Summer jams are to June, July, and August what water is to fish. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince‘s “Summertime” wasn’t a hit
for no reason. Every year that song comes on the radio and every year it is as fresh as a glass of ice cold
lemonade. Big Willie reminds us of why summer time is amazing — people looking fly, people enjoying
the sunshine, and, most of all, people having a good time. Basically, the summer jam gives people an
excuse to get jiggy.
After the bounce
We’ve been lucky so far this year. Beyoncé‘s “Party” featuring Andre 3000 cranks hard, and Eric
Roberson‘s “Summertime Anthem” definitely moves the spirit to do a two-step. But what makes a summer jam? They
don’t necessarily have to be made in the sunny months, but these joints have a definite set of rules they
follow to be deemed worthy of such an illustrious label. Here are the five commandments of summer
1. Thou shalt be mid- to uptempo
That makes sense, because the point is to inspire positive
feelings. Now, it doesn’t have to be a crazy hype song, just a little something you can nod your
head to without even thinking about it. It also helps if the topics covered include the following areas: getting into a
car, good looking people, friends, going to parties, and general happiness about life.
Example: “No Diggity” by Blackstreet
2. Thou shalt make for good riding music
Sometimes you need a song to ride out to. “Maybach
Music” goes hard, but sometimes you don’t necessarily want to bump thunderous beats
pulling into the retirement home to see your grandma. Take it easy, Rozay, we know you ain’t
moving “work” in that Prius. Even thugs need a little sunshine and joy. Let the ice grill chill for a
little bit, and grab you an ice cream sammich.
Example: “Today Was A Good Day” by
O’Shea Jackson Ice Cube
3. Thou shalt get the party started
There’s nothing worse than a soiree where people just
sip their Riesling and stare at newcomers like lookie loos. Lame.com. Bumping a summer jam is
guaranteed to get the party started right, though. It’s scientifically proven that bougie black people will
imbibe their drinks quicker when a good song is on because it draws people to the dance floor. It allows
them to subtly
stalk seduce the person they’ve had their eye on for most of the night. We all
know that the point of even coming to the party was to fall up on a summer boo.
Example: “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan
4. Thou shalt break up fisticuffs
Remember that scene in Soul Food where Teri was about to
take it to the streets on her skanky cousin for sleeping with her husband? And remember how
they played that one song, and Teri dropped the knife? All summer jams have that kind of power. So
Ashley from accounting invited her rowdy friends from around the way to the picnic, and they
get to fightin’ with your sanctified friends from the 1st Mt. Olivet Baptist Holiness Church on the
Hill? Put on the right song and watch as the anger dissolves like sugar in sweet tea. Keeping the
scallywags at bay is crucial to ensuring you have events that are drama-free.
Examples: “God In Me” by Mary Mary or “Got to Give it Up” by Marvin Gaye
5. Thou shalt use dances from the ’90s as a litmus test
Finally, the time honored test of a
summer jam: whether one has the ability to execute a full body roll to the beat of the song (see:
Perez, Rosie at the beginning of Do The Right Thing). This can also be switched out for one
rotation of the Cabbage Patch or a well-timed Butterfly, but a body roll is optimal. That is a clear indicator of a thoroughly well-constructed jam.
Example: “Feels Good” by Tony! Toni! Tone!
So tell us, Bouncers and Bouncettes, which summer jams do you enjoy getting your groove on to? What
song inspires you to do the Tootsie Roll as soon as it hits the speakers? If there was a top 10 list of the
best summer jams, what would they be, and why?