In the early 1990s, WQHT New York, the Emmis Communications-owned radio station known as Hot 97, had a bit of an identity crisis. Ratings were down after veering from Top 40 to house and dance, and the station was transitioning to an “urban format”—rap and R&B. It was a slow evolution. Starting in 1992 and into the first half of 1993, the station’s playlist reflected this transformation, and in October 1993, Hot 97 became a full-fledged hip-hop station. Yo! MTV Raps veterans Ed Lover and Dr. Dre signed on as morning show hosts; Funkmaster Flex became an emerging star; the station’s slogan was “Where Hip Hop Lives.”
With the station in search of a branding event, Steve Smith, the program director at the time, had an idea: a tent pole annual concert at an arena. The Hot 97 staff had experience organizing shows like Hot Night New York, but for the most part, those were small gigs at nightclubs featuring emerging acts such as Young Black Teenagers. Summer Jam, which took its name from the San Francisco radio station KMEL’s summer concert, would be different. It would be an event.
The first Summer Jam was held at the Meadowlands Arena (also known as the Brendan Byrne Arena, later Continental Airlines Arena, and now called the IZOD Center) in East Rutherford, N.J., on June 21, 1994, and featured performances from Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, and Queen Latifah. Since then it has grown into the most anticipated hip-hop show of the year, an affair filled with the hottest artists, special guest appearances, and, once in a while, a little beef. Michael Jackson even showed up one year. With this year’s June 7 show closing in, Complex looks back at the history of Hot 97’s Summer Jam.
Rocco Macri: The biggest challenge for that first one was finding a venue. There weren’t a lot of rap concerts going on in the early ’90s.
Fat Joe: For many years there wasn’t much hip-hop in concert venues, especially in New York. I believe it was because of what happened at a Run-DMC concert, a bunch of riots, a couple of kids got cut up.
Rocco Macri: No New York City area venue showed any interest in hosting the first Summer Jam. That’s when Hot 97 partnered with Carl Freed from Metropolitan Entertainment. Due to Carl’s longstanding relationship with the Meadowlands Arena, he was able to secure the venue with some conditions that were all based on the venue’s security concerns. Those conditions included an agreement that the following acts would not perform: Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, N.W.A, Public Enemy, Masta Ace, LL Cool J, Ice-T, Ice Cube, and Onyx. Plus, any other artist would have to be pre-approved by the Meadowlands.
Mister Cee: At that first Summer Jam, I just remember the diversity of the audience. I was surprised. Of course you had your blacks and Latinos, but you had your Asians and white people. Even upper management looked at that and were like, “We can capitalize off of this, as far helping our brand, to show sponsors and corporate America that hip-hop is diverse.”
Rocco Macri: It was a huge success. It was the fulfillment that this radio station was as big as we thought it was, as big as the ratings were showing that it was going to be, and that it was having a major impact on culture. It cemented who we were and gave us a lot of offensive momentum moving forward.
Tracy Cloherty: In a couple of years it was selling out in 10, 15 minutes without even a lineup announced.
Rocco Macri: It kept growing. In the first year or two, you were pitching and struggling to get your two primary sponsors, and that’s all you had, but then you kept on adding different categories and different levels because the interest grew each year. The Box Music Television were one of our media partners from the beginning.
Koren Vaughan: It’s expected to bring in a good amount of net profit for us, and it does. I can’t tell you how much.
Tracy Cloherty: Hip-hop in general grew, and it was becoming more mainstream. It was a symbiotic relationship there: The more successful Hot 97 became the more successful and more mainstream the artists became. Then the advertisers believed this was a real format. It became a bigger phenomenon, which meant, of course, we had to top it every year.
Summer Jam ’97 featured twin sets from the two biggest crews in hip-hop at the moment: Puff Daddy and the Bad Boy Family, and the Wu-Tang Clan. It ended with the Clan dissing their hosts: “Fuck Hot 97, we listen to Kiss FM.” It was the first of many contentious moments at Summer Jam.
Mister Cee: Wu-Tang’s relationship with Hot 97 was always on and off, on and off.
Big Dennis Rivera: Wu-Tang were dissing Wendy Williams, who was at the station at the time. I remember being backstage with Flex and Method Man threw a battery at us.
Tracy Cloherty: Quite frankly, I’m not sure to this day why they were so angry, because they had asked to headline the event. Traditionally, the headliners close the show. Unfortunately, it was the year that Biggie passed away, and he was supposed to be on the show with the entire Bad Boy family.
