08June

Hot 97 Summer Jam 2016: An Unexpected Night

Posted by - Mark Elibert

This past weekend New York City radio station, Hot 97, held their annual Summer Jam concert at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. However what was supposed to be an epic day turned out to be lackluster to say the least. Hot 97 had a huge day planned for the biggest hip hop show on the planet. The festival stage had Chance the Rapper, Tory Lanez, Desiigner, Post Malone and more set to perform. As for the main stage Future, G.O.O.D Music, DJ Khaled, A$AP Mob, Terror Squad, Bryson Tiller, Young Thug and more were also set to perform. With a stunning line up like these how could it have gone wrong?

The day was marred by terrible weather as forecasts predicted torrential rainfall and severe thunderstorms. The predictions were spot on as the rainfall wasted no time putting a wrench in Hot 97’s plans. The rain caused Hot 97 and MetLife Stadium to delay the start of the festivities and it wasn’t a short delay. Trains and buses at Port Authority in New York City weren’t bringing fans to MetLife as no means of transportation was cleared to leave due to the weather. As the weather got worse the start of the show seemed nonexistent. People were checking their newsfeeds and contacting friends already at the stadium to find out that the festival stage was canceled entirely. To make matters worse buses at Port Authority were not leaving until 7:30, a good four and a half hours past the start of the festival stage.

As time slowly passed Hot 97 released a statement saying that Summer Jam would start at exactly 9:30 PM, three hours after the original start time. Buses and trains rolled out at 7:30 and the show was under way, of course with some major changes. To go along with the cancellation of the festival stage, Hot 97 removed Tinashe, Young Thug, and Kid Ink from the main stage. The removals made sense as Hot 97 had to work with the time constraints they were given. To make up for those three key losses Hot 97 had Maino open up the show with Uncle Murda and 2 Milly as guests. After their performance the best part of the night occurred.

To everyone’s surprise G.O.O.D Music’s logo appeared on the screen and the stage turned 180 degrees to show 6 people standing in a line. Pusha T, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Travis Scott, Desiigner and special guest Kanye West revealed themselves to a raucous crowd and got right to business wasting no time performing their hits. The key part of G.O.O.D Music’s set was when it was Desiigner’s turn to perform his smash hit “Panda”. As Kanye and his brothers performed “Father Stretch My Hands, Part 2” Kanye stopped his song and told Desiigner to get into the spotlight and perform the original. As the entire crowd was clapping in unison, Desiigner showed off his trademark energy as the beat for “Panda” dropped causing pandemonium inside MetLife stadium. Desiigner had MetLife stadium in the palm of his hand as Kanye stood in the background smiling from ear to ear like a proud mentor.

The next performer to grace the stage was R&B crooner Bryson Tiller. He performed songs off his debut album Trapsoul and even brought out Fabolous to perform several songs off his own mixtape Summertime Shootout. Funkmaster Flex followed Bryson Tiller’s performance with his trademark turntable mix and introduced the Bronx collective Terror Squad. The Terror Squad had the audience bumping to their hits and even brought out Joe, Ashanti and French Montana to the stage. Once they performed their smash single “All The Way Up” as well as parts of the official remix, everything went downhill from there.

After Terror Squad got off stage a brawl broke out in the floor seats that sent chairs flying and the crowd running all over the floor of the stadium. State troopers quickly got to the scene to assess the situation and the house lights were turned on for the rest of the night, effectively sucking out any energy that was produced by the previous acts. What should have taken only a couple of minutes felt like it took hours as MetLife security, Hot 97 personnel and law enforcement were figuring what was going on and what was the best move going forward. Funkmaster Flex got back on the turntables to ease the crowd during the wait but crowd already grew restless. Flex’s set wasn’t all that impressive either as the records he were cutting were played at an annoyingly high volume that distorted the sound.

Once everything was settled A$AP Mob took the stage to a weary crowd. Normally A$AP Mob’s sets are full of energy but nothing they could do would get the crowd off it’s feet, thanks to the overdrawn delay that happened before their set. They were only able to perform 4 songs which didn’t seem too fair. Of course the show must go on so they went through their set and thanked the crowd despite their lack of energy. Up next was DJ Khaled who also did his best to get the crowd moving. He brought out Mavado, MOP, Busta Rhymes, Yo Gotti, The Lox, OT Genasis, Kent Jones and Rick Ross. The crowd started to wake up with Khaled’s set but it was short lived as Hot 97 pulled the plug on his whole set and the entire show telling everyone to get home safely. Once everyone realized what had happened the entire arena was filled with boo’s and some more fights broke out at the concession stands. What started out so strong ended horribly for Hot 97.

Now it’s understandable that Hot 97 had to work with whatever time they had due to the rain, but it could have been executed better. First things first Future, the main headliner, didn’t even get to see the stage due to time constraints. Future could’ve gotten on the stage if Hot 97 played their cards right. Maino’s show opener went on longer than it should have and didn’t really make sense since he hasn’t really made any noise the last couple years. It seemed the show that was put on wasn’t planned as the order of artists didn’t really make sense either. How does Maino precede G.O.O.D Music who then precedes Bryson Tiller who was followed by Terror Squad? The lineup didn’t mix well.

For the brawl that transpired in the crowd nothing can be done about that, but why did it take so long to get everything resolved? Of course you want to make sure everything is ok and everyone is safe but looking at the scene, the state troopers seemed to be just standing in the middle not really investigating anything. Also why were the house lights still on if the ok was given by law enforcement and Hot 97? The lights that stayed on removed any energy and hype that remained within the crowd. It was a different show once the brawl broke out. Another issue with the show was the quick and sudden ending to the night where Khaled’s mic was turned off and a video played on the screen telling everyone to get home safely. Why wasn’t there an announcement saying what had happened or an apology given that didn’t feel like usual corporate banter?

A day that was supposed to be fun and exciting ended up being mediocre and uninviting. Maybe it’s time for Hot 97 to rethink the plans for Summer Jam as it seems every year something happens like the riot that happened outside the stadium last year. It’s rained 6 years in a row at Summer Jam, maybe its time to move it indoors so that this doesn’t happen again. What else needs to happen to force Hot 97 to shake up Summer Jam so that for once it’s a successful show? It’s not being said that a hip hop concert is too much of a problem, but why is it that Summer Jam has several issues that other hip hop concerts/festivals rarely see? Summer Jam’s popularity was built on rap beefs and that has spilled onto the crowd where it’s come to the point that going to the show raises a lot of red flags among people. Although the weather plays a huge part in what happened Sunday, the mismanagement on Hot 97’s part also gets a huge chunk of the blame.

It might just be that time to give Summer Jam a rest. It’s starting to feel like its not worth the trouble anymore.

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