If you listen to HOT 97, Nessa will most likely put on your favorite song, and make you laugh. The famed radio personality has definitely earned the coveted “jack of all trades” badge of honor. Aside from her hosting duties at one of New York City’s hottest hip-hop stations from 3-7 p.m., you can also catch her over at MTV presiding on the stage for after show interviews with the cast of Teen Mom, The Real World and Snooki & Jwoww.
In addition to the hip-hop talk and reality show chatter, she also spews out a slew of hilarious I-can’t-believe-you-just-said-that anecdotes and witty one liners on MTV’s Girl Code. Originally from southern California, Nessa made her way up to the Bay Area to attend The University of California at Berkley majoring in Mass Communications. Eventually, she interned at KYLD WiLD 94.9 in San Francisco, which led her to creating her own show, “The Baydestrian Report.” It wouldn’t take long for Nessa to also start hosting “West Coast Report” on POWER 106 KPWR in Los Angeles. After a few more radio gigs on the West Coast, and being bicoastal for some time—she flew East for good, and eventually landed to where she is now.
With HOT 97’s Summer Jam concert just a few days away—Sunday June 5, at MetLife Stadium—boasting a nice line up with the likes of Bryson Tiller, Tinashe, Terror Squad, and Future among many others, VIBE recently caught up with Nessa on the ins and outs of this year’s show. From who she’s excited to see to what you may want to bring and more. On a sunny Friday afternoon, Nessa is holding court inside one of HOT 97’s studios sporting a white t-shirt, with her luscious thick curtain of dark hair flowing down her back. She’s funny, charming and pumped up.
“Our job is to make sure that who ever is poppin’ right now is getting that platform to shine,” she tells VIBE. “I feel that Hot 97 even before my time has always done a great job at it. And we hope to continue to carry the legacy and to provide a great experience at Summer Jam.”
VIBE: If you can have a dream Summer Jam line up with any artist, alive or dead, who would you choose?
Nessa: I want Big, Pac, Michael Jackson—we have to have Whitney at this point, and Prince. It feels like I don’t want anyone that is alive, right? Of course, I want to see the greats there, like Jay and Eminem—would love to see Eminem perform. Chris Brown, Beyonce, Rihanna, Drake. That line-up would be amazing. I would love to see Nicki (Minaj) too.
What is the most rewarding thing about Summer Jam?
The most rewarding thing for me when I go to Summer Jam or Summer Jam in general is seeing our listeners being so happy and so excited. They are our listeners. They are here; they are here for the culture; they are celebrating. This is a legacy; an amazing experience that I truly believe everyone should experience in their lifetime. If you’re a fan of hip-hop, you definitely want to be at HOT 97 Summer Jam at least once.
How does it feel getting to experience Summer Jam as an employee?
For me to be part of HOT 97 Summer Jam as an employee is so different. It’s different than experiencing it as a fan because the fans enjoy what they see on the stage. To go back stage and deal with artist—are they on time or not?—there is always a panic on stage, but I love it. That’s the rush that we live for. I literally might be talking with my friend, and in one conversation doing something else, and literally about to go onstage and introduce the next person— introduce my DJ, show our listeners love. And then run back and do an interview. At that point you just have to be on, and that is what I love about being an employee now is that you’re on. There is no room for being tired because it’s all day. It’s a great feeling to see everyone feel happy about it.
Speaking of being on all day long, especially for the fans being out there in the heat, what five things would you advise fans to put in a HOT 97 Summer Jam survival kit?
Please bring a sweater, jacket—something along those lines—because it will get cold even if it starts out hot. So have an all cotton shirt that is airy for the daytime, and then bring something to cover you up at night.
Also, I’m not against women who wear heels. But you might want to revaluate your decision this day because you might get too turnt and might stumble and I don’t want that to happen to you—I care about you, so wear comfortable shoes unless you are birthed with heels. There are phenomenal women out there who can rock six inch heels without a trip, bless you, you could do it. I can’t. I just think you should be comfortable out there.