Dennis Rivera: Puffy did a tribute after Biggie passed, and he asked them to put their lighters up and stuff and the entire stadium lit up. It was such a moment.
Tracy Cloherty: I guess it was such an emotional moment that Wu-Tang didn’t want to follow it, and I understand why they would feel that way, but it was something that was never discussed with us and maybe we could have changed things.
Though he had performed at Summer Jam in 1999 (where he memorably spit, “I’m about a dollar, what the fuck is 50 Cent?”) and 2000, Jay Z made history at the 2001 event. In undoubtedly the most impactful Summer Jam set of all time, he performed “H to the Izzo,” debuted the first two verses of “The Takeover,” put Prodigy from Mobb Deep up on the Summer Jam screen, and brought out the King of Pop.
Peter Rosenberg: Damn, that [was] a bloodbath.
Tracy Cloherty: Jay Z wanted to top his last performance. He didn’t want to do the same thing over and over again. He wanted to create moments that people would talk about 20 years later.
DJ Enuff: I didn’t know about Michael Jackson. These things are kept tight—no one tells you nothing. But then we got wisp of it through the hallways, like, “This guy is bringing out Michael Jackson.”
Mister Cee: We didn’t know anything about Michael Jackson. Tracy Cloherty might have known.
Dennis Rivera: Tracy might have known about it. It was a well-kept secret.
Koren Vaughan: I think Jay told Tracy.
Tracy Cloherty: Jay’s camp called us within a week of the show and said that this was something they were trying to get done and could we make this happen from a logistics standpoint if they were able to convince [Michael Jackson] to come. Naturally, we said yes, we could.
Koren Vaughan: You couldn’t get too close to Michael.
Tracy Cloherty: [Michael] had some of his own [security] people, and there were definitely some rules that went into effect. Even though I was introduced to him, I couldn’t shake his hand or anything, and I couldn’t step within, like, a 6-foot perimeter around him. Things like that. It certainly added another layer of security concerns and things that we had to deal with behind the scenes. But it was certainly worth it.
“There is only one Michael Jackson, and one Jay Z, so I would caution anyone today from trying to one-up that.”
Big Boi: We went straight to the airport [after our performance in 2001] and got on a private jet. We were doing two-a-days at that time on that James Brown schedule. I don’t think we heard about it until we did our other show. It was like, “Damn, he brought out Michael Jackson?”
DJ Enuff: Who brings Michael Jackson to a hardcore hip-hop concert? It was unheard of. It’s like [Jay Z] was at a poker table with the illest hand, and he was bluffing, but once he pulled it out, it was like, oh wow. Everybody now tries to outdo the next person with their celebrity guests during their set. I don't know, though. How do you beat Michael Jackson?
Peter Rosenberg: There is no way to top that. I don't know how.
Ebro: There is only one Michael Jackson, and one Jay Z, so I would caution anyone today from trying to one-up that.
Peter Rosenberg: It was one of those things like, “Did it even happen?” There is barely any footage of it, and you can barely see [Michael] in the footage that does exist. Someone is filming the big screen and you can see it for a second, but it’s barely there, but you know it’s him! It happened and you are sure of it, but at the same time, it’s like Bigfoot. You can barely see that it exists. It’s so crazy. It’s not like Michael performed. It’s so crazy and random.
Dennis Rivera: Let me tell you a Michael Jackson story. I was backstage, and I was standing next to this dude who kind of looked like Michael, but his face was weird. I’m thinking it’s someone who looks like Michael, but it’s not Michael, it can’t be Michael. Why would Michael come to Summer Jam? Turns out that it was Michael.
When Jay Z ended his performance of “The Takeover” at Summer Jam 2001 with the words “Ask Nas, he don’t want it with Hov—no!” he set the defining battle of a generation in motion. Nas followed with the “Stillmatic” freestyle over the “Paid in Full” remix; Jay Z unveiled the full version of “The Takeover” on The Blueprint; Nas debuted “Ether” on December 4, 2001, which just happened to be Jay Z’s birthday; Jay then responded with “Super Ugly.”
Six months later, Nas had big plans for his headlining set at Summer Jam 2002: He would hang a life-size animatronic figure that looked like Jay Z—there were gallows, and everything. It was a little much for Hot 97, and Nas left the venue. Later that night he appeared on Hot’s rival station, Power 105, where he bashed Hot 97, N.O.R.E., Nelly, Jay Z, Funkmaster Flex, and Angie Martinez in a legendary interview.
