10 Unforgettable Summer Jam Moments

Biggie, Big Pun, Bad Boy, Busta, and even some things that don't start with "b": here are the wildest moments on that Summer Jam screen.

Atmosphere at the 2016 Hot 97 Summer Jam

Atmosphere at the 2016 Hot 97 Summer Jam

Atmosphere at the 2016 Hot 97 Summer Jam

On Sunday, Hot 97 will yet again stage its annual show-to-end-all-shows, Summer Jam. The stadium concert, which has been an important event for hip-hop since 1994, has seen more than its share of historic moments—good, bad, and (especially) ugly. 

In anticipation of Sunday's surprises, we bring you 10 unforgettable moments from that Summer Jam screen.

10. Eminem Smashes His Source Award (2003)

Eminem during Universal 8 Mile DVD Release Party

9. Swizz Beatz and Kanye West Engage in a Battle of the Beats (2007)

Kanye West and Swizz Beatz

For his 2007 Summer Jam set, Swizz Beatz wanted to do an onstage beat battle with another producer in order to "pay homage to producers." He called Pharrell, Timbaland, and more. Everyone was turning him down. Everyone, that is, except Kanye West.

Yeezy stepped up to the plate, and it led to the two beatmakers playing their biggest hits in front of a giant crowd: "Takeover" and "Stand Up" versus "Banned From T.V." and "Jigga My Nigga."

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The battle inspired a sequel a decade or so later: Swizz versus Just Blaze.

8. Jay Z Declares the Death of Auto-Tune...With T-Pain?

Jay Z (L) and T Pain perform during HOT 97 Summer Jam 2009

In 2009, Hov was declaring the "Death of Auto-Tune" on his brand-new single. But when he took the stage to perform it, Mr. Auto-Tune himself, T-Pain, came out of nowhere and stood right at Jay's side. It was a move that confused the hell out of everybody, but made for a memorable performance. You can see it below.


7. The Game Beats Down a Rat (2005)

The Game during Hot 97's Summer Jam 2005

6. Big Pun's Only Summer Jam (1998)

Big Pun performing

Big Pun only got a chance to perform at one Summer Jam before his death in 2000, but he made his set count. 

Hot 97, out of fear of a no-show, scheduled Pun and Terror Squad for an afternoon performance. But Pun not only made it and tore the stage down—he also wreaked some havoc along the way. Pun's pal Fat Joe wasn't there that day, but heard all about it. 

"I heard something crazy happened before he went on stage with security, like security didn’t want to let Pun on," Joe remembered. "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."


5. Busta Rhymes f/ Everybody (2003)

Mariah Carey and Busta Rhymes during Summer Jam X

4. Nicki Minaj Cancels After Being Dissed by Peter Rosenberg (2012)

Peter Rosenberg attends HOT 97's Summer Jam 2012

In 2012, Nicki Minaj was all set for a historic Summer Jam performance. She was going to kill with her barrage of hits, and then bring out Nas and Lauryn Hill. It was a set that would have cemented her place in the rap game.

But it didn't quite go down that way.

Early in the show, Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg was hosting on the Festival Village stage, which hosted more underground-at-the-time acts like ASAP Rocky, Azealia Banks, and Schoolboy Q. While he was filling time between rappers, the DJ went for what he later described in wrestling terms as a "cheap pop"—a statement meant to get a quick hit of applause from the crowd:

Now hold on, before I get to the real hip-hop shit of the day, because I see the real hip-hop heads sprinkled in here, I see ‘em. I know there’s some chicks here waiting to sing "Starships" later, I’m not talking to y’all right now, fuck that bullshit. I’m here to talk about real hip-hop shit. People here to see ASAP Rocky today. People here to see Schoolboy Q on this stage. That’s that shit I represent.

Rosenberg's words somehow got back to the Young Money crew, and Nicki refused to go onstage. Instead, Nas and Ms. Hill were forced into an impromptu headlining set—a situation, according to at least some people at the station, that almost no one who was actually at the concert had any issues with. "We might have gotten 20 complaints from ticket buyers about Nicki not being there because they got Lauryn Hill and they got Nas," Ebro Darden remembered.

3. Biggie Brings Double the Fun (1995)

Biggie Meadowlands suit

The second Summer Jam ever was ruled by the King of New York. The Notorious B.I.G. gave fans not one but two classic performances. First, he came out to join Total while dressed in all white linen.

Biggie Meadowlands

And then he performed his own hits in a three-piece suit, bowler hat, and cane, which you can see a photo of above. While we couldn't find any video footage, you can watch below to get some peoples' first-hand accounts of what went down that day.

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2. Bad Boy vs. Wu-Tang (1997)

Bad Boy uniforms

In 1997, the two hottest crews were Bad Boy and the Wu. They represented polar opposites in just about every possible way: well-known disco samples versus unknown soul records; noisy and grimy versus slick and polished; uptown glamor versus outer-borough realness. So it was only natural that they would both perform. 

Diddy and company brought their A-game. Dressed in matching baseball jerseys and toting bats, Mase, The LOX, Lil' Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A. tore it up and also paid moving tribute to their deceased friend Biggie. You can see footage of the crew, baseball uniforms and all, in the video below.

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Wu, who were headlining, were upset that they got the treatment normally accorded to headliners at Summer Jam: people started leaving early to get to their cars. The crew was so incensed by this that they announced from stage, "Fuck Hot 97, we listen to Kiss FM!" 


1. Jay Z Makes History (2001)

Summer Jam screen

There was never any doubt what would end up in the top slot. Jay Z's 2001 Summer Jam performance gave us two of the greatest moments in the concert's long history.

First, there was the now-famous Summer Jam screen. The relationship between Jay Z and Prodigy had been tense for some time leading up to the show, and some subliminal disses had passed back and forth. But Jay made the disagreement public on hip-hop's biggest stage. He played a new song called "Takeover." Hov took the second verse a cappella and recited a rhyme dissing P and Mobb Deep by name, while backing his words up with photographic evidence. 

"When I was pushing weight back in ’88," he rhymed, "you was a ballerina/I got the pictures, I seen ya." And then, madness. Jay showed a picture of Prodigy taken at his grandmother's dance studio. You can see it above.

After that, Hov dropped another bomb. At the end of his verse, he said, "Ask Nas—he don't want it with Hov." That half a bar launched another previously subterranean war into the public eye, and was the real beginning of arguably hip-hop's greatest beef. Listen to the whole performance below:

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Now, what could Jay possibly do to top that? Only bring out the most popular entertainer of all time. After performing "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," which samples the Jackson Five, Jay exclaimed, "I know Michael Jackson better come from behind that muthafuckin' curtain."

Sure enough, he went backstage and came back with the King of Pop, who gave the crowd a pose and a simple, "I love you all." But that was all that was needed to cement that night as the greatest in Summer Jam history.

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