The ‘Ebro In The Morning’ Team Breaks Down The Madness Of Hot 97 Summer Jam

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A longtime staple within Hip-Hop culture, New York’s FM radio station for Hip-Hop/R&B in Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam concert is one of the biggest live music events of the year. Its history as a breeding ground for future icons has made gracing their stage a rite of passage for artists looking to take the next step in their career or to cement their legacy even further. Nearly 30 years after the first Summer Jam took place at Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey in 1994, Hot 97 continues to carry on tradition with the 2022 edition of the concert, which takes place on Sunday, June 12 at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The featured lineup mixes the biggest names from the Tri-State area with the brightest stars from California, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and everywhere in between.

Headlined by Brooklyn’s own Fivio Foreign, whose set will feature an array of surprise guests, Summer Jam 2022’s Main stage will include performances by DreamDoll, Shenseea, Benny The Butcher, Burna Boy, Roddy Rich, Pusha T, City Girls, Lil Baby, and Lil Durk. The Festival Stage, which showcases rising stars with the potential to eventually bring their talents to the main stage, boasts a lineup that includes Girll Codee, Nardo Wick, BabyFace Ray, Drewski & Friends featuring B-Lovee, JNR Choi, Dougie B., 22GZ, Lady London, Saucy Santana, NLE Choppa, Yung Bleu, and Cordae. Hot 97 will also honor the life and legacy of the late DJ Kay Slay with a special Summer Jam tribute in his memory, which is sure to be action-packed and full of appearances from a who’s who of the rap world.

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VIBE was in the building when Hot 97 announced this year’s Summer Jam lineup, news that was revealed by the station’s superstar trio of on-air personalities, Ebro Darden, Laura Stylez, and Peter Rosenberg, during a broadcast of their ‘Ebro in the Morning’ radio show back in April. Being the hallmark date on the calendar that it is, the atmosphere in the station was celebratory, with various members of the Hot 97 staff bustling about and champagne flutes being distributed amid toasts in light of the occasion. With each artist announced, Ebro, Stylez, and Rosenberg provided commentary about the significance of the act and why their presence at Summer Jam makes it a monumental event that you don’t want to miss.

Ebro, Stylez, and Rosenberg also talk about what the public can expect from Summer Jam 2022, the work it takes to string all of the moving parts of the concert together, and it being the scene of some of the more unforgettable moments in Hip-Hop history.

Pusha T, Big Sean, 2 Chainz(C), Kanye West (R) perform at the 2016 Hot 97 Summer Jam at MetLife Stadium on June 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. - Credit: Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images
Pusha T, Big Sean, 2 Chainz(C), Kanye West (R) perform at the 2016 Hot 97 Summer Jam at MetLife Stadium on June 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. - Credit: Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

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Looks like a heavy lineup for Hot 97 Summer Jam 2022. Which acts are you personally looking forward to seeing?

Ebro Darden: I’m personally looking forward to seeing Burna [Boy], Fivio [Foreign]. I think Lil Baby and Lil Durk. They got hits together, so I’m trying to see if they like combine on each other’s set in some way and do that Khaled record [“Every Chance I Get”]. That’ll be nice. Yeah, it’s gonna be good.

Laura Stylez: I’m very excited to see what Fivio brings the table because he’s putting [on] for New York, New Jersey so it’s kind of like home, right? So I’m excited for all the special guests that he’s gonna bring out. And on the festival stage, I’m really, really excited to see Saucy Santana and Girl Code.

Definitely. How about you, Rosenberg?

Peter Rosenberg: I think for me, I’m very excited to see Shenseea. I think it’s such a great stage for her, she’s just a great artist for Summer Jam. And of course, I’m excited to see what Fivio brings to the table, big moment for him. And Pusha T is having one of the best moments, maybe the biggest moment of his career. So, I love seeing when people are having their moment, what they do.

