It was the type of Sunday afternoon that Ice Cube rapped about in his 1992 hit, “It Was a Good Day"--almost too good to be true.
Imagine a KKBT-FM (92.3) Summer Jam where it wasn’t the hottest, most humid day of the summer, which meant the capacity crowd of 15,000 at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre was more often cooled by a gentle breeze than by the cardboard fans provided by The Beat.
Imagine, even more incredibly, a Summer Jam that started on time, where only one of the major acts (Foxy Brown) didn’t show up and where there wasn’t any violent tension in the audience during the entire eight hours.
At Summer Jam ’97, a benefit supporting various Southern California organizations, the message was peace in the streets and unity--slogans that the station has championed over the years.
“Leave the guns, the drugs, the gangbanging . . . leave all that alone, so we can run thangs,” rapper Warren G said to enthusiastic applause at the end of his set.
The Whoridas, Adina Howard and the Comrads pumped the crowd in tight, 15-minute sets. Aaliyah, 112 and Dru Hill had longer sets, all marked by tight choreography, heartfelt vocals and enough platinum hits to delight the crowd.
Things stepped up a level, however, when DJ Quik made a rare concert appearance. Quik’s set was one of the most memorable Summer Jam has produced, right up there with Sean “Puffy” Combs and the Notorious B.I.G.'s performance and Doug E. Fresh crowd-rocking, beat-box antics, both in 1995.
The West Coast’s most influential and prolific producer outside of Dr. Dre, DJ Quik brought the crowd to its feet with raunchy and raucous hit after hit, be it his own or hits that he produced for 2nd II None, AMG and Suga Free, all of which he performed on stage with the groups.
The crowd got more excited each time Quik brought a surprise guest on stage, with the biggest roar coming when he was joined by El DeBarge, who sang a remixed version of his 1982 smash, “I Like It.”
Shaquille O’Neal’s charming, but only mildly entertaining rapping on a few numbers only served to make way for Ginuwine, a young performer who seems to improve with each appearance.
Swaggering his way though Prince’s “When Doves Cry” as well as his own hits, “Tell Me Do U Wanna” and “Pony,” he was reminiscent of R. Kelly in the way he asserted blatant sexuality without sacrificing the sensitivity and emotion of his singing. Women rushed past guards to touch him when he stepped from the stage to the seating area.
His performance was everything that Blackstreet’s wasn’t--gratifying in ways that moved beyond stage setups, dancers and dazzling magic tricks, none of which could get the multi-platinum quartet the rousing response Ginuwine had received.
By the time Bone Thugs-N-Harmony closed the show, the crowd seemed relaxed and satisfied. The Thugs employed their trademark aggressive, rapid-fire rhyming on such hits as “Thug Luv,” “Notorious Thugs” and “For the Love of Money,” dedicating them respectively to their deceased collaborators Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. and Eazy-E.
But the Cleveland group was at its best when it turned to “Days of Our Livez,” harmonizing softly over the prerecorded tones of the Force M.D.'s classic, “Tender Love.”
It was a good day.