Then & Now: 9 Summer Jam Performers Who Leveled Up

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If you’re in New York City during the summer, there’s really only one show you have to see when it comes to hip hop/rap: Hot97’s Summer Jam. Anybody who’s anybody is at the festival of the season, from Kendrick Lamar to Drake and J.Cole.

READ: Hot 97 Announces Their Lineup For Summer Jam 2017

For most artists however, their Summer Jam performances come just before their glow up. In other words, Kendrick before DAMN. or Chance the Rapper before his three Grammy wins. So off the heels of Summer Jam 2017’s lineup announcement, let’s take a look at how far the top performers have come since taking the stage.

1. Kendrick Lamar

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Kendrick headlined Summer Jam back in 2014, just two years off the release of his second studio album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. But since he hit the Hot 97 stage, his career has only intensified. Now, Kung-Fu Kenny is set to headline his own tour this summer 2017, in support of his current No. 1 album, DAMN. 

2. Childish Gambino

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Despite distinguishing Internet music in the industry, Childish performed on the smaller, Festival Village stage back in 2014. But if he were to be scheduled for this year’s festival, that set would be nowhere big enough. Since then, Childish has sky-rocketed the charts with his 2017 project, Awaken My Love! And not to mention, Donald Glover blew away ratings and even won a Golden Globe for his show Atlanta.

READ: ‘DAMN.’ Proves Kendrick Lamar Doesn’t Make “Fun” Music, So Is Drake Better?

3. DJ Khaled 

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DJ Khaled’s only slogan back in 2010 was “We the Best,” but thanks to Snapchat, the popular hype-man has expanded his vocabulary to a long list of positive sayings. In addition to encouraging his fans to eat healthy and live their lives, Khaled has enjoyed an impressive time at the top with the success of his recent album Major Key. His next project, Grateful, which is executive produced by his newborn son, Asahd Khaled, will drop on May 19.

4. Chance the Rapper

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Okay, so Chance the Rapper unfortunately never got to bless the stage with his music last year, but he still makes the list because he’s, well, Chance the frickin’ Rapper! The past two years have been an unbelievable success story from winning three Grammys for his streaming-only album, Coloring Book, to giving back to his hometown of Chicago, and more.

READ: J. Cole Adds ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ To His Platinum Collection

5. J. Cole 

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J.Cole has silently been running the game for quite awhile now. In 2012, the Born Sinner artist graced New Yorkers with his presence. Only a year later, Cole went on to drop hit record after record with Born Sinner and Forest Hills Drive. Most recently, the rapper is preparing for his own headliner in support of 2016’s 4 Your Eyez Only.

6. Kanye West 

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Yeezus blessed the Hot97 stage in 2008, and a lot has changed since then. In the past nine years, Ye has released five hit albums, won 11 more Grammys, married Kim Kardashian, started another feud with Taylor Swift, had two kids, and a nervous breakdown.

7. Jhene Aiko 

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Personality wise, the sweet song bird is pretty much the same. But when she hit the stage in 2014, she was just coming into the success of her 2013 project Sail Out. Since then, she’s released Souled Out and Twenty88 in collaboration with now-boyfriend, Big Sean. She has also toured the world with artists like Drake, The Weeknd, and more.

READ: Donald Glover Will Star As Simba In ‘Lion King’ Remake

8. Mack Wilds 

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Mack Wilds might not be the biggest name on the list, but he’s actually been featured at a lot of the hottest festivals. In addition to the music, Mack has been holding it down on television on shows like VH1’s The Breaks and Shots Fired.

9. Drake, Lil Wayne, & Birdman

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In 2011, the YMCMB crew was unstoppable. That year, Drizzy, Wayne, and Birdman took the stage as a family to walk us through every hit single they ever recorded. But as they say: all things must come to an end. Six years later, Tunechi and Baby are no longer fam, and Tha Carter V is still somewhere wrapped up in a ton of legal technicalities.