Today is the 23rd anniversary of HOT 97’s Summer Jam. This is an event that takes place annually, featuring hip-hop’s best artist during the past year. I get so excited when this event comes around; so much that I treat it like a holiday. I count down the days, promote the event, and set up to watch the stream like it’s the Superbowl.
Why? Well, to start, I LOVE HOT 97. HOT 97 is one of the most notable hip-hop radio stations being that it was the FIRST hip hop radio station. When it comes to building my career in radio, I look up to many people from HOT 97. I can’t remember how I initially came across personalities like Miss Info, Funkmaster Flex, and Ebro Darden, but I’ve always known who they were and have always looked up to them. One of my biggest influences is Ebro Darden. Although people give Ebro a lot of shit for his age and some of the things he says, Darden sets the tone for what hip-hop radio should be. His AM show, Ebro In the Morning with Laura Styles and Peter Rosenberg, focuses on the REALNESS. Their interviews with artist hold quality and they stick with discussions that the true hip-hop fans want to hear. With this, knowing that Ebro has gone from radio personality to adding program director under his HOT 97 belt, I respect everything that he has contributed to the culture. HOT 97 has done a lot for hip-hop and has influenced me, so I faithfully support Summer Jam.
My love for HOT 97’s Summer Jam drastically increased in 2014. In one of my favorite movies, Brown Sugar (2002), this question is proposed: When did you fall in love with hip-hop? Well for me, this was it: As I watched Summer Jam 2014 from my own room, seeing artist from the entire spectrum and timeline of hip-hop perform, for some odd reason, gave me an adrenaline rush. The way the crowd became hypnotized by legends like 50 Cent and Nas and artist of the new school like Nicki Minaj and Troy Ave, at the age of 15, this was all a flabbergasting sight. As I watched these performances, I realized the impact and influence that hip-hop artist’s careers had on the world; it was truly an epiphany. From that, I grasped that hip-hop was something that should be supported and something I should be a part of.
Summer Jam 2014 is when I officially fell in love with hip-hop.
This experience meant so much to me that I’ve written two speeches about it in my college classes of English and Speech, and they were some of my best works.
As I prep for tonight’s delayed show, I will be watching with a sense of pride. Although Summer Jam is ultimately just another radio event, it is bigger than that to me.
Stream the 2016 Summer Jam here.