which he released as an op-ed to the website, “How does an administration merely discard an event that generates millions … and employs the city’s people as if we are disposable now that we have served our purpose?”
Some music fans speculated the city might be targeting a hip-hop-heavy lineup. “Roc Nation got a call that the administration wanted to see this year’s lineup,” which Roc Nation refused, a source said. “What does that have to do with the city?”
The Mayor called the issue a “misunderstanding” and said in a statement to Page Six: “The City of Philadelphia supports the Made in America festival and is greatly appreciative of all that it has done for Philadelphia. We are committed to its continued success and thank them for their partnership. We hope to be able to resolve what has been an unfortunate misunderstanding. We are working with Roc Nation and Live Nation to resolve this issue and we are committed to continuing our partnership with the Made in America festival.”