Recap: HOT 97′s Summer Jam 2012
I attended my first ever Summer Jam concert yesterday, the legendary annual event held by New York radio station HOT 97.
Let’s get straight to the biggest debacle of the night, the Nicki Minaj no-show. It appeared Nicki wasn’t in the best mood from earlier in the day, as she publicly (and not-so-subliminally) lambasted (via her Twitter account) two bloggers for taking pics on her stage as it was being set up for rehearsal. Word later started to filter through Metlife Stadium—ironically during labelmate Tyga‘s set—that Nicki, advised by mentor Lil Wayne, had decided not to perform at all. The reason for this? Well, HOT 97 morning show host Peter Rosenberg, who is very well-known for his purist stance on hip-hop, said (while introducing Kendrick Lamar to the smaller festival stage): “We’re all about that real hip-hop. I know there are some chicks in here waiting to sing along with ‘Starships’ later. I’m not talking to y’all right now. F*ck that bullshit.” Apparently Weezy caught wind of this and pulled the plug on his Young Money queen’s show, which was set to feature incredible guest appearances from Beenie Man, Cam’ron, Foxy Brown and Nas and Lauryn Hill, the latter two who provided the most nostalgic (and arguably best) moment of the night with their inspiring surprise performance. Meanwhile, Nicki took to yukking it up with Cam, Foxy, Beenie and more at a Manhattan restaurant, tweeting away like she had not a care in the world.
There’s a wider discussion to be had about Nicki’s decision (and Wayne’s support) but it’s hard to argue that 50,000 fans weren’t cheated of an historic performance (one that many paid hundreds of dollars for). Was it worth it? This remains to be seen. HOT 97′s other big names, especially Funkmaster Flex, are being as loyal to Rosenberg as Wayne was to Nicki, so it looks like there’s no fear of him losing his job over his remarks (and once again, his hardline stance on “real” hip-hop is renown). Wayne’s “orders” also meant legends like Busta Rhymes didn’t make it to the stage. Think about that for a second: a New York rhyme legend was a no-show because his younger boss from New Orleans said so. It’s all very mind-boggling and reflective of the clusterf*ck that is hip-hop in 2012.
Aside from the drama, the other standout performances of the night came from Young Jeezy (who seemed to somehow realize he could seize kingpin status of the night if he embraced the crowd wholeheartedly while running through his strong catalog, which he did with gusto), Big Sean (whose Detroit steez, colorful delivery and genuine humility combined with lyrical bravado have allowed him to be the most entertaining act from the emerging set) and 2 Chainz, who had the house rocking every time he stepped on the stage. All in all it was a fun night, not totally marred by Nicki’s incident but definitely a refection on the state of the game today.