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Jay-Z & Timbaland »

What do you get when you take the greatest living rapper and the greatest hip hip producer. You get one hot album. Sign the petition and lets make it happen.

by kenn on 6/06/2005 09:29:00 AM

Some Fresh Posturing, As Usual, Making News

Source: NY Times


You don't go to Summer Jam for the music. The annual concert, sponsored by the New York City hip-hop station Hot 97 (WQHT, 97.1-FM), is known as one of the year's most uneven and unpredictable shows. And that's precisely what makes it one of the few unmissable events on the New York area's musical calendar. Summer Jam has developed a reputation as a place where something happens, and when the station's hosts spend months flogging the event (and giving away tickets), they find ways to hint at Summer Jam's chaotic legacy.

Summer Jam is the place where Jay-Z displayed a huge (and seemingly authentic) photograph of a rival as a young boy, dressed up for dance class. Summer Jam is the place where, last year, a restive audience decided it was sick of 50 Cent and more or less booed him offstage.

And after Sunday night's events at Giants Stadium, Summer Jam will also be known as the place where the Game, making his way through a set that generated a noticeably lukewarm response, decided to restart his famously quashed feud with 50 Cent and G-Unit.

Three months after 50 Cent and the Game, his former protégé, held a joint news conference in Harlem to announce a truce, there was the Game, making an announcement that was either hastily conceived or carefully planned, or a bit of both. Looking out over the crowd, he announced, "50 Cent can" - well, let's not worry about the particulars.

The Game's songs are ubiquitous on the airwaves of Hot 97 and other New York City radio stations, but there's something oddly impersonal about his local reputation: listeners may love his songs (and, especially, his impeccable taste in beats), but they don't seem to love the man himself. You could sense it when he emerged onstage, face hidden by a bandana and hand gripping a bat - a grand entrance that inspired only a mild cheer.

It was hard not to suspect that his attacks on 50 Cent were meant at least partly to revive a flagging set, and although they didn't start a riot (whether angry or exuberant) in the crowd, the strategy did ensure that the Game would dominate conversations - and, yes, newspaper articles. He noted, plaintively, that the members of G-Unit had "kicked me out the group," then changed his tune slightly to add, "I saw a snitch and I ran out the rat hole with my cheese." All the while, he was making his way through his fistful of hits, and although there was a brief scuffle onstage, the backdrop was more often surreal: the Game's dancers, doing their choreographed moves while he picked a fight.

After it was over, Angie Martinez declared, "This is another monumental evening in hip-hop," though it seems unlikely that the Game's performance will go down as one of hip-hop's greatest or noblest moments - especially if it inspires more violence. (When the feud first erupted this spring, a man was shot in the leg outside Hot 97's studios.) Once the Game had left the stage, the D.J. slyly cued up Jay-Z's "It's Hot (Some Like It Hot)," an old track in which Jay-Z aims a throwaway jab at 50 Cent.

Oh yes, Jay-Z: if it hadn't been for the Game's outbursts, the pseudo-retired Jay-Z might have been responsible for the night's most memorable moment. He appeared at the end of Kanye West's set and received by far the night's most rapturous ovation; his two-song set ( "Public Service Announcement" and "Encore") was proof that there are few things more thrilling than watching Jay-Z shake a stadium with his rhymes.

Up until the Game, this had been a noticeably good-natured night, and one when notoriously hard-headed New York fans seemed happy to welcome out-of-towners. After opening sets from Cam'ron's Harlem-based crew the Diplomats and the Yonkers-based trio the Lox, the stage was given over to foreigners - that is, Midwesterners and, especially, Southerners.

As Jadakiss from the Lox memorably put it, "Summer Jam ain't Summer Jam unless you have some nice featurings." And the Atlanta-based shouter and producer Lil Jon triumphed by featuring lots of guests: Ice Cube, the reggaeton star Daddy Yankee, the exuberantly smutty Georgia duo the Ying Yang Twins, the emerging reggae singer Damian Marley. (Not a one, notice, from the Northeast.)

Ludacris, another headliner from Atlanta, didn't really need special guests: he has amassed an impressive stack of hits, and his exaggerated declamation sounds great rattling around a stadium. But Ludacris brought out a guest anyway: Bobby Valentino, to croon his slow-jam "Slow Down."

At Summer Jam, R&B is inevitably an afterthought, although there were brief, early sets from Amerie and Ciara - who were also, not coincidentally, the only women on the bill.

The night's last performer was Snoop Dogg, who had what would have been an unenviable task for a less famous hip-hop star (which means nearly all the rest). But Snoop has been making hits for more than a dozen years, so he didn't seem at all nervous, even when it came time for him to perform his parts from "P.I.M.P. (Remix)," by the man the Game had just finished trashing: 50 Cent. Indeed, although he recently toured with the Game, Snoop seemed happy to be able to avoid the fray - a wily veteran, happy to let the kids scuffle.

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