Summer Jam – New York radio station Hot 97's annual celebration of hip-hop and R&B – is just getting under way at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The concert series, historically never short on big surprises, will be live-blogged here, so keep checking back for updates.
Earlier in the day, the smaller 'Festival Stage' – in the stadium's parking lot, essentially – saw performances from the likes of Iggy Azalea, Chinx Drugz, Mack Wilds, Childish Gambino, August Alsina, Jhene Aiko and Nipsey Hussle. The crowd was relatively thin for this part of the day's festivities, with many attendees preferring to amble about the premises.
6:30 pm EST: There is barely a single person inside the Mets Stadium.
Sevyn Streeter is first performer of the night. Dressed in a denim ensemble, she's flanked by two wiry dancers. There are few people in the stadium yet, though. Her second song is "It Won't Stop," featuring Chris Brown. While Breezy isn't here, she pays homage with a dance choreographed to "Loyal."
Sevyn exits after a short and Aarabmuzik does a short routine – maybe 45 seconds, total -- on his Akai MPC 4000. DJ Bobby Trends goes into a Dip Set...set.
6:43 pm EST: Troy Ave comes out to a video dissing Trinidad James. His BSB crew comes out with him. He does one song that nobody seems to know, then goes into "Show Me Love," which garners a better reaction. The crowd is still very thin.
Not many realized until later that T.I. came on stage briefly during Troy Ave's set.
6:50 pm EST: Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds come on stage and introduce Action Bronson. The Queens MC is in a long white T-shirt and blue shorts. He slowly engages the crowd in his rapid fire flow. "Pepe Lopez," one of his better known songs, goes over well, before the deceptively agile rapper jumps onto a speaker, barefoot.
He slides off the stage into the crowd, standing on chairs as he raps "Strictly 4 My Jeeps" in the middle of the audience. Everyone is surrounding him, taking photos
Bronson grabs someone's blunt in the crowd and smokes it, before making his way out of the pit.
7:10 pm EST: Wiz Khalifa comes on stage, smoking a spliff – backed by a DJ, guitarist, drummer and keyboardist. The front section, now finally filled out, is all flailing hands and elbows. One of the most energetic rappers in the game, people are – ostensibly – turning up. "Work Hard, Play Hard," gets a great crowd response, as Wiz starts head-banging – dreadlocks flailing.
He spits his verse from "23," with Miley Cyrus vocals playing in the background – which the crowd sings along with. Snoop Dogg comes on stage to "The Next Episode," wearing a sweater emblazoned with the Yankees logo. They go into their duet, "Young, Wild and Free," which it seems everyone knows the words to.
Wiz closes his set with his new hit, "We Dem Boyz," shirtless.
7:30 pm EST: Mister Cee goes into a Notorious B.I.G. set. "I want to hear you sing this word for word, so BIG can hear you in heaven," Cee implores as "Notorious Thugs" plays. He then moves on to other 90s classics. "This is how hip-hop used to sound, before it went ratchet," he yells. Crowd screams in agreement.
He plays Tupac "Hit Em Up," then cuts it off. "You know who I rep... You saw the movie Notorious," he says after playing Biggie's "Warning."
Mister Cee continued... he goes into a handful of southern records after 90s set, showing he's not stuck in the past.
7:49 pm EST: The Roots take the stage. This is an odd choice for a Summer Jam stage, considering Hot 97 has never really played Roots records – but we get it, they're The Roots. The crowd doesn't seem to be into it, though. It might have to do with a lack of familiarity with the material and technical difficulties. "Make some noise," Black Thought implores, but nobody does.
7:55 pm EST: Black Thought introduces The Lox, who receive a loud applause. The Roots back them on group and solo cuts like "Wild Out," "All About the Benjamins," "We Gon’ Make It," "Money, Power, Respect." The New York crowd eats it up.
8:00 pm EST: Roots perform "The Next Movement," before introducing M.O.P., who perform "Ante Up." (Lil' Fame has lost a ton of weight.) The intro to Black Sheep's "The Choice is Yours," kicks in and Dres comes on stage to an applause from the old heads, a sizable contingent.
DJ J. Period and Jeremy Ellis go into a mixed DJ/live producer routine. Ellis is a master of the beat machine. The crowd watches him, stunned. The Roots exit.
8:10 pm EST: Mister Cee back DJing. "This is the South before the South," he screams before playing hits by Crime Mob, Juvenile, Outkast and others. The big screen at MetLife Stadium flashes to two girls making out. Crowd erupts in cheers.