I would also say bring chapstick. And if you perspire more, bring deodorant. Do us a favor, and we’ll do you a favor. It’s a give-take relationship. And you should bring money because no one wants to pay for your stuff, and bring gum—and or Altoids whatever it is that you’re into— and I think you should come with a great attitude; bring that great attitude with you. Don’t forget that, because that is the most important part. Expect to stand in line for a little bit. Look, it’s the biggest hip-hop concert in the world, so you already know you’re going to stand in line for the bathroom. So as long as you bring a good attitude you’ll be fine, we’re going to get through it. Those are the essentials when you come to Summer Jam.
Who are you most excited to see?
I am most excited for the celebrity surprises because you never know. I’m curious to see who the surprises are.
You don’t know yet? Come on! (Laughs)
I swear to God, I ask Ebro on a daily basis. But because he’s old man Ebro, he doesn’t tell me anything. And I ask my DJ—DJ Camilo—because he is like the cool guy, and he usually has a good feeling because he is friends with all the artists. If you look at the line up, and you see Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Terror Squad—them being from here they are going to bring it. They have to show out. G.O.O.D Music who knows—
Kanye maybe? I know he’s doing Governor’s Ball so…
I hope Kanye shows up because that would be nice. He’s always invited. I want to see him. And honestly, more than Kanye, I want to see North. Do us a favor: bring your baby. No offense Kanye, we love you, but bring the baby. We want to see her.
What about Kim?
Bring Kim. We want to see Kim and North. Bring all the Kardashians, and maybe if I’m lucky, Kylie can slide me with a lip kit. I want everyone to come. That’s just my vibe let’s have a good time. It’s Summer Jam, we’re out here to have fun. I think Future being on it; him and Drake having What A Time To Be Alive was so great. I feel like Future should bring his friend out. It makes sense to me.
Looking at the line-up seeing Khaled and friends, that is clearly saying there is going to be a lot of them. I’m not his friend, because if I were his friend I’d have more money. But I’m not his friend, and I’m not part of whoever they are. So I’m excited to see Khaled at Summer Jam. But I didn’t answer who I’m most excited to see yet, so I’m going to have to go with Future.
Because I think his music has really been able to shine. We want to see him win. He has put in work for some while. The album he did with Drake just showed so much of his creativity and I would like to see him do that onstage.
Do you guys have a say at all on what the lineup is? Who makes those decisions?
We have a wish list. I make my own wish list up and I turn it into Ebro, and to PO (program director) and say, ‘Hey this is what I want.’ Ebro takes all of the feedback seriously, so does PO and they know we understand the pulse of everything that is going on. So of course we have a wish list, but a lot of the artists that we want to see are on tour. So when I look at this lineup, I’m very happy to see what we’ve been able to put together. It’s an experience. Every artist that performs is going to give you a different feeling, and you’re going to leave Summer Jam saying ‘that was a party, that was live, that was fun, I met new people. I’m gonna slide is somebody’s DM.’ It’s a great time to celebrate. It’s really a big party at MetLife.
Who else would you have liked to see who has a lot of potential and is not on this year’s line up?
I like Kehlani. She is very talented. I understand the pain in her music. I get it. And she is an authentic artist, and I love to see authentic artists win. So for me, I’d hope to see Kehlani the next time around. I really enjoy her music.
What are some of your favorite moments throughout the history of Summer Jam?
Mariah Carey showing up late, and barely making it on stage. I heard this story a thousand times, and guess what? I love to hear it over and over because I’m a psychopath. Like Jim Carey, cause I’m a lamb. Just that energy of like, ‘I’m going to walk up, I’m going to pull up in my luxury sports car or whatever,’ I think it was a Rolls Royce. It’s Mariah, you’re going to make way. She hops up on stage; hits those high notes and she is done. That’s what Mariah does.
Also, when Jay Z brought out Michael Jackson and everybody just lost it. Michael Jackson?! Like, we did that. We brought everything. Our culture is right there; everything you want. Your grandmother is going to be happy that Michael Jackson came by, your kids are going to be happy that Michael Jackson was on stage. You are never going to get those moments anywhere else.