With Summer Jam the public sees the finished product, but can you describe the work that goes into it behind the scenes?

Laura Stylez: Yeah I just say this, when we come back okay from that Sunday…that Monday, people are already starting to plan for the next year. It’s that crazy.

Ebro Darden: I mean, it’s speaking to management and artists, far in advance to see what their long term music plans are, what they’re going to be releasing. That’s part one, then it becomes identifying artists that are gonna be releasing music. Listening to the music, seeing of the music is gonna be something that we’re gonna have success with at the radio station over a long period of time. Exposing out that music to the audience, just like we would do at any time, but yeah, the conversations start in mid June of the same year. So we’ll start [planning for] 2023, June 13th 2022.

You know, trying to get a date at MetLife Stadium, trying to lock in the stage because we got to do that, too. You know those stages that you see at festivals and at all these big concerts, those stages move around all summer. So if you don’t lock in your date and lock in a stage that’s big enough for that venue, you may not have no stage big enough. And there’s only a few of those stages that do the carousel in the middle, so we’ve got to lock in one of those type of stages. So, it’s all of that. All of those things, plus the artists, the sponsors and everything. So yes, it’s a lot that goes into it.

How would you describe Summer Jam’s impact and place within Hip-Hop culture?

Rosenberg: You saw that Jay-Z footage that just came out. I mean, people are still talking about things from 21 years ago. You know, no matter what happens, you know that every couple years, there’s gonna be a moment at Summer Jam that everyone’s gonna talk about. Whether it was the Hov moment of 2001 that everyone talks about, whether it’s the stories about Nas wanting to hang Jay-Z in effigy, whatever the story may be. Swizz [Beatz] and Kanye [West] battling, death of autotune moment with T-Pain, 1997 with Wu-Tang. There’s so many different things that have happened that makes Summer Jam history.

Laura Stylez: And even a couple years ago when Remy Ma, brought out all these female MCS, from Cardi B to Young M.A. to Queen Latifah to Yo-Yo. It was just so beautiful to see so much female energy on that stage. So, some of them can be controversial, but some of them are extremely positive.

Summer Jam has also shown love to artists from other regions, which the city has gotten flack for over the years. Describe that aspect of Summer Jam and representing various sectors and corners of the culture?

Ebro Darden: Look, we have an obligation to want to represent for the Tri-State and New York. That’s our first look, but the artists and the people who actually create the music have an obligation to create music that is actually mainstream hits. If you can’t sell out SOB’s, you ain’t got no business on Summer Jam. If you ain’t selling out, give me one of them theaters, Gramercy, Irving Plaza. If you’re not doing that on your own and you think you deserve to be out at a stadium that holds 60,000 people, you’re on drugs. You need to go get your mind checked out, you don’t understand the game. So we go and look for artists that are making impact with the consumer, the person buying and listening to music. So whoever got a problem, look around and ask yourself, ‘Are you hot in these streets?’ If the only place you are popping is in your own comments on Instagram, that don’t count. Period.

The Hot 97 Summer Jam Festival stage has been a breeding ground for future stars in music over the years. Who are some of the artists you’ve seen start on the festival stage that have gone on to rock the main stage?

Laura Stylez: Travis Scott! Kendrick. Chance The Rapper.

Peter Rosenberg: [Action] Bronson, A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$. Believe me, we’re forgetting, so there’s been a lot of people.

In what ways will Hot 97 evolve moving into the future?

Ebro Darden: I think, for us, over the years it’s been about being consistent. Giving people the biggest artists that they love, on that stage and having a good time. I mean, there’s always new technology. Now we can stream or we have the HOT 97 app. We have all these different things that we could do to get people to enjoy the show. But at the end of the day, people buy tickets and our main priority is the people who bought tickets and is in there and the sponsors that are supporting the moment. So, I would say that doing more than the festival in that day. I think we’ve reached some of the capacity of what that facility can handle with regard to what we do.

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