8:22 pm EST: Hot 97 's on-air talent Angie Martinez, Miss Info and DJ Enuff take a selfie with the crowd to their back before introducing Trey Songz. He receives a warm reception, starts his set with "2 Reasons." "Can I slow it down for a second Summer Jam?" he asks, before going into a syrupy rendition of "Dive In."
Trey Songz continues... goes into a captivating performance of "Neighbors Know My Name," scatting along at the end, bringing the crowd into a frenzy. The beat to "Paranoid" drops and Ty Dolla $ign comes out. Considering how hot he is right now, the reception to him seems lukewarm, though the crowd undoubtedly knows the song
Trey Songz continues..... cues up Chris Brown's "Loyal" and leads the crowd in a sing-a-long. "Say free CB!" Trey commands, and the stadium recited it in unison. It seems Brown's got a ton of fans in attendance – Internet haters be damned. Trey goes into "Bottoms Up." No Nicki Minaj, but still a captivating performance; the band's extended arrangement adding much to an already powerful song.
8:45 pm EST: Trey Songs takes his shirt off – garnering the loudest reaction at Summer Jam thus far.
8:55 pm EST: DJ Camilo is DJ'ing, goes into a handful of popular club records. As a counterpoint to Mister Dee's aggressiveness, his set is more festive; he shows love to the five boroughs, as well as the large Caribbean and Latin contingent in attendance. Hip-hop is nothing if not diverse. The real New York – not the one you see on "Girls" – is here tonight.
9:13 pm EST: After a DJ set that perhaps ran too long, Nas enters the stage to "New York State of Mind." This is the 20-year anniversary of Nas' seminal debut LP, "Illmatic," and this performance was rumored to be in support of that; seems that way so far.
"It's been twenty years since this album came out," Nas says. "I went to the first Summer Jam. 1994. It was beautiful." He goes into "Life's A Bitch," pausing to the let the crowd finish some of his lines.
"Twenty fucking years, god damn." He goes into "Represent." His voice is surprisingly clear. Thus far, he sounds the best – the most comfortable – of any MC to take the stage tonight. "I sampled Michael Jackson," he says before "It Ain't Hard to Tell." "He cleared a sample for a young ni--a from Queens."
Nas next song is "The World is Yours." The "Illmatic" theme continues, and the crowd seems into it, but more in a way where they're observing, rather than partying. That's what happens when a legend is on stage.
He brings out Meek Mill, then French Montana. The crowd goes nuts for Frenchie. If New York has a dog in the rap race in 2014, Montana is obviously it.
More Nas.... He trades back and forth rhymes with Meek Mill while taking sips of Hennessy. Meek is rapping over the recorded lyrics of his songs, including "Dreams and Nightmares," and frankly it sounds more noisy than anything. Meek is great but he yells... a lot.
9:30 pm EST: French Montana comes back on during Meek's takeover of Nas' set to perform "Ain't Worried 'Bout Nothin'." Nas brings it back to his side for "Hate Me Now." "Real ni--as, middle finger in the air," Nas implores the crowd. It's more than "Illmatic," after all.
9:35 pm EST: 50 Cent comes onstage and "I Get Money" kicks in. The image of Nas and 50 Cent embracing, two former rap foes now united in solidarity, is extremely moving. Like seeing Nas and Jay Z together for the first time.
More 50... 50 goes into his set. Stage is filled with dudes now. It's officially a rap concert! "This is the way I like it right here," says 50. "Nice and ghetto."
9:40 pm EST: The G-Unit reunion is happening! Lloyd Banks comes on to perform "On Fire," Tony Yayo to "So Seductive" and even Young Buck to "Shorty Wanna Ride."
50's song with Trey Songz seems to fall flat. People don't seem to know it. As soon as it does, 50 calls for lighters and phones up, the stadium goes dark and its....majestic. Fabulous comes out....another MC that 50 has beefed with.
9:45 pm EST: Small fights are breaking out on stage. Security is trying to control things while 50 performs.
9:48 pm EST: The action behind 50 has detracted somewhat from the G-Unit reunion, which has been rather entertaining. "It's been a long time since I had the chance to come to the Summer Jam stage," 50 says.
9:51 pm EST: Yo Gotti comes out to perform his 50 Cent collab, "Don't Worry About." People aren't that familiar with him, but he goes into "Fuck You," from his recent LP, then "Yayo."
9:55 pm EST: 50's takeover of Summer Jam continues, as he goes into "Hold On," a popular street cut from his forthcoming LP "Animal Ambition." The entourages behind the stage have been somewhat contained. 50 cues up "I Smell Pussy," letting his old beefs with Irv Gotti and Ja Rule live. Some grudges are hard to shake.
