The experience of 102 JAMZ’s SuperJam

by Brian Clarey

You can feel the heat coming off the dance floor at the rear of Montego Bay, Araya Wossen’s joint on West Market Street that serves as Caribbean restaurant by day (try the goat) and multicultural boom boom room on evenings and weekends. It’s a bit cooler up front, where a DJ spins reggae beneath the flags of the island nations that are pinned to the ceiling, but it’s steamy in back with an after-crowd from the 102 JAMZ SuperJam, where JAMZ DJ Big Mo currently presides over a room that is starting to work up a sweat.

I’ve never seen so much crotch grinding in my life. And that’s saying something.

But it’s a night of firsts for me: the first time I’ve ever seen an Afro bigger than NY Yankee outfielder Oscar Gamble’s in 1976, the first time I’ve seen big girls move like that, the first time I ever seriously considered icing out my grill ‘— and it’s all happening because I went to my first hip hop show hours earlier at the Greensboro Coliseum.

But calling the SuperJam a hip hop show is like seeing a chromed-out Escalade with 24-inch spinning dubs and calling it a car. You’re just not telling the whole story. And breaking my hip-hop cherry at the SuperJam is a bit like losing my virginity to Li’l Kim, which when you think of it is probably not a bad way to start.

I’d never paid ten bucks to park at Stamey’s before and never took so many notes while walking up the ramp to the Coliseum, where I was immersed in a flowing sea of hip-hop faithful here to see a cadre of lyrical warriors from the dirty, dirty South; Young Jeezy, the Boyz in da Hood, the Ying Yang Twins and TI all hail from Atlanta. Compton native The Game, who claims to have been hated right out of 50 Cent’s G-Unit, was a no-show and rumors circulated about a baby-mama and a Bentley as the cause, though the more cynical and streetwise opined that his absence had something to do with his and Fiddy’s beef.The crowd was 16,000 strong, and it looked like The Game’s absence didn’t hurt attendance much.

By the time I hit the concession ring I harbored a relatively mild case of jungle fever’… mild, that is, considering that I walked among thousands ‘— thousands ‘— of fine brown sisters exhibiting bam! and pow! in dress that ranged from full-on hoochie to urban chic, with black-ink tattoos and sexy diastemas and strappy shoes with ribbons that laced up the calf and smoky shades and dangly earrings and hair ‘— oh man the hair’… stretched, braided, piled, twisted, dyed and teased on heads held high with regal results.

I brought my friend Tamika, herself a prime example of ghetto fabulosity, and as we walked the promenade outside the big room we attracted more than a few looks of appraisal, most of them wondering what the hell she was doing with me.

Inside the auditorium a beat bounced up to the rafters and on the four-sided Jumbotron up there were images of people in the crowd shaking to the beat, mostly women doing the kind of dance your mama warned you about. The camera cut once to a guy on the floor in a red jersey and fitted cap who was counting a handful of money which he then fanned out in his hands in front of the lens, proving it to be a sizeable wad of Benjies, maybe four grand.

I’d never seen anyone flash a roll like that before.

But sex and money are two of the most enduring themes in hip-hop music, sharing top billing with violence and smoking Blunts/ sipping on gin and juice in most of the evening’s selection of music.

After the lights dimmed and the 102 JAMZ crew pumped the hype by announcing the lineup and the eventual giveaway of $10,000 to someone seated in the crowd, Young Jeezy followed his crew out to the performance space, an empty black stage buttressed by two turntable rigs and assured the crowd: ‘”North Carolina, I’m gonna f**k you right,’” to screams and hoop-de-hoos before launching into a rhyme expressing this same sentiment.

Later in the set he implored the crowd: ‘“If you got more than twenty dollars in your pocket make some noise! You making money in North Carolina ni**a?’”

I’d never heard that ‘n’ word used so profusely as I did at that show, nor had I ever heard another unprintable word, one that rhymes with ‘other sucker,’ issued so many times.

Jeezy was latter joined on stage by the Boyz in da Hood for a number called ‘“(Talk All the F**k You Want) Don’t Put Your Hands on Me’” where the fans in front of the stage went absolutely wild due to the vicious rhymes, the bass beat so powerful that it massaged their hearts, and also due to what looked like handfuls of money that the Boyz flung into the air and which rained down on the audience like leaves.

That is absolutely the first time I’ve ever seen a music act do that. They must have learned that one from P Diddy.

With the entrance onto the stage of the Ying Yang twins, things began to get raw. The Georgia duo of Kaine and D-Roc who first gained prominence with a radio hit called, ‘“Whistle While You Twurk’” and eventually collaborated with both Li’l John and Britney Spears. Tonight they busted out a long set accented with call-and-response exchanges that included, ‘“If it’s crunk in this bitch say ‘hell yeah,”” ‘“Pull my hair’” (just the ladies on that one) and a chant of ‘“Wait ’til you see my d*ck’” from their newest hit called ‘“Wait (The Whisper Song).’”

After a woman from Winston-Salem, Tyshayla Byers, scrambled through the crowd to get to her seat, she was awarded the $10,000 prize and then TI, the ‘King of the South,’ who was recently released from Georgia’s Fulton County Jail (where he shot a video during his incarceration), came on full force.

By this time the crowd had flooded down from the upper deck, filling the aisles, and those in their seats stood on them and whipped their hands in the air while clouds of chronic drifted to the girders above.

At the afterparty, my hearing fuzzy from the lowest and loudest bassline I’d ever heard and still in somewhat of a fog after all I’d seen and did, I moved back and forth between the reggae and hip-hop sections of the restaurant, trying not to look like the whitest guy in the room.