Dennis Rivera: I’m a huge Nas fan, and when Nas and Jay Z were doing the battle on the air with their songs I voted for Nas. But I agree that he was going too far. You can’t have someone hanging someone else on stage.
DJ Enuff: When you are trying to bring in crosses it has to get approved. When you start looking at the paperwork, it’s like, he wants to do what? It’s crazy. God, religion, lynching, things were just too much. I don't know. Then he bounced.
Tracy Cloherty: The situation with Nas was unfortunate. There are certain things that we just couldn’t have on the stage. We just couldn’t do it. I regret that things got so out of hand. I’m happy that we were able to patch things up later on because we have the utmost respect for Nas. He is certainly in my top five rappers of all time. But this is an all-ages event, and there are certain things that we just can’t do.
Koren Vaughan: Tracy made the decision, and we all supported it. Then we had to come out with a Plan B.
“They didn’t give Nas a fair shot, but what Nas wanted to do was a little bit
over the line.”
DJ Enuff: Tracy was like, “What do we do?” I was like, “Look, the Dipset dudes are right over there. I got their records, let’s get ’em.” I called Jim [Jones], they came on stage and did an impromptu show. They saved us. Dipset came through, man.
Mister Cee: It’s tough. It’s a fine line. In one sense, if you as a station gave Jay Z the platform to say what he said, then you as a station should’ve given Nas a platform to allow him to do what he wanted to do. They didn’t give Nas a fair shot, but what Nas wanted to do was a little bit over the line. We did the right thing, but we didn’t do the right thing. It allowed Nas to go down the street to Power 105 that same night, and this was early stages of that station coming out. That was one of those things where Power 105 got their cookie, got their come-up off of us. There were a couple of times where we gave them those cookies, we gave them those assists, and that was one of those times.
DJ Enuff: We caught a little bit of backlash, like, “How are you going to let them disrespect me?” We get that. That happens.
Mister Cee: From the artists to the streets, they were calling us Hov 97. We went through that phase. On the flip side, Hov was hot. He had that run: six straight summers. How do you deny what he brought to the table? Our job is to play the hottest records, and he was just that big at the time. If you want to say it was Hov 97, it was Hov 97.
And now an interlude from Sisqo:
Sisqo: By the time I had gotten to Summer Jam [in 2000], there was so much that had gone on between me and the label. I had just finished recording a song with Lil’ Kim called “How Many Licks?” Whenever you have a contract with your label, in order for you to do features each party has to sign off on it. You do favors. Since I had written “How Many Licks?” I wanted to be in the video. In order for me to do that, I did a favor for the label by singing on that song with DMX, “What They Want,” which was awesome. It ended up being a win-win for both of us. The second favor I did was a remix to “Thong Song” for the Nutty Professor II soundtrack. Everybody knew that song didn’t need a remix. It was going to be what it was going to be, no matter what. That was my favor to them. I did my part of the bargain. I was hoping they would fulfill their part of the bargain and sign off on me being in Lil’ Kim’s video. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they didn't want to sign off on it. I think the reason was that they had Foxy Brown on Def Jam. “How Many Licks?” was a smash and would have helped Lil’ Kim’s album go into a whole other space, and it would have made it difficult for her competition or her opposition, if you will.
The label decided they didn’t want to sign off on it. It made me extremely upset. They were talking about suing me if I showed up in the video and all this other stuff. This is all behind the scenes—no one knows this. Lil’ Kim shoots the video, and I’m not in it. Next thing you know, rumors started hitting the street that I thought I was too big to be in the video, and I’m arrogant and all of this other stuff, which was a ludicrous statement, an insane statement! I wrote the song! Why would I not want to be in the video? Not only did I hold up my part of the bargain, but I’m being slandered for not being in the video for a song that I wrote. By the time I got to Summer Jam, yo, it was air time. I got on the Summer Jam stage, and I just blasted my label. I was like, “I wanted to do more for y’all.” Everyone seemed to have explosions and bands and crap. [The label] didn’t put no money in my performance, so I was like, “Let me make this performance worthwhile.” Then the beat dropped and Lil’ Kim comes out and we perform “How Many Licks?” for the first, and last, time, right there in New York. To make a long story short, that was my introduction to the blacklist. I’ve been invisible ever since. Let me stop. Rule No. 1: Don’t go against the machine.
