The lone summer hip-hop festival at The Gorge, the KUBE 93 Summer Jam, once again brings to the middle-of-nowhere amphitheater a cast of rap and R&B stars, even if it is an abbreviated Summer Jam lineup.
The highlights of this year’s KUBE 93 Summer Jam are sure to be the nostalgia and novelty surrounding the Bobby Brown-included New Edition reunion, plus the notable appearance by Nas, who canceled his scheduled appearance at the 1999 Summer Jam.
The rest of the lineup reads like a list of hip-hop’s latest one-hit wonders – Mike Jones, Pretty Ricky, Jon B. and Ciara – save for Bone Thugs-N- Harmony, who scored two major hits before unraveling into an ant colony of nameless thug wannabees.
Only New Edition and Nas hold any real weight in the hip-hop world, and New Edition hasn’t had a hit since its last reunion tour in 1996.
From the looks of the lackluster lineup of seven scheduled acts, this could be the most lukewarm Summer Jam yet. It’s the shortest set of acts in the concert’s history, rivaled by the eight acts who comprised the 2002 Summer Jam. The stars in 2002 doubled this year’s magnitude by boasting names such as Nelly, Usher, Busta Rhymes and LL Cool J.
Both pale in comparison to the second KUBE Summer Jam in 1993, which featured 26 acts. It was the first opportunity in the Northwest to see together on one bill bi-coastal rap legends 2Pac, Run-DMC, Pharcyde, Onyx, Guru, Rodney O and Joe Cooley, and honorary hip-hop pioneers, Zapp and the late Roger.
Of course that was before the infamous shooting at the Gorge campsite the morning after the 2002 Summer Jam, which took place before the evening’s skatepunked Warped Tour at The Gorge.
Since then security has clamped down for Summer Jam. Initially there was talk from the Grant County Sheriff of banning hip-hop shows at The Gorge altogether. Instead, security has beefed up for every subsequent Jam. The event is cut off at 7 p.m., long before sundown, and Gorge campgrounds are closed. Conversely, there were no extra security measures taken for Warped Tour.