After their victory-lap performance at Sasquatch! two weeks ago, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are already headed back to the Columbia River Gorge. This time it’s to host Summer Jam, KUBE 93’s annual showcase of mainstream rap/R&B stars, which is returning to the Gorge for the second consecutive year this Saturday.
After a temporary stint at the White River Amphitheatre stemming from a 2002 shooting that resulted in Grant County officials banning the concert from the Gorge (Summer Jam’s original setting since it began in 1996), Washington’s premiere outdoor venue began playing host to Summer Jam once again last year. This year’s lineup features some of radio rap’s biggest names to accompany the sunshine, scenic views, campsite parties and scantily clad attendees of all sorts.
Atlanta’s T.I. — who has enjoyed a slight career resurgence lately with his Hustle Gang crew mixtapes and December 2012’s well-received “Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head” album — brings over 10 years’ worth of booming Southern rap hits to close the evening with his headlining set. Virginia-based crooner Trey Songz should smooth things out with his R&B slow jams as a prelude to the main event, but not before College Park, Ga.’s 2 Chainz (formerly Tity Boi), one of the most ubiquitous voices in current mainstream rap thanks to his plentiful club-ready singles and hook features, gets it “turnt” up for what could be the day’s most riotous performance.
Also performing are Jay-Z’s Roc Nation signee J. Cole, a German-born, St. John’s (New York) graduate whose “Power Trip” single with singer Miguel is currently sitting in the Billboard Top 10 for rap, and Wale, who abandoned an early-career semiconscious swag-rap lane after finding it already occupied by the likes of Kid Cudi and Wiz Khalifa, but resurfaced in recent years as a part of Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group.A California trio named Drop City Yacht Club and former Garfield High School sports standout Tony Wroten, performing with rapper friend Rasaan Heist, have the day’s earliest performance slots.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who recently had their second No. 1-charting single in the ambitious anthem “Can’t Hold Us,” may seem out of place to some hard-core rap fans, but their inescapable “Thrift Shop” saw just as many (possibly even more) local plays on KUBE as on more independent stations like KEXP.
Between songs of his recent mainstage performance at Sasquatch!, the now clean-and-sober Macklemore admitted that one of his favorite memories of high school was getting drunk at the Gorge and seeing Outkast perform at Summer Jam in 1999 on the very stage he was standing on. Though T.I. and 2 Chainz are no Big Boi and Andre 3000, Atlanta rap will likely be the highlight of plenty of overserved Gorge attendees’ nights.