When 50 Cent touched down on Summer Jam in 2003, he was the hottest rapper in the industry, and he did not disappoint, running through his gamut of hits and firing shots at Ja Rule and Murder Inc. via the now-notorious Summer Jam screen. The following year, his performance should have been a celebration, with G-Unit’s Tony Yayo making his first public appearance following his release from prison, but a different energy coursed through his set. Bang ’Em Smurf, a former G-Unit affiliate, Domination, and their Silver Back Guerilla crew showed up in the crowd and hurled chairs at the stage. In the midst of the chaos, 50 slammed his mic and exited the stage to boos.
Mister Cee: G-Unit at Summer Jam, even though the performance ended nasty, the hype, and their significance, and how big G-Unit was at that time was live.
Swizz Beatz: I liked G-Unit’s moment when it was right in the beginning. That felt like something real. It reminded me of when we first came out, something a little edgy, a little dangerous, which is how hip-hop is supposed to feel a little bit.
Tony Yayo: Oh man, let me tell you, I don’t think I can ever get that high again. The Free Yayo thing—shout to Em, 50, Banks, Buck, and everyone else who supported—was big for me. I had just gotten out and was realizing how big I was and how big G-Unit was. It was ridiculous. They had a little cage on stage and I came out the cage in an orange jumpsuit. The crowd went bananas. It was definitely a pivotal moment in my life. I’ll never forget that.
Dennis Rivera: When 50 performed in 2004, I was on the side of the stage and didn’t see exactly what happened. All I saw was a bunch of chairs flying around.
Tony Yayo: That was a nigga from our hood that we used to mess with, and I guess he had salty feelings. That’s every day. I done had people that stayed at my house that are running around with Rick Ross right now. It’s just how the game goes—friends come and go. The older you get sometimes you have less friends. I remember having these 100-man entourages and they not around no more. That was just someone who wanted to ruin our show. I don’t even want to say his name.
DJ Enuff: I was on set at the time. When half the stage got separated and collapsed, two crates of my records fell into the crowd. I lost all my records that night. But it’s part of the game. 50 ended up paying for it. He replaced everything for me.
Ebro: We’ve had several incidents with 50 at Summer Jam.
Tony Yayo: G-Unit, we’re down with 50 Cent, so we’re always looked at as, I guess, the troublemakers of the industry.
Following Game’s 2005 performance—which featured the former G-Unit rapper hurling his crew chain into the crowd and a fake beatdown of two men wearing gorilla and rat costumes—beef at Summer Jam, and in hip-hop, cooled.
Ebro: The shit got corny after a while. There was a point when seeing rappers get into it was super popular, but it’s not popular anymore. It’s not good for the overall business. 2005 lines up with when Live Nation, AEG, and these big companies started investing money in putting together big tours, and you wasn’t going to get a big tour if you were an artist that had a bunch of fucking problems.
DJ Enuff: Listen, who wants that? That shit is played out. That whole rolling deep, 40 guys in the crew, who wants that? Nobody wants that. Maybe back in the day it was cool for a little bit.
Swizz Beatz: When we went [in 1999], we were probably 300 deep with bikes, all the wrong people there, acting like a war was going to pop off there when it wasn’t. It was the wrong mentality.
Peter Rosenberg: Hip-hop has changed. Beef is not a common thing in hip-hop, fortunately. It’s still had its moments of popping up at Summer Jam as we’ve seen. By and large, it’s just naturally based on hip-hop having a lot more camaraderie.
Tony Yayo: It’s crazy, but those were good times in hip-hop. I miss those moments. It was a little more real. Every entourage had some sort of killer. You had some real scary dudes. There were a lot of scary dudes in the industry at that point. There was a lot going on, believe you me.
With beef no longer as popular, artists utilized different tactics to win over fans. A few producers—Lil Jon, Swizz Beatz and DJ Khaled—found the winning formula.
Mister Cee: There was a Summer Jam a few years ago in 2007 where Swizz Beatz and Kanye West were battling each other, going back and forth with their produced tracks. That was incredible to me. Kanye would drop a joint, the crowd would go crazy. Swizz Beatz would drop a joint, the crowd would go crazy.
Dennis Rivera: The crowd knew every single joint that they played. It was incredible.
Ebro: It was phenomenal.
Peter Rosenberg: The battle with Kanye? That was awesome. That was a creative way to make your mark.
