This year’s lineup suggests that Hot 97’s Summer Jam 2008 won’t be the clearinghouse for hip-hop–related drama that it sometimes has been, but the date remains fixed on the calendar of rappers all across the country, especially those around town. For every billed act, expect one or two (or, in the case of Diddy’s headlining set last year, six) semi-surprise guests—Jay-Z, as always, being the biggest question mark. Kanye, coming off a tour in which he diligently acted out an interstellar travelogue (his character? “The biggest star in the universe”), will merely be looking to have a good time; it’ will be the turn of his former road partner, Rihanna, to suggest that she’s kind of a big deal. Alicia Keys knows she already is one——hence her spot at the top of this year’s card. Summer Jam veterans D-Block and Lil’ Wayne just want to have fun and rap well, two things that Public Enemy aren’t always capable of these days. Hyphen guys The-Dream and T-Pain will be useful to have around for everybody else’s choruses. To everything, I guess, a season.
Sun., June 1, 6:30 p.m., 2008