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Hot 97’s Summer Jam XX: A Celebration of History, A Lesson In Time

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Hot 97’s Ebro Darden has vehemently proclaimed in the past..Summer Jam is the Headliner. That was evident from the outset of Hot 97’s 20th Summer Jam.

Joe Budden ran through a mix of songs from his new album No Love Lost but ultimately receiving the largest reaction to his classic 2003 single “Pump It Up” which is as infectiously racucous live then as it is as now.

Wale, decked in a hoodie Oddly performed Lotus Flower Bomb did not have Miguel, the following performer on stage to do it together, a technique that was common in the majority of the following acts.

Miguel was the obvious gem of the early Summer Jam set was Miguel with guest appearances from Mariah Carey and J. Cole. “Power Trip” is a hit and the near hypnotic chant of the chorus by the entire crowd proved that.

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Chris Brown, accompanied with dancers dressed in suits that are a cross of Blue Man’s Group and Daft Punk, put on an intricate light show and exhibited amazing dancing skills.

Fabolous kept his set strictly new hits but did bring back Queen Bee Lil Kim:

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At the end of Fab’s set he asked “What more can we do?” indicating he had more songs to perform. However, his set suddenly ended to the vocal disapproval from a concert goers.

Wu-Tang Clan performing on Summer Jam met with spots of disinterested fans but quickly turned into their usual madhouse scene, most noticeably when M-E-T-H-O-D Man began wrecking “Method Man”.


Microphone issues popped up sporadically throughout and lasted surprisingly long, at one point rending Joell Ortiz’s entire “Hammer Dance” verse silent. The most glaring was the missed opportunity of the return of Nicki Minaj to the stage as she silently crept onto the stage during 2 Chainz’s set causing a delayed standing ovation for the curvaceous MC.

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Before performing, A$AP Rocky put on his label CEO hat and did some damage control of A$AP Ferg’s disparaging remarks at Teyana Taylor earlier in the day at Summer Jam’s Festival Village restating the entire A$AP crew’s support of Teyana Taylor. Then proceeded to decimate the stage.

As Summer Jam has been advising for years, “Rain or Shine The Show Goes On”. The rain was expected by the majority of the crowd who continued to rock on with the A$AP Mob general as he finished with the return of 2 Chainz and emergence of Kendrick Lamar for “F*cking Problem” with no Drake.

Kendrick performed good kid, m.A.A.d city jams “Money Trees” and “Backseat Freestyle”.  Once “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe” came on, chatter began to start if this is where Jay-Z, who was at Summer Jam with Beyonce would make his rumored appearance. He did not but Schoolboy Q’s performance of his single “Yay Yay” created a mini mosh pit amongst the A$AP Mob members. This prompted Kendrick to  seemingly impromptu bring out the entire A$AP Mob and TDE to deliver the most raucuous on-stage moment on Summer Jam as he closed out with “m.A.A.d. city”.

This is a crystallization of the best of what Summer Jam can be. Organic and memorable.

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The audience expected rain. The audience expected Nicki Minaj. The audience expected a phenomenal show. The audience did not expect Papoose to songbomb the Summer Jam stage in between Kendrick’s and French Montana’s sets, going largely unrecognized until screaming “Free Remy”.

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Since Summer Jam is the headliner its final performance is usually not indicative of the best performance. However, French Montana had the crowd in the palm of his hands from the first squeaks of “I’m A Coke Boy” throughout “Ochocinco” and then culminating with “Pop That”.

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During “Pop That” the night’s biggest surprise guest arrived decked in Trukfit and injected the crowd with an energy that was reminiscent of this previous Summer Jam performances:

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Once Lil Wayne walked off stage, with the crowd in a frenzy (French’s DJ) smartly transitioned to French’s latest single “Aint Worried About Nuting” which caused the entire stadium to have the single loudest ovation of the night. Then It was cut off and Summer Jam ended.

Overall, Hot 97’s 20th Summer Jam was good and contained more than its share of wow moments. The DJ sets from Mister Cee, Funkmaster Flex and others were great but they at times ended up overlapping each other with similar song choices. The pacing of the show was noticably off with certain performers indicating more songs but suddenly leaving the stage tot he chagrin of a portion of the audience.

Still a great time and the next twenty years are going to be intriguing for Summer Jam.

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