Swizz Beatz: It was my first time being a solo artist on the stage and was up against Puff closing out. Nobody was thinking about me in that type of way. I said, “How could I flip Summer Jam on its head, as far as the producers are concerned. You know what? What if we do a beat battle?” And I reached out to everybody. I reached out to Timbaland. I reached out to Pharrell. And Kanye was the crazy one to say yes. I love that because it showed a lot of unity within the producer community. We were real about it too. He said, “How’s it going to go?” I said, “It’s going to be like a battle. We’ll go back and forth. You play what you got in your arsenal. I play what I got in my arsenal. We pick out our top five to 10 songs, and we just have fun with it.” We know we’re cool with each other, but when we get on that stage, it was war. If you look at the clips, we were talking real shit. Kanye was hot as fish grease at that time, too, for him to just walk out and interrupt my set like, “Oh, nobody else got no beats, Swizz?!” We had them at that point.
I don’t know how to determine who won. The crowd went crazy when he was playing stuff. The crowd went crazy when I was playing stuff. Did you look at the video? When I seen his list, I told him, “This is what I’m playing over here. I think you should change two songs.” He’s like, “Alright, I’m gonna change them.” But he never changed them. I guess he was playing chess. I’m not going to put them [two songs] out there. When you look at the performance, you can tell.
“This is f*cking Hot 97 Summer Jam. This is New York. This is nothing to play with.”
DJ Enuff: Lil Jon and Friends was, I think, the first time we added the “And Friends” thing. It was like, What the hell is Lil Jon and Friends? Well, I don't know if Lil Jon has enough material to do it on his own. Maybe people don't see him as that guy even though he’s an incredible DJ and artist, but then when you add the friends it can be anything with all those records Jon made and produced. Then the whole world came.
Lil Jon: Basically I had all these records with different people—Pitbull, Lil Scrappy, Daddy Yankee. I forgot who I brought out. I got all these records with all these different people. This is fucking Hot 97 Summer Jam. This is New York. This is nothing to play with. If you’re going to bring it, you got to come with every fucking gun you’ve got: big guns, little guns, grenades, you got to fucking bring it. Going into it, me and my man Bryan Leach, who was my A&R, were like, “We got to get everybody.” We tore it down.
DJ Enuff: A newer version was DJ Khaled and Friends, same blueprint, you name it and they all come out.
Fat Joe: You know Khaled always has summer anthems with everyone’s favorite artists on them. It’s like a movie. It’s like “We Are the World” every time he does it. Every time he comes out, it’s like “The Symphony” or something.
DJ Khaled: The way I did it, I felt like I brought that street element to that stage like I was on the block. When I do my shows, especially Summer Jam, I have one thing in mind: Tear that stage apart. I’m not trying to do a regular show with a song and then another song, nah. It’s do 20 seconds, then stop, hold up, another one, let’s go. It’s like a tornado came on stage. I wanted to bring some surprise elements. I wanted to have people wondering. People were talking in the streets, “Who is Khaled bringing out?” I brought out Rick Ross. I brought out Barrington Levy. I brought out Cam’ron. The list goes on. It was a hip-hop collage of greatness. In 2010, I feel like I got the crown that night. I feel like DJ Khaled is the king of Summer Jam.
Ebro: DJ Khaled has had some shit out there, boy, but you’d have to say Hov is the king of it all.
Summer Jam is also a spot where you can break a record or, if for some reason, an act isn’t connecting with a crowd, get booed off the stage.
DJ Enuff: The concert is [market] research. Before PPM [Portable People Monitor, a system to monitor listener habits], before any magazine says this or that, we just saw 50,000 people scream, sing, dance, recite lyrics to that new song. I love that one artist who is not on the bill and comes out with that hit record and steals the show.
DJ Khaled: In 2010, I brought out Ross when “BMF” was only two days old. Nobody knew the record, we performed “BMF,” and we officially broke it right there on stage during my set. It ended up being one of them anthems.
Fat Joe: In 2004, Lil Jon brought me out when “Lean Back” couldn’t have been more than two weeks old.
Lil Jon: I asked Cipha Sounds, “Yo, is Joe on the show?” He’s like, “No.” I asked if anyone was bringing Joe out? He said no. I thought, This is fucking New York fucking Summer Jam and no one thinks of bringing Fat Joe out to do “Lean Back”?! I was like, “We need to get Joe on the set.” We hit Joe up. Joe came out and we just smashed it.
Fat Joe: It was crazy to see 52,000 people lean back at the same time. It was amazing. That was the moment when everyone realized that “Lean Back” was going to be No. 1. It was two weeks after it came out. It was almost a mix show record. I don’t think it had even entered rotation, and for the whole stadium to react like that? That’s how we knew the record was going to be No. 1. I was killing it, and then I looked backstage and guess who I locked eyes with? Kanye West. His eyes were so open, like, “Oh shit, this shit is a movie.”
