The Daily Grind Video

When it’s your first time at Summer Jam, you don’t really know what to expect. That’s why I went into this year’s fete – my first ever – with a bit of trepidation.

See, if you’ve ever heard the tales surrounding the annual event, then you’d know it’s a certified mess. In 2009, I copped a $50 ticket, wussing out the day-of and promptly swallowing the purchase. Why? Because if the folklore of Summer Jam was true, it was guaranteed to turn the hardest thug into a thumb-sucking herb.

Far from hard and further from a thug, I wasn’t prepared to curl into the fetal position by day’s end.

Not this year. In my freshest white boy swag (a gray Polo, ripped jeans and low-top Cons), I headed to New Jersey’s Meadowland, making it to the Festival Stage in time to catch J. Cole‘s set. The newcomer laced his performance with cuts like ‘Who Dat?’ and ‘Lights Up,” later followed by Serani rounded out the parking lot jam.

Inside the stadium, the legendary Mr. Cee opened up the show with a medley of hits, but as soon as the clock struck 6:30, the show began. From the start, the promoters made sure this was going to go their way. Gucci Mane, who hit the stage with his partner-in-rhyme Waka Flocka Flame, played for a good 20 minutes, rolling through cuts from both of their discographies like ‘Lemonade,’ ‘O Let’s Do It,’ ‘Freaky Gurl’ and ‘Wasted.’ But just when you thought the set was getting too dumbed out, the mic cut out at exactly the 20-minute mark. We were in business!


Not only were the promoters set Nazis, but also the stage setup was more than ideal. The backdrop was a 360-rotating wall that allowed for stagehands to set up for the next set while an artist was on stage. And while the stage flipped around, Hot 97 DJs cut it up on a station in the back of the floor seats, catering to the audience by running through hits du jour.

One of the strongest draws for Summer Jam is the surprise appearances. Juelz Santana, who soon followed Gucci, came out to the tune of ‘Dipset Anthem,’ peppering his set with ‘The Whistle Song’ and ‘Pop Champagne.’ Maino, the night’s first guest, emerged from the wings to breeze through ‘Hi Hater’ and ‘All the Above.” And when Lloyd Banks stopped by to team up with Juelz for ‘Beamer Benz or Bentley?’ It was a wrap.


Reflection Eternal, the ‘conscious’ rap duo consisting of Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek, gave it a worthy try. The pair brought out British songstress <a href='

Global Grind

Quick Links