Eminem, D12, Obie Trice, 50 Cent, Nas, Busta Rhymes, LiL Kim, Sean Paul, Nelly, Clipse & Fabolous.
As the rain came pouring down on fifty five thousand fans in East Rutherford, New Jersey, for Hot 97’s Summer Jam 10, the world’s biggest Hip Hop artist Eminem, took the stage to a crowd heading for the exits. While Eminem has dominated the Hip Hop world ever since his introduction back on “The Slim Shady LP”, on June 3rd his accolades meant nothing to a stadium more concerned with seeing the hottest artist of the moment, 50 Cent.
When 50 Cent and his G-Unit affiliates took the stage, the buzz surrounding Giant Stadium exploded, as the industry’s hottest artist to date rocked the tri state area. While 50 has been criticized for his live performances, on June 3rd 50 brought his A-Game, as he showed the capacity filled stadium why he is still on top of the Hip Hop world. Over the years Summer Jam’s have seen its share of controversy and drama. 2003’s edition was no different, as 50 opened his performance to poke some fun at his favorite target, Murda Inc. The set opened with a video, as 50 was seen sitting on a computer giving the crowd a lesson on how to spot “bitch ass niggas”. Exhibit A was Ja Rule singing in the rain for his embarrassing video with Mary. J Blige, while Exhibit B was another shot of Ja Rule, this time with tears in his eyes from the “I Cry” video. This public service announcement by 50 drew a large laugh from the crowd, as everyone loves to poke fun at Ja Rule nowadays. As the video commenced, 50, Lloyd Banks, Young Buc and about 30 of his friends, all dressed in white tees and bullet proof vests came out to a questionable opening song “Gotta Make It To Heaven”. While the track is questionable, the crowd loved every minute of it, as fifty five thousand screaming fans recited every word. 50 mostly ran through his cuts off of "Get Rich Or Die Trying”, as he performed “High All The Time”, the infectious “What Up Gangsta”(the crowd loved that one), “Blood Hound”, “P.I.M.P.” and of course the hits “In Da Club”, “Wanksta” & “21 Questions”. Also included were the mixtape hits of “Niggaz” featuring Biggie and “The Realest Killaz” featuring 2pac. 50’s set was simple but effective, as him and his 30 or so posse members kept the crowd amped and interested at all times. 50 closed his set with the collaboration everyone was waiting for with Eminem on “Patiently Waiting” as the duo did a solid job at it.
However, it seemed as if that was the last joint the crowd was interested in hearing, as a good majority of the stadium filed out after 50 Cents performance. After Em & 50 finished “Patiently Waiting”, it was Em’s turn to rock the tri state area, only the crowd had different plans. By the time Em started going into his routine, opening with many questionable tracks, such as “Business”, the lines leading out of the stadium were filled to capacity. While Eminem has always been a good live performer, his choice of songs for this year's Summer Jam was questionable at best. Instead of running through the numerous hits he’s accumulated over the years, he decided to go with such songs as “My Dad’s Gone Crazy”, “Business”, “When The Music Stops”, “Purple Hills” and his freestyle over 50 & Biggie’s “Niggaz”. While they were done nicely, minus the D12 collaborations, which were just horrible, most of the crowd was either gone or not into it, making the atmosphere not as electric as expected. The highlights of Em’s performance came from his hits such as “8 Mile”, “Without Me” & “Lose Yourself”, along with his messages to Ja Rule & The Sauce. As Em finished his verses from 50 & Biggie’s “Niggaz”, a sound clip of Ja’s infamous last bar's going at Halie from “Loose Change” rang through the building. Em and D12 ran on stage to perform a bad rendition of “Doe Rey Me”, which had the crowd puzzled (those that were left), as hardly anybody knew the words to the mixtape hit. Eminem’s next shots were fired at the Source, as he asked Obie Trice to bring him his bag behind the stage. In the bag was a Sauce award to lyricist of the year in 2000, which prompted Em to talk about the Sauce’s mishaps over the years and how they tried to shut him down at tonight’s concert. Em then threw the award to the ground, shattering it and drawing a nice response from the audience at the same time. The final two songs of the night were from the collaboration of Em, 50 & Obie for “Love Me” off of the 8 Mile Soundtrack and the Murda Inc diss track “Hailmary” by Em, 50 and yes Busta Rhymes. The trio did a decent job reciting the track, as Busta tore it up with his verse and comments afterwards about the Ja Rule situation. “I didn’t build my career on beefs, I built it on making songs. But when my 10 year old son comes up to me and tells me I have been disrespected, I have to protect my integrity as a man. If this is the way Ja wants it, then that’s how it’s going to be”. Overall the Eminem did a decent job as the headliner for Summer Jam 10, but his choice in songs were questionable and a little disappointing. Also, by the time Em was done almost half the stadium was empty, which was shocking considering the super star status of Eminem. I guess 50 Cent is indeed Hip-Hop’s biggest star now, or at least that’s how the tri state area feels.
