Summer Jam : Boston Tweeter Center

Jay-Z, Ja Rule, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and more at the Summer Jam...

Jam’n 94.5 FM’s annual Summer Jam is the unofficial jump-off to what some might consider the hot season. It’s not only a celebration of the songs you’ll be sick of in two months for all the times you heard it blaring out of an open car window, but an excuse for the newly unschooled teenage set to, as Jay Z put it, do some parking lot pimping. The girls are packed into

their tightest; the boys are decked out in their baggiest; and the suburbs

are alive with the sound of live hip-hop.

So, bring on the pimps, thugs, drunks, divas, and children, ’cause that’s

what they like. Just be careful about bringing too many. ‘Cause, two is too

many Wyclef-produced Refugee Camp-ers. While Product G&B are shaking their ass and watching the crowd sing the hooks from the Santana track, ‘Maria Maria’ and the childish (in a good way), ‘Cluck Cluck’ back to them, City High’s corny choruses are suddenly redundant.

Two is also too many drunks. ‘Cause Xzibit‘s more bounce and an ounce version of ‘Bitch Please’, his “let’s get drunk and fuck” attitude, and the controlled mayhem of his gruff and tumble flow over Dr Dre ‘s warped horror-movie production, makes Redman smell like second-hand smoke. Redman‘s crashing his own party, with ten-too-many people and DJ Kool with mics, rendering ‘Let’s Get Dirty’ more like sloppy. At least a run through ‘Da Rockwilder’ reveals that Red is in the studio with Method Man and a follow-up to their first (ahem…) joint (cough…) album is imminent.

An exception to the two-is-too-many rule is the ladies though. Newcomer Blu Cantrell’s be-bop headbanger, ‘Hit ‘Em Up Style’ has a scary sing-along shopping-spree-as-revenge chorus that sends the men into their pockets to protect their wallets. Then there’s Lil’ Mo, leaping and bounding over her guest spot status (Missy Elliott‘s ‘Hot Boyz’) with her ultra-slick, ‘Superwoman’.

Unfortunately, Ja Rule doles out Mo’s parts on ‘Put It On Me’ to an unknown. This aside, Ja Rule plays his sensitive thug act perfectly, switching from

paranoid Eminem-ish persecution tales, to the straight-gangster ‘Holla Holla’ before going all Tupac, leading the crowd in the chorus to ‘I Cry’: [I]”When I cry, you cry, we cry,”[/I] and then acting genuinely broken up about it. Ja should call Smokey Robinson and flip ‘The Tears Of A Triple Platinum Rapper’.

Moms and daughters must wish all three feet of Lil’ Bow Wow had followed them home, after seeing the braided-up boy bounce and yip of ‘Bow Wow (That’s My Name)’. And while Scrappy Doo gets points for being the shortest rapper of the night, it’s Jay-Z that clocks the shortest set. A bus breakdown and what must have been an awkward lift from the police, Jay Z,

Beanie Sigel, and Memphis Bleek pop in for a scoped set of Jigga-fied hits, including ‘I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)’, ‘Jigga, My Nigga’ and ‘Big Pimpin”. But it’s all too hurried for Jay Z‘s laid back pimp-style and even the best moments, including Sigel’s solo ‘Guess Who’s Back’, are cut off.

In the end though, it’s not the pimps, the thugs, the drunks, the divas, or

the children who are truly hot tonight. It’s the DJ, New York’s finest Funkmaster Flex. In between moving the crowd with favorites by Mobb Deep andNelly, he resurrects not only the [a][/a] to a Bon Jovi-worthy lighter showing, but also a cooing and crooning Marvin Gaye, dropping the only sure-shot hit of the summer, Erick Sermon’s Gaye-sampling ‘Music’, to a sea of knowing head-nodders. And with that, hip-hop is really live.

Ben Wolford