SummerJam 2008: reinventing itself once again

SummerJam has always been one of the greatest live shows of all time. In 2008 Hot 97 might have just outdone itself thou. Mixing the old with the new, old school artists and the new school, already Platinum-selling, performers, it packed the Giants Stadium to full capacity. Last year the Rock the Bells series set a record with 40,000 fans on Randall’s Island for its concert. This year 50,000 people attended SummerJam. Those who got to see it you know exactly why. The others should peep these bylines:

The show barely began and Alicia Keys got on. Why make people wait to see the big stars at the end? Radiating her usual beauty she kept her smile on and energy level sky-high the entire time and served the fans with their first mixture of the old and the new. Bringing out Maino to do Hi, Haters was a treat. Now, when the favorite Wu-Tang trio got on next to her it was just beyond everyone’s imagination. Next to Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, the Chief she kept on rapping most their lines along with them. Of course, she didn’t forget her core fan base and did her classics and the latest mega hit, Noone.

Some of the other remarkable moments included: Kid Capri on the tables; Swizz Beatz on the mic, seemingly reunited and stronger than ever L.O.X. with Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch; LL Cool J getting his rap on; T-Pain showing off his dance moves, proving that the synthesizer is not the reason he always shows everyone a good time; DJ Khaled, Rick Ross and Akon bringing their power team with them; Jim Jones bringing out the whole Dipset with them with Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey, and no Cam-who?; and much more.

Lil Wayne did a long set, driving the crowd wild and acting surprisingly nice. Talking up all the support he received from people for just a moment he almost no longer seemed to be the cocky kid that he likes to be. Is it a part of getting older and understanding that it’s a good idea to thank fans at times? Did he finally begin to listen to his PR team? Perhaps he’s just been enjoying his success for so long that he can finally afford to stop and pause at times and just enjoy his triumph? Grabbing his nuts one too many times during the performance and bringing out the infamous styrofoam cup were just a few more things everyone expected. He mixed it up too. Getting on a guitar was a classy move, just showing people that he is an actual musician, not just a line-spitter. Doing a spoken word routine was the right thing to do, except the rhymes could have been a tad stronger. At this point it almost makes no difference what he does on stage. His shows are consistently sold out, his albums go Platinum before they even hit the shelves and his songs are on just about every major radio station all over the country.

Kanye’s show was more than a grandeur made to shatter earth. Ala Michael Jackson he is set to change the way people look at music entertainment. The most shocking thing is that he is doing it in an oversaturated market and without Michael’s voice. Still, entertainment is how it goes and Ye seems to just reign up there. His ’07 showdown with 50 Cent showed everyone who reins supreme and his Glow in the Dark tour instantly proved to be the yet unheard of on-stage extravaganza. At SummerJam he brought on the exact replica of his bit on that tour. It wasn’t the Flashing LightsPlayboy model Rita G who made it more unique. She barely appeared long enough to be noticed. It wasn’t even Mr. West’s usual energy of a true mega-star. The pyrotechnics were worthy of the 4th of July celebration in Times Square and the overall theatrics, with Hollywood-themed backup singers and various characters roaming on stage, made it into greater than an overpriced Broadway show. It made it into a timeless classic. Once again, Kanye simply outdid himself.

One other act deserves its own mention. Public Enemy performed in that line-up. What was amazing was the fact that one of the most anti-commercial acts performed in the most commercial concert of all times, organized by the most commercial Hip Hop radio station. There is no doubt that Chuck D didn’t change his world views and booked himself on that set. Hot 97 actually made a conscious effort to get one of the most respectable and gifted old school Hip Hop acts into the show mainly targeted to amuse kids. It wasn’t only Flava Flav’s theatrics or Professor Griff’s militant dress and act or even Chuck D’s mindful and though-provoking words. It was another piece of history orchestrated and it was a success.

Each SummerJam is great and different and bigger and better than ever. 2008 concert mixed the old and the new and provided an amazingly entertaining experience to all. One other worthy note to bring up is the fact that for the first time in 4 years it didn’t rain that day!

 

 

Dmitriy Goldin