While Em & 50 were the headliners for the concert, the rest of the artists on the bill are not to be overlooked. The finest of them all was of course, one of the industry’s best live performers Busta Rhymes. Every time I witness Busta in concert, it is always a mind-blowing experience. Busta indeed tore the whole cot damn stadium to shreds with his performance. His energy, charisma and command of the crowd are amazing, as Busta is indeed a throw back to the old days when seeing a live show was not just an event but an experience. Busta opened his performance with the mega hit “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See”, which had the whole stadium bouncing. Busta then ran through his other hits such as “Break Ya Neck”, where the DJ turns off the beat and lets Busta RIP IT with his ridiculous doubled timed flow. Busta also brought out the most guest appearances of the night, as P.Diddy came out for “Pass The Courvoisier Remix”, Lumidee came out for the new remix of “Uh Oh”, pop diva Mariah Carey showed up for “I Know What You Want” and Bone Crusher made an appearance for the remix of “Never Scared”, which straight brought down the house. The shirtless Bone Crusher and Busta had the whole stadium singing the tracks catchy hook, as it was one of the highlights of Busta’s performance, surprisingly enough. In the end Busta stole the whole show and proved why he is one of the best liver performers without a question.
While last years Summer Jam turned into a disaster for Nas, as it lead into the Q.B. emcee having a mental breakdown of sorts, going off on a rampage against anybody and everybody, this year Nas actually did come through for the fans and showed up to the event. While I have heavily criticized Nas for his lurid live performances, his show as Summer Jam X was a lot better than those pervious witnessed, even though the fans did not totally agree. Like Eminem, Nas made some really bad choices in songs, as he opened up to the dead silence of “The Cross”, “Get Down” & “Revolutionary Warfare” featuring Lake. Not the best lineup to open a show to say the least. Nas rebounded though with his hits off of “It Was Written”, “Street Dreams” &”If I Ruled The World”, which drew a nice reaction from the crowd. While those two joints put some hope into the crowd, for the most part Nas wasn’t getting the crowd reaction he thought he would. That was until he brought out the living legend himself, Krs One! Kris and Nas hugged on stage, while the beat to “The Bridge” played. Nas obviously wanted to pay homage to the legendary battle between BDP & The Juice Crew, as Krs tore the damn stadium up with “The Bridge Is Over” and “South Bronx”. Krs has always been noted as the worlds best Hip Hop performer, and the tri state area got to see why, as Krs single handily saved Nas’s set (for the mean time). After Kris did his thing, Nas went on to talk about battles and beef and the beat to “Ether” dropped, which immediately drew boos from the crowd. Nas performed his 1st verse from “Ether” to the crowd’s display. Nas actually did a good job, as “Ether” is one of the few joints Nas does well, but the crowd, for whatever reason wasn’t feeling it. Nas was also booed during his performance of “One Mic”, mostly due to the fact Nas always does the same sappy routine of kneeling on the ground and rapping in a soft, woman like tone for the song. Thankfully, Nas ended his set on a high note as he brought Jadakiss out for the “Made You Look Remix”, and finished it all off with “I Can”. Nas’s track selection was the main reason for his performance not being great, but he overcame a crowd that was way too tough, even for my standards, which showed a lot of heart.