10:00 pm EST: "Fresh out the mothafucking penitentiary," says Young Buck. 50 starts a minor rant. "Ni--as thought Jimmy Iovine was my boss," he says. "I aint got no boss... This is gonna be a hot summer. Let's take 'em back. I got hits for days." The Unit looks confused, not knowing what song comes next. "Ebro telling me I got to go," says 50 of the Hot 97 on-air personality, former program director. "Did y'all come to see me?"
They shut 50's microphone off, the crowd erupts in boos.
10:06 pm EST: Bobby Konders and Jabba ignite the carribean massive before introducing Trinidadian star Bunji Garlin to perform his hit "Ready For the Road." The large West Indian contingent is...uh... ready. The vibes are welcome break from the aggressiveness of 50 Cent's set.
10:15 pm EST: Funkmaster Flex, the heart and soul of Hot 97, takes the stage. "I gotta turn this shit into a nightclub," he says. He cues up Trinidad James then says "Fuck Trinidad James. I'm from New York." He plays "Jigga My Ni--a," but then curiously slips into Lil Jon's southern remix of Terror Squad's "Lean Back."
10:25 pm EST: "Make some noise for one of our own," says Peter Rosenberg. "Nicki Minaj!" Stadium goes dark as Denzel's monologue from "Training Day" plays. The beat from Kanye West's "Monster" kicks in. Minaj takes the stage but her microphone is barely audible. She grabs her ear, seemingly looking for an earpiece, aware she's having slight technical issues. Young Thug comes on stage to perform their remix of "Danny Glover" together.
She squats low, bouncing seductively in her black and white harem pants. Her silver see through top reveals stars cupping her breasts. She goes into "Lookin' Ass." "Ladies if you standing next to a real ni--a make some noise," she says.
The beat for "Chiraq kicks in," Lil Herb comes out but strangely doesn't spit his verse. He looks intimidated by the largeness of the stadium crowd. Nicki goes into "Did It On Em," then "Beez In the Trap." She turns her back to the crowd, letting them stare at her ass. She bounces low again. Nicki knows what she's doing.
Nicki goes into her remix of PTAF's "Boss Ass Bitch." But she cuts the music halfway and spits the song acapella, while her earpiece falls out again.
10:50 pm EST: "Put up your lighters in the sky," says Nicki as she goes into her new single "Pills N Potions." Lighters go up and the stadium goes somber. Nicki lets her background singers, Keisha and Candace, handle much of the sung vocals on the song, and it's met with a mixed response upon completion. Luckily the beat for "Moment 4 Life" kicks in and the crowd is back with her.
10:57 pm EST: "Its a ni-- in Young Money, I don't fuck with no more," Nicki trolls. "Drake I used to love you. But I don't love you no more." The crowd collectively gasps but then yhe beat for "Worst Behavior" drops and Drake comes out. Loudest applause of the evening. Nicki jumps into Drake's arms.
10:58 pm EST:Nicki hands the stage over to Drake, who performs "Believe Me" with a shirtless Lil Wayne. "Shout out to the best rapper alive," Nicki says.
"Loyal" comes on and the entire stadium sings the words with Lil Wayne. "These hoes ain't loyal" Wayne sings. "Don't be mad cause you ni--as aint shit" Nicki shoots back, jokingly. Drake performs "Trophies" to end the Young Money set.
11:10 pm EST: People are filing out but it seems Summer Jam is not over. It's finally time for DJ Mustard. Unfortunately the arena is now missing about 25 percent of its original audience.
Mustard begins a DJ set. "The party ain't over," he says. "If you got love for the West Coast, put your W's up." "I just signed my first record deal with Roc Nation," he says. Mustard drops the beat for "Paranoid" and Ty Dolla $ign makes his way on stage for the second time tonight. Thankfully, he's changed his outfit. Kid Ink follows him and receives an explosive applause.
Kid Ink performs "Show Me," its low bass tones rumbling off the stadium walls. A$AP Ferg comes out to perform "Work." "Say fuck that shit," Ferg implores the crowd before going into "Shabba." Whatever crowd is left, is turnt up.
11:25 pm EST: YG, dressed in a red polo shirt and backwards cap, comes out to a loud applause. He holds the New York crowd captive as they sway back and forth to "My Ni--a." The stadium briefly explodes as Young Jeezy comes out to handle his verse on the song, then perform "R.I.P." It is, deceptively, one of Jeezy's biggest hits.
11:33 pm EST: DJ Mustard plays what is his new single, "Down On Me." And as it slowly fades out, 2014 Summer Jam officially comes to a close.