Ralph McDaniels on 20 Years of Hot 97's Summer Jam and That Whole Nicki Minaj Thing

Categories: Summer Jam

Ralph McDaniels

This Sunday, MetLife stadium will hold the 2013 incarnation of what's become hip-hop's most reliably controversial night, the Hot 97 Summer Jam. The 20th annual Summer Jam, it's seen the genre's biggest stars perform and game-changing moments happen. One man whose seen just about every Summer Jam is New York's living legend "Video Music Box" host Ralph McDaniels. We spoke to "Uncle Ralph" about what the annual concert has meant to hip-hop and what he's looking forward to this weekend.

See also: Nicki Minaj Met Her Nemesis Live on Hot 97 This Morning

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Nicki Minaj, Summer Jam, Pop Fans, And What's "Real": A Few Thoughts

Last night on Hot 97, Nicki Minaj called in to Funkmaster Flex's show to chat about the sliced brisket that led to her peacing out of Sunday's Summer Jam. A brief recap: Hot 97 morning guy Peter Rosenberg called out "chicks waiting to sing [Minaj's poppy single] 'Starships' later," then called the song "bullshit," then noted that he was more interested in "real hip-hop shit." Lil Wayne, head of Minaj's crew Young Money, then tweeted that he'd pulled his people out of the show—including Nicki, who was set to headline; angry Tweets flew and Flex said that the station "ain't fuckin' with commercial rappers no more"; and Nas and Lauryn Hill filled in. Fast-forward to last night, when Nicki and Flex spent about an hour on the phone; audio below.

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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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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.

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The Five Most Controversial Summer Jam Moments

The rat who symbolized 50 Cent at Summer Jam 2005. Ah, memories.
Verbal insults! Wanton violence! Temper tantrums! Comical jpegs of foes! Mock lynchings live on stage! Sunday brings us another installment of Hot 97 Summer Jam, wherein rap's leading lights get the chance to prove the accuracy of the adage about modern hip-hop being closer to the world of professional wrestling than anything Afrika Bambaataa ever envisaged back in the '70s. So as a glittering lineup of Lil Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, and the peculiarly titled Lloyd Banks And Friends—which may just be a titular ruse to get committed Ross enemy 50 Cent into the venue, what with rumors of Curtis being banned from Summer Jam events—all prepare to take the stage this Sunday, here's a far-from-virtuous look back at Summer Jam's most controversial moments.

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Hot 97 Announces The Seemingly Young Money-Sponsored Summer Jam '11 Lineup


Hot 97 has announced the lineup for Summer Jam '11, and it's (perhaps unsurprisingly) filled with Young Money acts: superstars Lil Wayne and Drake act as the de facto headliners, while a non-specific set by Young Money, the label, is on tap. Could that possibly mean an eventual cameo by Nicki Minaj--perhaps one where she assists Drizzy on "Up All Night"?

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Summer Jam 2010 Lineup Announced: Drake, Usher, Trey Songz, Ludacris, Juelz Santana, Nicki Minaj, Fabolous, Reflection Eternal, DJ Khaled, And Gucci Mane (Outta Jail In May!)

June 6 at the newfangled Meadowlands. Rap Radar has the 11-minute clip of Hot 97 DJs yelling at each other/you as they make the announcements. I'm assuming they'll add Dirt Nasty later. And maybe B.o.B! A shame Die Antwoord's spoken for, eh?

Summer Jam 2009: One Man's Twitter-Based Narrative

Yes, our fair blog's most avid Summer Jam enthusiast is long gone. But Hot 97's annual fete/debacle raged on last night at Giants Stadium, and friend of SOTC/Vibe guru Sean Fennessey was there to bemusedly take it all in, including yes, Jay-Z's live debut of his Auto-Tune riposte and thrilling communion with, uh, T-Pain. Sean's Twitter offered splendid insight for those stuck watching the Lakers/Tonys -- here, we provide some highlights of his highlights.

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