Old and new will be battling it out for command of audiences at this year’s Rock The Bells Festival, which announced a formidable lineup for dates in San Bernadino, Calif. (Aug. 18th and 19th), Mountain View, Calif. (Aug. 25th and 26th) and Holmdel, New Jersey (Sept. 1st and 2nd). Tickets go on presale Friday and general sale Saturday, May 19th.
Composer and member of the Wu-Tang Clan RZA and festival regular Supernatural share hosting duties while the likes of fellow veterans Nas, Ice Cube, E-40, Too $hort, Naughty By Nature, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane and Prodigy will top the bill. Relative newcomers performing at the festival include Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller, 2 Chainz, Yelawolf and Tyga.
Among the most exciting acts are Missy Elliott, making her live-performance comeback following the release of her first album in seven years, Block Party, in June, along with her longtime musical sidekick Timbaland in a joint performance. Method Man and Redman will unite to perform Blackout in its entirety, not the first time the festival has seen well-established rappers perform their most iconic works (Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Nas’s Illmatic being among them).
All five original members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony will perform together for the first time in nearly 20 years to perform their standout album, E. 1999 Eternal, as well as a tribute to the late Eazy-E. Well, the news of a Bone Thugs reunion is as good of a time as any to revisit Bone Pugz-N-Harmony’s classic rendition of "1st of Tha Month." Enjoy.
Rock the Bells took over Governor’s Island this past Saturday for a dose of nostalgia, ultra. Big K.R.I.T. and Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, were two of the newest kids on the block amongst a lineup of artists that included Black Star and Cypress Hill, plus Nas and Lauryn Hill, who performed their classic albums Illmatic and The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.
For our group and about 40, 000 concert goers, waiting in line for the ferry commute was a necessary evil, but skewered set times made things a bit difficult, causing us to completely miss Big K.R.I.T. in the shuffle. The talent at this year’s festival was divvied up between the Main Stage (Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Nas), the Paid Dues Stage (Big K.R.I.T., Freddie Gibbs, Immortal Technique, Slaughterhouse), the 36 Chambers Stage (Mobb Deep, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon) and the Grindhouse stage, reserved for battle rappers.
Mos Def and Talib Kweli were the first big performances of the day, delivering hits like “Respiration” and “Definition” from their 1998 album Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. Erykah Badu took the main stage just before sundown, where she opened her set with “The Healer” from New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) and continued through a set that most fans in attendance were able to deliver line by line.
In the back-and-forth shuffle, primarily between the main stage and 36 Chambers, we got lucky enough to catch Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones,” and the saw the end of Childish Gambino’s set, for which Donald Glover decided to wear his shortest, most provocative pair of shorts.
Lauryn Hill was only a tad late for her set, but not actually late by her own standards of lateness, especially in light of the delays/schedule changes. To the dismay of some fans, Ms. Hill added her own experimental spin to the setlist from The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, incorporating new elements and switching up the sound (a lot), since it’s been over a decade and all. Fugees member Pras was her special guest of the night, standing by her side for “Ready or Not,” but her final guests were pretty interesting, too. At the end of her set, asking the crowd if we could “feel her love,” Hill brought five of her six children on stage, as if saying, “Sorry, this is where my heart has been for the past decade.”
Nas was the final performance of the night, and although hits like “Life’s A Bitch” and “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” can never go wrong, we caught the end of his set while boarding the ferry (did we mention there were about 40k people in attendance?) Before Nas’ closer, Ghostface and Raekwon performed songs from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Ghostface’s pre-show banter was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the night. Listening to him harass the sound and music technicians about providing the right amount of volume and blue lighting was thoroughly entertaining. Someone get this man a standup comedy show.
The lineup for this year’s Rock the Bells concert series is here, and it’s manna for hip hop fans! How often do you get to see Nas, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu (and many more!) on the same day? But there’s a big downside, and it’s this: Governor’s Island. New York’s most contested mound of goose poop is a hellhole in the summer heat and annoying to get to. Plus, four stages means a lot of the good acts will be going on at the same time. Click through for the reasons you should still go:
The New York date for Rock the Bells is September 3rd. Pre-sale tickets go on sale on June 3rd, and the rest on June 4th. Another option, for those of you willing to travel to Philly, is the Roots Picnic on June 4th. Headlining are The Roots, Nas, and Wiz Khalifa. It seems a bit smaller and more manageable (and I’d daresay cheaper). Here’s the Governor’s Island lineup:
• Nas • Lauryn Hill • Erykah Badu (see her! I beseech everyone to see her live at least once. When I saw her in Chicago, she had a foot-tall blond mohawk and did an extended acid-jazz version of “Appletree.”) • Mos Def and Talib Kweli • Raekwon and Ghostface Killah • Souls of Mischief • Mac Miller • Curren$y • Blu • Cypress Hill • Childish Gambino • Big K.R.I.T. • Immortal Technique • Freddie Gibbs • Murs
See Every Rapper You Liked in the 90’s on One BillRock The Bells—aka the annual post-old-school pre-autotune hip-hop traveling show—hits the beach at Governors Island on Saturday. The weather is supposed to be great, and the lineup is better: Wu-Tang Clan (sans ODB, obvs), Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill, Rakim, KRS-One, and Slick Rick are among the performers.
Grill Things Preferably meat, like the delectable duck sausage from Los Paisano’s Meat Market on Smith St. in Brooklyn. Cook it in a Big Green Egg. But if non-meat protein’s what you’re after, Field Roast Grain Meat Co. makes a mean veggie sausage. Try the Mexican Chipotle flavor. Also, a regular old grill will always suffice.
Get Your Dance On, Awkward Writer Types Head to the misleadingly named Manhattan Inn (it is neither an inn, nor in Manhattan) in Greenpoint tomorrow night for the latest installment of the Kings County Society for Fitness Musical Merriment. This monthly party is hosted by Gigantic Magazine editors James Yeh and Lincoln Michel, who spin dancefloor classics and rarities under the dorkily literary monikers DJ Hemingyeh and Cormac McBootay, respectively.
Tickle your eager Franzen bone Read excerpts of the author’s soon-to-be-released Freedom over on the NPR website (scroll down to get the excerpt).
The Emmys When you’ve already accepted that a long, harsh winter is nigh.