10 Lifelong Fans Explain What JAY-Z Means For America

This feature was produced by The FADER and Budweiser.

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At JAY-Z’s music festival, you hear one name spoken far more than the rest: naturally, his own. As creator, curator, and headliner of the sixth-annual Budweiser Made In America festival, JAY-Z casts a shadow of influence not only over the performers who graced the stages, but on the thousands who came to witness the rapper in person.

There’s a lot to be said about how one man’s success in art and entrepreneurship can inspire the betterment of fans who look up to him. To those among the crowd, JAY-Z is revered for his lyrics, his ambition, and most importantly, his impact on his nation’s culture. Whether they wear homemade t-shirts bearing his face or have spent years internalizing his messages, being a JAY-Z fan feels personal.

Leading up to his festival-closing performance, The FADER connected with festival attendees to explore their thoughts on what JAY-Z’s legacy and career has meant for both the music world and America as a whole.


Chad Williams-Bey, 32, Baltimore, MD

Tyler Pride, 29, New York, NY

Priya Patel, 31, Richmond, VA

Varonda Varnado, 32, Waxahachie, TX

Gerald Brown, 28, Philadelphia, PA

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Kareem Clarke, 28, Brooklyn, NY

Brandon Owusu, 21, Yonkers, NY

Londyn Powell, 29, Elkridge, MD

Bhavesh Mehta, 33, Richmond, VA

Mary Varnado, 31, Lancaster, TX

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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