Live: Rick Ross Lives Out His Dreams At Summer Jam

Hot 97 Summer Jam
New Meadowlands Stadium
Sunday, June 5

Better than: Sitting at home and moping like 50 Cent.

Rick Ross closed out Summer Jam.

Just so there's no revisionist history here, let's remember how incredible that statement is. Three years ago, Ross was the punching bag of hip-hop, the laughingstock of the streets. After recording countless verses that fetishized Tony Montana fantasies, someone pinched him—Ross' cartoonish thought bubble vanished into thin air, and he was rudely snapped back to reality. He wasn't a druglord superhero; he was William Roberts, a grown man playing dress-up, a former correctional officer who wanted to be a rapper so badly that he rewrote his personal history. Two years ago, he wasn't being played on New York radio.

And here, onstage at Giants Stadium, was Rick Ross—his chest puffed out, his black-and-yellow Hawaiian shirt open wide but still somehow stretching tight—cheered on by fifty thousand strong. They welcomed his street anthem, "B.M.F.," chanting a chorus and cadence that, in various incarnations, has blasted out of car windows on 125th ever since it came out last summer: "I think I'm Big Meech, Larry Hoover." Rick Ross can make up a lot of things, but even he couldn't make this up.

Summer Jam memories are similar to those borne from bar mitzvahs in that no one cares about the delivery of the prayers; what matters is whether or not all of the cool kids are there. Rick Ross was joined by Lil Wayne, whose set immediately preceded his, and sometimes overlapped. While Wayne rapped "John," in which Ross grunts excellently, Ross gave Drake a massive chest-bump; Drake somehow didn't go flying into the stands. Diddy, the tick bird to Ross' rhino, trotted out knees-up for a couple of songs, though they somehow didn't perform their most ridiculous collaboration, "Bugatti Boyz."

Chris Brown had highlights and lowlights: his dancing, while overlong, reminded everyone why he is so beloved. Like every other R&B singer, he brought a girl out on a chair. Unlike every R&B singer, he sort of punished her with his groin. An introduction to daggering on the Summer Jam stage is probably not the best thing for someone with his questionable reputation, but whatever. Forgive and forget, right?

Actually, no! Never mind that, because he introduced "Look at Me Now" with a complaint that people weren't "fucking with" him two years ago. Chris, people weren't fucking with you two years ago because you smashed Rihanna's face in. Honestly. How could someone get brain damage from punching a girl in the head?

Lil Wayne looked surprisingly healthy; whereas his face once looked drawn, he's now animated. Fabolous was reliable, if boring; Dipset, unbearable. (The stage was so crowded that someone fell into the photo pit at one point; this happened even though the people on stage, like the crowd, were standing still.) Wiz Khalifa seemed like he should've had a better timeslot. Waka Flocka looked exactly—and I mean, exactly—like this. Wale came out for a couple of things, which was great because he now has the same pineapple haircut as NSync's Chris Kirkpatrick. Lloyd Banks' set was billed as "Lloyd Banks and Friends," which was funny; his friends unfortunately didn't include 50 Cent, Eminem, or Tony Yayo.

Overheard: "Where my white girls at?"—DJ Bobby Trends, playing the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" between sets.

Random notebook dump: A note about "special guests": not everyone counts as one. Swizz Beatz: he's a special guest. So is Busta Rhymes, even if he's always around. (I've never heard the Summer Jam crowd shout so loud as it did when he came out for his verse on "Look At Me Now.") Mobb Deep counts. But Dipset brought out an anonymous girl to sing something, which was weird, especially her cameo came was right after Travis Porter performed their lone hit. Later on, Jim Jones brought out Olivia to perform some song that she had previously performed on her Vh1 reality show, Love & Hip-Hop, because she's best friends with his fiancé. He scrunched up his face like he enjoyed her singing. (That makes 1/50,000.) Lloyd Banks brought out Ryan Leslie to somehow have two costume changes, both of them terrible. I was moving around and didn't notice for at least 30 seconds that the R&B singers Lloyd and Jeremih were two different people.

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