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Jay-Z's Made in America Festival in Philadelphia Isn't About Charity


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This weekend thousands of people have descended upon the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia for the Made in America Festival, which is sponsored by Budweiser, and organized by superstar hip hop artist Jay Z.

The concert features three stages and thirty different artists including Pearl Jam, Drake, Run DMC, The Hives, and of course Jay Z.

They even had a surprise guest stop by last night in Kanye West, who performed a seven-song encore.

On paper the Made in America concert is a great idea. The word is they may look to turn this music fest into another Lollapalooza or Coachella. As to whether it will take place in Philly once again is up in the air.  

Lost in all of the excitement and hoopla is the 20,000 pound elephant sitting in the room. And, I'm talking about Jay Z's enormous wealth and his contributions to charity, or the lack therof. 

There are reports that he only donated a little over $6,000 to his own charity in 2010, the Sean Carter Scholarship Foundation. According to tax records, he earned $63 million that year. And, there is evidence that his wife Beyonce didn't donate a single dime to the charity in 2010, while raking in over $80 million! It is particularly ugly when there isn't any evidence that he or his wife made any charitable contributions that year aside from the 6k he put towards the charity.

Jay Z has also been criticized by Public Enemy star Chuck D for his materialism and Harry Belafonte for his failure to "do more."

In Jay Z's defense, I will say that after doing some digging around I was able to find out that he once donated $25,000 to Mary J. Blige's charity FFAWN.

He also performed at a concert this past December at Carnegie Hall, with some proceeds benefiting his own charity and the United Way.

In any event, it's clear that a man with Jay Z's enormous wealth should be putting out more than just a few grand to his own charity and performing a charity concert once in a while. His wealth is estimated to be over $450 million.

Some people suggest that this should be a free concert. Personally, I have mixed feelings about that. Lollapalooza isn't free. Coachella isn't free as well. 

I do think that Jay Z could have financed this venture himself, rather than seeking out Budweiser as a sponsor. Although it was announced that a couple hundred thousand dollars from the show's proceeds will benefit United Way operations in New York, Philadelphia, and Lancaster, some of Philadelphia's struggling inner city schools or impoverished areas in the state of Pennsylvania would also benefit greatly from any semblance of the show's proceeds.

Tickets for the Made in America event range from $75 to $150, depending on whether you get a single day or two-day pass.

Jay Z is said to be performing at this festival for free.

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com

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Photo of Jay Z and Michael Nutter from billboard.biz