Though she's currently receiving more airplay than most artists that graced the Stadium Stage, Australian phenom Iggy Azalea was the first artist to perform at Summer Jam this year. Her placement early in the day may have had something to do with Swaggy P's desire for some birthday sex, but whatever the case, Azalea hyped the crowd up with a New Classic-heavy set.
Accompanied by four scantily-clad backup dancers, Iggy took the stage wearing underbutt-friendly attire and promptly launched into a 20-minute-long set of fan favorites. "Pu$$y" was a sure highlight, as it was one of the few earlier songs Iggy performed, and had her flirting with the crowd while telling them to "taste my Skittles." The Charli XCX-assisted "Fancy," the Number One song in the country right now, closed the set, though unfortunately XCX wasn't there to sing the chorus. Nonetheless, as soon as the song's DJ Mustard-esque beat kicked in, the whole crowd went wild before Iggy went home to celebrate with Nick Young.
Coke Boys' Chinx (née Drugz) followed Iggy Azalea's performance, juxtaposing her poppy brand of ratchet music with his hard-nosed street bangers. The French Montana affiliate brought many members of his Far Rockaway posse with him, including a heavyset dude who may have been the best hypeman at Summer Jam 2014.
Kicking things off with the Harry Fraud-produced "I'm A Coke Boy," Chinx exuded the energy of rapper on the come-up, which is fitting since his debut album is due out soon. Other tracks like "Feelings" gave the performance a more anthemic feel, with the presence of Chinx's crew making for a very celebratory atmosphere. Before leaving the stage, Chinx turned to the crowd for an obligatory "free Max Bizzle!" that was met by cheers in support of the currently-incarcerated rapper.
Actor-turned-singer Mack Wilds (real name Tristan Wilds, you may know him as Michael Lee from HBO's The Wire) was up next to give an inspirational performance. Recounting stories of sneaking into past Summer Jams with his friends, Wilds seemed overjoyed to have made it as a performer, giving thanks to the fans that got him there. From the sound of the cheering, most of those fans were women, some of whom had their day made by Wilds when he jumped down from the stage and extended an arm out into the crowd.
Performing his recent hits "Own It" and "Henny," among others, Wilds showcased his pipes, which have a smooth quality similar to those of Trey Songz's. His outfit was also notable, as he came to the stage wearing a Yankees jersey and strips of black tape under his eyes, and carrying a baseball bat. Mack Wilds already has the swagger and adoring fans necessary to become a star -- he just needs to continue hustling as hard as he did at Summer Jam.
Following another actor who recently picked up music, Childish Gambino was introduced by a heartfelt story from Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg involving his late brother-in-law, a huge fan of Gambino. The Beacause The Internet rapper opened with that album's "Crawl," which brought out more bombastic bass than the crowd had heard at that point in the day. Gambino, accompanied by a four piece band, was by far the most energetic artist to grace the Festival Stage, jumping around animatedly while still somehow not missing a single bar.
With other set highlights being "Sweatpants" and "3005," Childish Gambino showed that despite his above-the-knee shorts, he can still deliver hard-hitting tracks that hip-hop traditionalists can get behind.
Sultry L.A. songstress Jhene Aiko was next, coming to the stage in a flowy dress that had the crowd hoping for a wardrobe malfunction throughout her show (quoth Aiko: "Let me know if my vag is out, guys"). Despite the fact that we didn't get one, Aiko delivered a stunning set accompanied by a live band who were unbelievably tight.
A few songs into her set, Aiko brought out Childish Gambino to do their collaborative track, "Bed Peace," and the two Californians' chemistry was immediatly apparent. Closing with her surprise hit "The Worst," Aiko won the crowd over with her charm, stunning looks and silky voice.
Following a brief set by Sevyn Streeter and Araabmuzik, an intro video for Troy Ave began playing on the screens in Metlife Stadium. Specifically calling out Trinidad James for being a "weirdo rapper," and locating himself as the successor to Biggie and Jay Z, Troy Ave came to the stage accompanied by a whole host of members of his BSB crew.
Opening with "Everything," Troy seemed hellbent on making his recent inclusion on XXL's freshman list seem deserved, repping NYC harder and more conspicuously than possibly anyone else yesterday. A surprise during his set was when T.I. showed up on the stage for a few minutes, staying in the background but definitely being seen by most audience members. Troy Ave's looking like he may be about to blow up in NYC, and co-signs from artists as big as T.I. are just what he needs to get there.
Action Bronson followed Troy Ave, spending much of his set rapping from the audience, but Summer Jam really kicked into high gear when Wiz Khalifa took the stage to thunderous applause. From the get-go, it was clear that the "Trap Wiz" persona he unveiled on 28 Grams was in full effect.