Ebro: There are artists that don’t like Summer Jam because the fan base here is so jaded and so cynical that it’s hard to please them.
DJ Enuff: How about Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child getting booed at Summer Jam [in 2001]. Who does that? Why would we do that? That’s the nastiness of this city sometimes.
Mister Cee: Me, Funkmaster Flex, and Big Dennis introduced Destiny’s Child, and they got booed. We looked at each other like, “Yo, what’s happening?” It was kinda confusing. We came up with the theory that they were overexposed at the time. They were doing everything. Them being a part of a “hip-hop concert” when they were looked at as beyond hip-hop and beyond R&B, as pop, that’s the reason they got booed. At that time they were overexposed. People were just tired of them at that point. They had to chill out for a minute.
DJ Enuff: Has Beyoncé been back at Summer Jam? There you go.
The 22nd edition of Summer Jam takes place at MetLife Stadium on June 7. Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown & Trey Songz, Big Sean, Meek Mill, Fabolous & Friends, Omarion, Ty Dolla Sign & Friends are scheduled to perform on the stadium stage.
Ebro: We are in a transition. Jay is Jay. Kanye is Kanye. But they are seen as the older generation. Then you have Drake, who’s the superstar of the new. Then you have Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, who are right there. Then you have Wale, Meek, and Big Sean. Because he doesn’t do a lot of shows, Kendrick Lamar is a big deal, but I can also argue that the streets love Meek Mill. Even Big Sean had a great album release this year, so I could argue that those people are people they want to see too. Big Sean’s affiliations obviously bring a lot of interest as well.
Big Sean: All I can say is that it’s going to be an entertaining show. Nobody should expect anything. People go in expecting surprises, but if it happens, it happens. I just want to give the best show I can give, and not get stressed out about who I’m going to bring out—if I’m going to bring out anybody. Regardless, it’s going to be a crazy time. I got some real anthems man that’s gonna light that stage up.
Ebro: I’m already working on next year. I’ve already put in calls to try to get Summer Jam on people’s calendars and see if they will take offers. Some people will take an offer early. Some people want to wait until December, January to see what their plans are. I see though which people have early potential and are gearing up for something. Hopefully Drake will come back around next year. This year he did the festival circuit. Try to get a J. Cole thing or something like that. Then you also have artists like the Weeknd and PARTYNEXTDOOR. Maybe Nicki will be back. It’s our obligation to make our next superstars, right? We play the music, right? And we hope the music becomes a hit, right?
Dennis Rivera: We’ve had so many friends that we’ve lost. I remember when Biggie did his set, the entire place was singing his joints. It was so loud. The music was loud, but you could still hear them singing every single word. Biggie was like a god in that place at that time.
Tracy Cloherty: I remember Heavy D wanting this big prop piece, this huge bowler hat. When we heard about it, we thought it would look janky. It just sounded like something that would look silly on stage, but it ended up looking cool. Of course, Heavy could pull anything off. It was a memorable set, and the set piece gave it some dimension.
“It’s such a historical event, and so many historical things have happened there.”
Fat Joe: I was out of town when Pun performed. But I heard something crazy happened before he went on stage with security, like security didn’t want to let Pun on. I heard the story. I think he beat niggas up. He beat up the security, then went on there and killed that shit—that sounds like a Terror Squad extravaganza.
Tracy Cloherty: Aaliyah’s dancers were late for some reason; maybe they had a problem getting in through the back gate because that was always a major security checkpoint. Two of them ended up not having time to change into their costumes. It didn’t matter because her performance was so amazing anyway. Nobody even noticed that they weren’t in the same costumes as the other dancers, but it upset her.
Koren Vaughan: Name someone who is big in hip-hop, and they have performed at Summer Jam.
DJ Big Dennis Rivera: Everyone knows Summer Jam is like the Super Bowl of concerts.
Troy Ave: Summer Jam, for us, is like Woodstock every year.
Swizz Beatz: Making it onto the Summer Jam stage is a major accomplishment. It’s like a graduation.
Fat Joe: If you make it there as an artist, it means you are hot that year.
DJ Khaled: It’s such a historical event, and so many historical things have happened there.
Sisqo: Everyone wants to be a part of Summer Jam
Tony Yayo: Getting on that Summer Jam stage is on every rapper’s bucket list.