Live: Nicki Minaj Takes Off From Summer Jam, Nas And Lauryn Hill Climb Aboard

Jen Diaz/Hot 97
Lauryn Hill.
Hot 97 Summer Jam: Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, J. Cole, Wale, Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, Waka Flocka, Trey Songz, Maino, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, French Montana, Mavado, Tyga, Slaughterhouse (and Nas and Lauryn Hill)
MetLife Stadium
Sunday, June 3

Better than: Seeing a Nicki Minaj concert.

In an era of increasing separation and ever-tinier attention spans, it's almost quaint to celebrate a tradition like Hot 97's Summer Jam with 60,000 of your closest friends.

Each year, Summer Jam means a sunny early afternoon heading over to the Meadowlands, the constant threat of rain during the afternoon hours, a few rap songs here and there with rappers featuring other rappers, walking into a chilly night leaving the show, and general ratchetness in the parking lot before, during, and after the concert.

Oh, and drama! Plenty of drama—which, in the years since Jay-Z vs. Nas evaporated, has turned into yawn vs. shrug.

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100 & Single: fun., Gotye, M83, EDM, And The Beginning Of The Hot 100's Spotify Years

The top three songs on Spotify, March 20, 2012. "Young" is at No. 1 on the Hot 100; "Know" is at No. 5; and "Came" is at No. 4.
How do you know when you're at the dawn of a new pop era?

It's not like someone sends a memo. Sure, occasionally there's a well-timed cultural event that offers a hint—the disastrous Altamont festival in December 1969, which signaled that the flower-power dream was over, or Comiskey Park's Disco Demolition Night in July 1979, which warned that dance music's days were numbered, at least with middle-American dudes. But even bright temporal lines like these only seem significant in retrospect, and they don't actually change the sound of young America overnight.

The same goes for the Billboard charts, the Dow Jones Industrial Average of pop. Occasionally you get a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 that feels like a revolution instantly. Or there's a blockbuster album that feels like a generational torch passing.

This week, the song sitting on top the Hot 100 doesn't necessarily sound like a revolution. But from its title on down, "We Are Young," the soaring, Janelle Monáe-assisted rock anthem by emo-pomp band fun, wants to be generational. Two weeks ago, fun. rampaged their way to the summit thanks to a pileup of digital sales. For each of the last two weeks, "We Are Young" has topped the very healthy sum of 300,000 downloads; it's the only song to roll that many weekly downloads in 2012, let alone do it twice.

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Live: The 106 & Park Tour Stops At Irving Plaza, Goes On Forever

The 106 & Park Tour: Diggy Simmons, Mindless Behavior, Lil Twist & Tyga
Irving Plaza
Thursday, July 28

Better than: a night spent without screaming.

It's like a horror movie: I can still hear their screams. When I close my eyes, all I hear is screams.

BET's 106 & Park is an after-school music video request show; a TRL with no real demographic other than "black." It skews toward young girls, but you wouldn't know that by the videos they play; right now, one can vote for clips by artists ranging from the prepubescent Jawan Harris to bullet-throwing Ace Hood; from New Boyz to grown-up Beyoncé; from churchgoing Mary Mary to ancient E-40. One can't imagine Meek Mill's audience waiting, waiting, waiting, oh it's still ringing, hold on, hold on, oh my gosh, yes, the line's finally clear, oh my gosh, and then voting for "Tupac Back," but somehow Meek Mill gets on the countdown. (Or maybe record companies just have a direct line to the phone bank. Yeah, that's probably it.)

The 106 & Park concert series is far more focused. It is a night for girls who like boys but aren't quite sure what to do with them; tweens so confused by the changes in their bodies that they can do nothing but scream when a boy looks in their direction. Just the idea of a boy paying notice is enough to make them flip out, and the boys onstage—older or younger, but much more aware—are experts at manipulation. If there's ever a lull in the show (and believe me, there are many), they know that the quickest fix is to flash just the slightest bit of the lower half of a stomach. Girls go nuts for that shit.

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