But following bangers like "James Bong," we got a brief glimpse at Rolling Papers-era Wiz, with an added bonus: Snoop Dogg. Accompanying his Mack And Devin Go To High School co-star for "The Next Episode" and "Young, Wild & Free," the Doggfather showed the East Coast some love, grinning gleefully throughout his appearance. For Wiz, an artist who recently underwent somewhat of a sonic transformation, this Summer Jam performance cemented his staying power, and as a coworker said, made us realize how much of a rockstar he really is.
Hot 97's Laura Stylez and Miss Info came to the stage to give the ladies in attendance the announcement they'd been waiting for: Trey Songz was coming to the stage. Met by a sea of screams, Songz and his band blazed through a set of old favorites and songs from the upcoming album Trigga.
Following the sensual "Neighbors Know My Name," Trey invited Ty Dolla $ign onstage to perform their "Paranoid" remix, a meeting between two of the best voices currently in R&B. Despite Ty's appearance, the most surprising thing about Songz's set was that he waited until it was almost over to take his shirt off. We definitely thought he'd be shirtless by the second song. Trey also played "Loyal," his collaboration with the then-imprisoned, now-freed Chris Brown, and finished by getting the crowd to chant "Free CB." Looks like it worked.
With the 20th anniversary of Illmatic less than two months prior, Nas was riding a wave of anniversary shows by the time he hit the stage at Summer Jam. Fittingly opening with "NY State Of Mind," Nasty Nas performed five songs from his classic debut, including "Represent" and a rendition of "It Ain't Hard To Tell" that had him letting the song's Michael Jackson sample ride out before rapping.
Then came one of the most surprising guest appearances of the night: an MMG takeover of Nas' set. First came Meek Mill, who Nas called a "young fuckin' G straight out the hood," performing the Dreams & Nightmares intro as well as his new track "I Don't Know." He was then joined by New York's own French Montana, who got the crowd amped with "Ain't No Way Around It" before Nas came back to deliver his only non-Illmatic track of the night, the always-thrilling "Hate Me Now." An unexpectedly surprising performance by Nas, but one that will nonetheless go down in the Summer Jam history books.
Returning to the Summer Jam stage for the first time since he was banned from the event in 2004, 50 Cent brought a performance that may be the most talked-about set in a night that featured many bigger names, mostly due to G-Unit reuniting and some resulting drama. Fif, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck all appeared together onstage for the first time since 2008, and they brought hits like "On Fire" and "I Smell Pussy."
With Fiddy playing a lot of solo tracks later on in the show, his G-Unit compatriots began to seem less like partners and more like hypemen, especially when you keep the crew leader's recent derogatory comments towards them in mind. He brought out Fabolous to debut a remix of "Cuffin Season," and Yo Gotti to perform "Don't Worry About" and "Fuck You," both of whom seemed to get bigger looks than Yayo or Buck. A strange performance to be sure, and one that probably won't get 50 Cent invited back to Summer Jam for the next few years.
Despite a set by DJ Mustard, YG and Ty Dolla $ign following her performance, Nicki Minaj had easily the biggest show of the night, bringing together artists young and old, established and up-and-coming. After coming to the stage rapping her much-celebrated verse from Kanye West's "Monster," Minaj blessed the audience with a very rare appearance by Young Thug, coming to the stage to do a "Danny Glover" remix that had most of the crowd singing along.
After a ferocious rendition of "Lookin Ass," Nicki launched into "Chi-Raq" and gave rising Chicago star Lil Herb (almost literally) a minute to shine. The pair embraced and Minaj was quick to extol praises for the young MC. Soulja Boy was the next guest, showing up for the celebratory "Yasss Bish!!" and bouncing around the stage animatedly. After doing "Pills N Potions" and a slew of older songs, the time had come for the "& YMCMB" portion of Nicki's set.
First trolling the audience by exclaiming, "Drake, I used to love you, but nigga I don't fuck with you no more!", Nicki let Drake reveal the nature of her joke when he came onstage immediately following the comment. Performing 'Worst Behavior," Drizzy sent the crowd into a tizzy, letting Nicki hop up and wrap her legs around his waist after he finished. "Believe Me" was next, with Lil Wayne satisfying everyone's wishes by showing up midway through the track.
Coming to the stage in a ski mask, Weezy let us know that #CarterVSeason was fully underway with a very energetic performance that also included his verse on the East Coast version of Chris Brown's "Loyal." Closing with the fittingly-triumphant "Trophies," YMCMB capped off a wildly entertaining show.