Rounding out the top echelon of emcees at the show, LiL Kim put on a great performance for the crowd in more ways than one. Kim showed a lot of energy and charisma on the mic, along with some big ol’ titties for the world to see. Dressed in nearly nothing, Kim’s chest was constantly popping out during her performance (even though I couldn’t see from where I was), which definitely had every man in the crowd going crazy. Besides that, Kim’s set had the whole stadium going crazy. She ran through her Biggie tribute, playing some of Big Poppa’s instrumentals and Jr. Mafia Tracks, which was fun to hear. The later part of Kim’s set was mostly dedicated to the tracks off of “La Bella Mafia”. Kim brought out Twista for “Thug Luv”, which drew nothing but blank stares from the crowd. But Kim rebounded nicely when she brought out Mobb Deep for the “Quietstorm Remix”, which was one of the highlights of her set. Kim ended everything with her two hits “The Jump Off” & “Magic Stick” (minus 50) which were done nicely and entertained the crowd. Overall, Kim did a hell of a better job than I expected and had the whole stadium going.
But with all the energy Kim build up, the next performer just killed, which was none other than Nelly. While it’s hard not to be biased, as I openly despise Nelly with a passion, I can say this; I was not alone, as almost all of the fifty five thousand in attendance felt the same way. Nelly opened up with the boring “Pimp Juice”, which lead to nothing but silence from the crowd. He followed up with the 5 minutes too long performance of “Air Force 1’s” and his other commercial hits. The crowd was visibly not into his performance, as most headed to the exits to get refreshments during this time. Nelly finally closed out the show with a horrendous performance of “Dilemma”, (minus Kelly), which drew nothing but large boos from the crowd. On a personal note, the tremendous booing of Nelly off the stage was one of the high points for me during the concert, as it was great to hear Jersey & NYC display their hate for the Hip Pop representative Nelly. While Nas also got booed during the night, it was nothing compared to what Nelly got, which was just embarrassing.
The remaining acts that opened the concert were The Clipse, Sean Paul & Fabolous. Sean Paul did this usual thing, getting the woman into the mix, which is always a good thing. He ran through his album cuts and ended up with a nice performance. The same cannot be said about Fabolous and The Clipse however. Fabolous, while not horrible, was disappointing to say the least. He spit his commercial hits for the most part, such as “It’s My Party”, “Can’t Deny It”, “Keepin It Gangsta”, “Holla Back” and “Can’t Let You Go”. While Fabolous himself wasn’t horrendous, he needs to drop his 3 hype men, who are obsessed with spitting out every word Fabolous does, along with their thug ranting's on the mic. However, The Clipse get the award for worst performance of the night, as they put everybody to sleep. They did their usual hits of “What Happened To That Boy”, “Grinding” & “Cot Damn Remix”, but deciphering what Malice & Pusha T said was almost impossible, as the two mumble all of their vocals. I guess that’s why they went on first though.
While the rain poured down for almost 5 hours straight, everyone left Summer Jam 10 at least someone satisfied, no matter their reason for going. And even though I ended up getting soaked beyond belief, which really dampened the mood, I would have done it all again in a heartbeat. While it’s disappointing everyone left for Eminem, the overall atmosphere of the concert and performances by most of the artists were very solid. Busta Rhymes of course stole the show, while 50 Cent, Eminem & LiL Kim did a solid job right behind. Nas was disappointing, but for me, it was better than I have seen him do. The rest of the artist could have been done without and will soon be forgotten, but in the end Summer Jam 10 was a success, no matter the horrible weather that rainy Jersey night.