After 20 years at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Sunday saw the return of Summer Jam to New York — a homecoming for one of the most legendary shows in hip-hop, and a perfectly timed return to the birthplace of a genre that started here fifty years ago.
Summer Jam has been on hand for much of that history. Hot97, the first all hip-hop station in New York City, hosted the first all hip-hop arena show almost 30 years ago. It landed with a bang in 1994.
Coincidentally, that was the first year three Yonkers rappers teamed up to form the Lox, longtime Summer Jam mainstays. They were back on hand Sunday to lead the celebration of the golden anniversary of hip-hop, which is commonly held to have its roots at a Bronx party deejayed by Kool Herc in August 1973.
The caliber of performances managed to match the expectations of the milestone. East Coast legends the Lox hosted the celebration late into the evening before introducing the “God MC” Rakim, a surprise showing.
After his performance Paid in Full, Jadakiss called Rakim “one of the four fathers” of hip-hop.
After hours of rappers born in the aughts, the Lox took the stage nearing 10:30 p.m. and somehow managed to up the energy level another notch. Jadakiss, Sheek Louch and Styles P ran through their classic cuts, performing ‘Good Time (I Get High),’ ‘D Block,’ and ‘Money, Power, Respect.’
The trio then performed ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ in honor of their fellow Yonkers rapper, the late DMX, and flowed over the creeping keys of Biggie’s classic ‘Who Shot Ya?’
The show didn’t just look back. Marrying history with the future, the show blended a number of younger acts with established names who shared the stage in showcasing a culture that hasn’t stopped evolving and — after half a century of existence — has yet to peak in popularity.
Transitioning from Rakim’s entry, Jadakiss pointed ahead to a new era of New York rap, bringing out Scar Lip for the hyper-confrontational ‘This is New York.’
The Lox set ended fittingly with Jadakiss’ and Styles P’s triumphant ‘We Gonna Make It.’