Many people don't get a chance to see what goes on behind-the-scenes at Hot 97's Annual Summer Jam concert. This year, I had the opportunity to go behind the velvet rope at one of the biggest concerts in the world, with one of the biggest controversies of the year unfolding right before my eyes.
Yesterday afternoon, Lil' Wayne sent out a tweet announcing "Young Money ain't doing Summer Jam". The HOT 97 lineup was heavy with YMCMB artists and affiliates, including Nicki Minaj, DJ Khaled, Busta Rhymes, and Tyga. Drake and Birdman were also rumored to be coming out as surprise performers. Tyga was on stage at the time the news broke, and word began spreading around the artist backstage area like wildfire. DJ Khaled was already in the building, as well as many of both Khaled and Nicki Minaj's special guests. In an instant, the feel-good energy of a family reunion began to feel like complete confusion.
Fat Joe and T-Pain were suppose to perform alongside DJ Khaled, and Beenie Man and Movado alongside Nicki Minaj. All four artists were in the artist green room with a look of disbelief on their faces. Were they going to perform or not? T-Pain was visibly peeved and stormed out of the green room when it was confirmed that Nicki would not be performing. DJ Khaled was in business mode and seemed as if he was on the fence about performing. After holding a secret, closed-door meeting with his people right before he was scheduled to go on, he decided to side with Lil' Wayne and not perform.
After the initial shock of the controversy settled in, there was an even bigger main attraction making his way down the halls backstage, that was about to soak in all of the attention. Former Bad Boy artist Mason "Ma$e" Betha was strutting down the hall surrounded by his Harlem World crew of Cardan and Suga J, and looking very much like the Ma$e of old. Swagged out in a blue NY Giants snap back cap to the back and a metallic blue baseball jacket, Ma$e was hard to miss.
French Montana, Fat Joe, Wale, Big Sean, DJ Khaled, and Rick Ross came out of their green rooms and into the hallway to greet the Harlem rapper, who had not touched the Hot 97 Summer Jam stage since 1998! At that moment, Ma$e was definitely your "favorite rapper's favorite rapper," as all of the artists proceeded to take photos with Ma$e and show an extreme amount of love for him. Ma$e would later come out with French Montana and Wale to perform the "Slight Work" remix.
Bronx-bred rapper French Montana's green room was the place to be during the show. Many of the artists congregated to Montana's green room where the rapper, who was decked out in a gold scarf draped over his head and a matching jacket, was in a joyful mood laughing and cracking jokes. Montana seemed to bring everyone together, as 2Chainz, Future, Wale, and Rick Ross crowded around him and tried to soak in his positive energy.
Noticeably missing from the green room area was Meek Mill, who was spotted walking the hallways with a small posse of his friends. Young Jeezy was also kept away from this area, with one industry insider telling me that they were trying to keep him and Rick Ross as separate as possible.
Busta Rhymes, who is notorious for not being very friendly with the media, was in no mood to take photos. His security guard was seen aggressively yelling at several unsuspecting photographers who tried to snap photos of Bussa Buss after he made his way back to the green room after his performance. Check out the photo above with Busta's security guy trying to block the shot.
Nas was seen getting carted around in a go-cart backstage right before he was set to hit the stage. HOT 97 scrambled to set up a performance time for Nas and Lauryn Hill who had shown up at the stadium ready to perform as part of Nicki Minaj's set. The radio station quickly salvaged the situation and had them perform their own set, to the surprise and glee of the fans. Lauryn Hill was escorted directly to the stage and back to her waiting vehicle before and after their set.
Waka Flocka Flame performed early on in the show's lineup, and was spotted walking around the green room area after his performance telling his entourage that he "killed it" on stage.
Overall, the setting of the Met Life Stadium, and the artist green rooms being in the player's lockerrooms, gave the whole night a feeling of watching athletes prepare for the All-Star game. They were all excited to be there, and even though one of the star players - aka Nicki Minaj and one of their star coaches aka DJ Khaled - could not perform in the big game, everyone still came out and played their hardest!
Being backstage at Hot 7's Summer Jam revealed that there is indeed a lot of camaraderie going on in Hip-Hop right now. Artists these days are loyal to one another, even if that means breaking the hearts of 60,000 fans like Nicki Minaj and Khaled did. But in the end, Rick Ross and MMG, along with French Montana and special guests Raekwon and Method Man, closed out the show and helped the crowd forget about what could have been, and reminded them that the show must go on.
Check out a few exclusive shots from backstage at Summer Jam 2012 courtesy of our boy J.D. at Thelifefiles.com: