On June 21, 1994, Hot 97 kicked f its inaugural hip-hop festival Summer Jam, right in the heart one the genre’s biggest years, and featured performances from Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Queen Latifah and more. At the time, Nas released his classic album Illmatic in April, Outkast followed suit shortly after with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, before The Notorious B.I.G etched his name into hip-hop history with his debut album Ready to Die.
Fast-forward to Sunday night, 25 years since the fest's debut, and Hot 97’s Summer Jam continued to do what it does best: supply guests with a star-studded bill; lousy, volatile weather conditions; and a slew surprise guest appearances. Rain or shine, thousands guests marched into New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium to help celebrate the auspicious occasion, which included sets from new-school rappers like Rich the Kid and A Boogie to hip-hop’s most elite artists, from Lil Wayne and Meek Mill to Kendrick Lamar.
Here are the nine best moments from Hot 97’s Summer Jam 2018:
A Boogie Goes International
Following Rich the Kid’s opening set, A Boogie touched down at the Summer Jam festival main stage for the second consecutive year and ripped through his growing catalog popular tracks. Up first was the 6ix9ine collaboration “Keke,” sans the rainbow-haired rapper, who later took to Twitter to call out Hot 97 for refusing to let him into the event. From there, Boogie went on to perform tracks like “Not a Regular Person” and “Jungle” before dipping into his upcoming project, The International Artist, to treat the audience to the Afrobeats-laden “Way Too Fly,” featuring Nigerian crooner Davido. With a phalanx backup dancers, Davido took the New Jersey hip-hop festival to the motherland as he took the opportunity to perform his own hit “If.”
A$AP Ferg Turns Summer Jam Up a Notch
As the stadium seats quickly filled up, Boogie handed the stage over to fellow New York rapper A$AP Ferg. Ferg’s lively flow and layered beats made for the perfect soundtrack to warm up the crowd when he bounded onto the stage around 7 p.m. The audience clung to each word Ferg’s early hit “Work” and continued to provide background vocals for the rapper each time he segued into other tracks like “Shabba” and “East Coast.” But the highlight Ferg’s set was the Three 6 Mafia-sampling cut “Plain Jane,” which caused the crowd’s energy to heighten when Ferg turned the mic to the fans for a stadium sing-along session.
Remy Ma Takes a Trip Down Memory Lane
With more than two decades in the rap game under her belt, Remy Ma needs no introduction, and her Summer Jam set on Sunday night proved exactly why. While the new generation Remy Ma fans were treated to her recent hits — “All the Way Up,” “Company” (featuring A Boogie) and “Melanin Magic” — the majority her set was dedicated to the classics that put her on the map. Clad in a full Gucci ensemble, Remy waltzed onto the stage and journeyed back to the early 2000s to dig up M.O.P’s “Ante Up,” “Lean Back” and “Conceited.” For her R&B earworm “So Good,” Remy was accompanied onstage by Ne-Yo. To the delight the crowd, Remy Ma’s next guest was none other than the Queen Bee herself, Lil' Kim, who joined Remy for “Wake Me Up.” Then, Remy sent out a warning to someone, presumably her longtime rival Nicki Minaj, saying, “And I’m here all night in case anybody wants to come through.”
Remy’s fiery warning was followed by a cameo from A Boogie, who got a second chance to perform his hits for a much larger crowd than his initial set earlier in the evening. Boogie jumped into “My Shit” before the sound the crowd rapping “Timeless” and “Drowning” rattled the stadium seats until he ended his brief set.
Tory Lanez Salutes the '90s
Since Tory Lanez’s breakout hit “Say It,” featuring a sample Brownstone’s “If You Love Me,” the singer/rapper has made clear he has a knack for old-school samples, as evidenced by his popular mixtape series Chixtape, which became the focal point his entire set. After kicking f his set with the triumphant anthem “Shooters,” Tory ripped through his catalog old-school-sampling cuts from his latest mixtape, Chixtape 4. Nostalgic tracks like Diddy’s “I Need a Girl,” Pretty Ricky’s “Grind on Me” and Disney Channel’s Proud Family theme song were stripped down and embellished with Tory’s trademark melodic voice. At one point during his set, Tory told the crowd to “Enjoy your motherfucking money” and focus on the festival instead “looking cute.”
Lil Wayne Commemorates 10-Year Anniversary Tha Carter III
On June 10, 2008, Lil Wayne unleashed his iconic album Tha Carter III, which backed his ongoing claim being “the best rapper alive.” When Lil Wayne stepped onstage Sunday, he started f his set with three statements he makes before every performance: “We all ain’t shit without the eyes above. Number two, I know that I ain’t shit without you,” he said before repeating his second statement. “Number three is a very important thing and if you don’t remember shit about tonight, please remember that I ain’t shit without you.”
The New Orleans native peppered in cuts like “Ride for my N—as (The Sky Is the Limit),” “John” (featuring Rick Ross) and “6 Foot 7 Foot” in between his Carter III cuts. Wayne took the Summer Jam audience to 2008 with the T-Pain-starring “Got Money” and “Lollipop,” then treated fans to the star-studded “Pop That” before transitioning to “A Milli.” With the energy levels reaching an all-time high, Weezy punctuated his set with the lively “Steady Mobbin.”
Meek Mill Arrives in Style
When Hot 97 first announced the Summer Jam lineup in April, Meek Mill was still locked behind bars, serving his two- to four-year sentence. However, plans quickly changed when Meek was released from prison just days after the announcement, as his name soared to the top line the festival bill.
An audio recording news reports announcing Meek’s November arrest began to rumble from every speaker in the arena, as the DJ dropped Maybach Music Group’s signature tagline. Given that Meek was arrested back in 2017 for performing bike stunts in New York City, the rapper made a grand entrance on his dirt bike to make a major statement. The stadium lights dimmed and cell phone flashlights lit up the sports arena as Meek’s infectious “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)” lingered in the background. Through screams and applause, Meek wasted no time performing the track with the help thousands fans rapping each line without missing a beat.
“Last time I was in New York on a motherfucking bike, I lost my freedom,” Meek said. “This time, we ain’t going back to jail because we’re ‘Litty.’” The thumping bass the Tory Lanez-featuring cut “Litty” dropped, causing Meek Mill to gallop across the stage in bliss. As his set winded down, Meek opted to end with “1942 Flows” before he reminded the crowd to strive for greatness because “nothing is motherfucking impossible.”
Swizz Beatz vs. Timbaland
“Swizz Beatz and Friends” turned out to be one huge party featuring special guests like Jadakiss and Bell Biv DeVoe, before the latter half Swizz’s set centered on his ongoing battle with his longtime friend and fellow superproducer Timbaland. The famed producers went toe-to-toe in a beat battle using all the hit songs they’ve crafted over the years. Swizz’s picks included “On to the Next,” “Jigga my N—a,” “I’m a Hustla,” “Tambourine” and more, while Timbaland hit back at Swizz with a slew classics including “Big Pimpin,” “Dirt Off Your Shoulders,” “Work It” and “Are You That Somebody.”
Kendrick Lamar Brings out Jay Rock
Kung Fu Kenny bounded onto the stage around 10 p.m., bouncing to the beat “DNA.” Throughout his nearly 30-minute set, Kendrick ripped through his early hits, including “King Kunta,” “Swimming Pools” and “Backseat Freestyle,” before returning to his recent album DAMN. Kendrick brought a piece the TDE Championship tour to Summer Jam by bringing out his fellow TDE cohort Jay Rock for their Black Panther collab “King’s Dead.”
Houston Legends Come out to Play
When Hot 97 DJ Megan Ryte teased that her Megan Ryte and Friends set would be memorable, she certainly delivered on her promise. Fans were expecting guest appearances, and they got a crop Houston legends that soundtracked the 2000s with their gritty, Southern flair. Slim Thug was up first and treated the crowd to the 2004 guest-heavy cut “Tipping on Four Fours,” before Paul Wall emerged onstage to perform “Internet Going Nuts.” Ryte didn’t stop there and paid tribute to Pimp C by playing “Int’l Players Anthem” just in time for Bun B to come out, who also performed his part on JAY-Z’s “Big Pimpin.”
From there, the night ended with Hot 97 DJs Bobby and Jabba bringing out a slew Jamaican artists including Hood Celebrity, Kranium and Aidonia, whose set was shut down before he even got a word out.