It’s Summer Jam season once again. The weather heats up and radio stations across the country throw huge concerts featuring stacked lineups of the year’s hottest hip hop artists. The bulk of the shows are dubbed “Summer Jam,” and in Northern California KMEL’s offering is always the most hyped and the most talked about concert of the summer. This year’s installment was no different. Fans flooded into the sold out Oracle Arena in Oakland to see Rick Ross, Tyga, Diggy Simmons, J. Cole, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, and Wale hit the stage.
Each artist delivered a unique set. Many have the opinion that mainstream ready-for-radio singles all have the same sound these days. While that may be true, each artist has their own way of delivering that sound to a live crowd. Whether it’s Big Sean’s wobbly walk to center stage, spilling the contents of his red solo cup onto the front row while he spits his way through a song or it’s Tyga’s intense stare and the sight of the skinny rapper perched atop his bodyguard’s shoulders so he can get close to his fans, none of it’s the same. And it’s all entertaining.
Khalifa’s on stage persona is just as you’d expect. His signature laugh rang from the amps multiple times throughout his quick 40 minutes on stage. He ended the show with his new single “Work Hard, Play Hard.” Although he was predictable Khalifa’s swagger added to his stage presence and his songbook. His material is some of the most over played on radio but he’s able to breathe new life into the catchy lyrics. Most of the front rows were in utter shock that Wiz was actually in front of them. He’s gone from up-and-coming emcee to bona fide super star quickly and his live set has evolved with his meteoric rise to fame.
After hearing so many radio singles consecutively, that all used synths and deejay’s, J. Cole brought a new sound to the stage. The most musically inclined act of the night covered his 20 minutes with lyrics that deserve to be rewound and an underlying R&B feel. Cole may have been the ladies favorite of the night, but that’s not saying much when Rick Ross serves as head liner.
Ricky Roze was the official head liner but every artist could have been on the top of the bill. The combination of them made tickets to this show go quickly. Ross ran through a 45 minute performance of recognizable tunes and a slew of those signature barks, that had the crowd on their feet and singing along with him.
Summer Jam is much more than a concert. KMEL always brings a line up chock full of stars to keep the thousands of fans satisfied. This year was no different and the speculation for next year’s installment has already begun.